By: Dr. Brian O'Rear
God spoke, and He created … everything.
It is striking that entrepreneurs, too, are fascinated with creating, making something from nothing. Where once there was no product, now it exists. Where once no employment thrived, new opportunities arise. Out of nothing, suddenly we have something. This is not the ex nihilo of Scripture, of course – something from literally nothing - but an entrepreneur's creation satisfies a deep urge to build, strive, and make things better. Entrepreneurs build up in an era of tearing down. They are eternal optimists, confident they can please customers, satisfy the market, improve the community, and provide for their families and others along the way.
Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and have visions that range from the small (think of a street vendor) to bigger than life (journey to Mars, anybody?). After rubbing shoulders with small business owners and studying entrepreneurs for two decades, I have observed they are not one and the same. That is, one can be a successful business owner and not be an entrepreneur. In my view, entrepreneurs possess at least three distinct characteristics that set them apart from the crowd:
Vision – entrepreneurs have a clear idea of where they want the company to go. Although initial details of the journey may be fuzzy, entrepreneurs are laser-focused on the distant horizon. Envisioning where they are headed helps them concentrate, and it also brings clarity to the organization, casting a vision for others. These leaders have spent countless hours thinking, dreaming, contemplating, and pondering, and as a result, they know where they are headed. Their contagious enthusiasm attracts others and spurs them to get on the train and head there, too.
Hope – entrepreneurs are optimists and dream ambitious plans. Their optimism is rooted in hope for a better tomorrow, and they see their enterprise as a part of that bright future. To outsiders, entrepreneurs seem driven as if they are on a mission. They are. A friend of mine owned a landscaping business and modeled this passion with spotless trucks, an ever-expanding professional workforce, and customer service rivaling Ritz hotels. His optimism infected everyone in his company, his clients, and even his competitors, who stepped up their game to compete. Who knew landscaping could be such a blessing to so many?
Grit – entrepreneurs can get knocked to the canvas, get back up, get pummeled again, and continue to rise each time. Small business is tricky, and an entrepreneur with a vision and hope must possess tenacity in equal measure. Inevitable storm clouds will darken the horizon, and tornadoes sometimes smash plans all to pieces. Yet when these storms come, the entrepreneur takes a deep breath, rolls up his sleeves, and huddles with his team to figure out how to put it back together again, better and stronger than before.
The rewards are enormous for a successful entrepreneur: a better community, opportunities for employees, satisfied customers, and a cared-for family. And the ultimate satisfaction of having created something from nothing is pretty good, too.