“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” — Benjamin Franklin
Successful entrepreneurs improve our lives by creating innovative products and services that enhance our standard of living. In addition to their products and services, entrepreneurs create jobs and conditions for our economy to grow and prosper.
These entrepreneurs are driven by an inner fire to create, innovate, and ultimately succeed at whatever obstacle they come in contact with. Most successful entrepreneurs are focused, decisive, and motivated by more than wealth. Their passion to improve and ability to improvise, are traits that are shared by very few people.
So how did successful entrepreneurs become this way? Were they born like this? Or were they made? What I have learned through my years as an entrepreneur and spending time with other amazing entrepreneurs is that successful entrepreneurs are made, not born.
The Successful Entrepreneur’s Why
All human beings are born with an innate sense of motivation or drive. When we are young, we are driven by simple motives like the need to eat and need to be comforted. As we age, our motives change. We refer to these motives as entrepreneurs as a “why”. A “why” is what causes an entrepreneur to create, persevere, and ultimately grow their businesses into the innovative products and services we know today.
Each entrepreneurs “why” is unique to them. It’s why they get out of bed at 4AM, why they work 18 hour days, and why they keep going when everyone else says they’re crazy.
So where does a “why” come from?
Each entrepreneur’s “why” is molded from their unique experiences and values. According to the book “Discover Your True North” by Bill George, the best motives come from intrinsic motivation, not external factors.
Steve Jobs wanted to do amazing work. Mark Zuckerberg never started Facebook to create a multi-billion dollar company; he was trying to connect people. Elon Musk drove Tesla because big car companies were terminating their electric vehicle program.
Your “why” may not be as grand as these entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Some of the best entrepreneurs I know are driven by motives like spending more time with their family, financial independence, the freedom to make their own decisions, to create a product or service that makes the lives of other people easier, or to be able to give back to their local community.
In my personal opinion, a “why” is created and molded throughout your entire life. Some entrepreneurs start with a specific motive in mind and continuously add or change their motives as they grow and their businesses evolve.
My business partner and I started our real estate investing company, Nexus Homebuyers, because we wanted to provide an alternative for homeowners rather than listing their home with a real estate agent. We also wanted the ability to work from anywhere in the world, and our business has allowed us to do both.
How Are Successful Entrepreneurs Made?
The old argument is that entrepreneurs are born, not made. I disagree. To be clear, the better way to phrase this view is self-made. Entrepreneurship cannot be taught at a university, it must be learned on your own, through experience, and through mentors who guide you along the journey.
A Fundamental Mental Shift
To say you are born anything in life, including an entrepreneur, doesn’t make sense to me. This theory directly contradicts the gift of free will, and puts limits on what we can achieve. To say “you either have it or you don’t”, is not true in my opinion.
Some people may have been raised to think, act, and interpret in one way, but through working on their thoughts, actions, and viewpoints, they can change their interactions with the world. Entrepreneurs are no different.
Going through school programs teaches students to be great employees. Schools and universities are designed to create repetition, limited collective growth, and limit the creative process. To be an entrepreneur, creating a shift from repetition, limited collective growth, and a limited creative process, to expanding your thought process, working collectively with others, and forging your own path.
I started my fundamental shift by reading books by entrepreneurs who were more successful than I was and were where I wanted to be. I started primarily with books on mindset and the way that money works. Two great reads are “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki.
Once entrepreneurs create a fundamental shift towards the path of entrepreneurship, there is still a long road ahead. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.
There are quite a few reasons why new businesses fail, but I wholeheartedly believe that most businesses fail due to the grind. With the ease of creating a business today, people who are fed up with working for someone else think that they can jump right in and make a million dollar business with the same amount of effort that they put forth at their current job. They believe that they’ll have freedom and be able to call their own shots.
After a few months they realize that instead of making only a few decisions each day, they are now responsible for every aspect of a business; marketing, HR, sales, administrative, and accounting. They soon realize that they may have expertise in one area, but not the others. Most new business owners quickly understand that they are in over their head and throw in the towel.
The fact is that they skipped over the fundamental shift that has to occur before you can go down the path of becoming an entrepreneur. They are acting as an employee and have “blinders” on to the entire company. They can’t think outside the box because they are still programmed to focus on one area and that learning outside your area is frowned upon. The successful entrepreneur knows that creative thinking, systematizing, and learning as much as they can about each department is vital to succeeding as a business owner.
Successful entrepreneurs have also established their “why” and they have a true motivating force behind them other than money. In my experience, people who jump into entrepreneurship for monetary reasons rarely last.
As human beings, we are born with the freedom to make choices and the ability to learn and reach the level of mastery on anything we commit wholeheartedly to. Entrepreneurship is no different.
Mastering a craft, including entrepreneurship, is created through thousands of hours of dedication, years of experience (and failures), and a few fundamental shifts in mindset. The old point of view was that 10,000 hours of working on a skill would make you a master of it. Considering we are all unique and learn at different rates, the time it takes to reach a level of mastery depends completely on how focused you are on working on your craft. Mastery is a journey, not a destination.
Are Successful Entrepreneurs Made Or Born?
As an entrepreneur, I wholeheartedly believe that entrepreneurs are made, not born. Their passion and drive is crafted through a fundamental shift that drives them to success. Once this fundamental shift happens, an entrepreneur can work to achieve a level of mastery on their craft and grind until they reach their goals.
Most entrepreneurs I have worked with are always challenging themselves to achieve their next goal, whether that is to start a new company or achieve mastery on a new skill. Their endless thirst for achieving their next “why” is why truly successful entrepreneurs are so rare, but fundamental in forming a great entrepreneur.