I have always considered what I do, in terms of starting and running a business, as the role of a businessman and not one of an entrepreneur. My view has always been that many people have started and run businesses but few do that many times over and simultaneously – something I would have considered an entrepreneur to do. Unfortunately the term entrepreneur has become much more mainstream so even if you have only focused on one idea and one business you are considered an entrepreneur. However which is best? Which delivers the best business success and what should people be aspiring to?
At the moment everyone is told to become an entrepreneur, however by my definition does that really deliver the best results? Some of the biggest names in business, and hence success, have only ever focused on one business or brand. Bill Gates for example was a businessman by building Microsoft. Steve Jobs with Apple, Sergey and Larry of Google, and while Richard Branson of Virgin has been involved in a number of different industries his brand remains consistent throughout.
On the flip side of the coin I have met with quite a few people who I consider real entrepreneurs. They are involved, and have often founded, many different businesses involved in many different industries. Usually they are all happening at the same time and spread themselves thinly across them relying on the management team within in each company to carry the business. And as a result it is more difficult to name household names who have managed to build these businesses to a grand scale. The only successful entrepreneur I can name off the top of my head would be Elon Musk. The PayPal founder who is now involved in establishing and running Tesla cars and SpaceX.
Apart from the monetary reward of a successful business, I am not sure the entrepreneurship model really works when the direction and focus of the individual is spread so thinly between fledgling businesses. Surely it is better to focus on one company and build it to greater success rather than focus on many different businesses? Some of the people I have met love the creation of a new business but quickly loose interest in running or seeing through their vision. So the thought of being able to jump between businesses must be rather appealing. But from what I have seen these people spend a lot of time trying to catch up, constantly traveling and never really achieving the potential of the original idea.
I on the other hand appreciate the more time I focus on my business the better it is and for the moment other distractions will have to wait. While it may not have a cool title the outcome should be much more rewarding for me and the business.
Steve Jobs has the be one of the ultimate entrepreneurs from the seeds of the Blue box came Woz and thus Apple, Next together with PIxar and back to Apple as his main focus. The smaller ‘projects’, if you will, that never became mainstream still had the Steve touch but never came to fruition.
I for one do subscribe to spreading your self thin where possible, but that is because I have never wanted to create a mega Corp. Entrepreneurship for me was more of a life hobby and just happens to fund my life too. It is horses for courses and if you have a clear goal in mind then do with the badge what you will.
Becoming an entrepreneur is ten times easier today but 100 times harder to succeed at being as was 30 years ago. I prefer to call myself a serial entrepreneur nowadays.