The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur
Improve your odds of success by developing the two qualities all successful entrepreneurs possess.
Success is something that has many paths. I am often thinking of the various paths notable entrepreneurs have taken and where I best fit in that structure. I usually operate on a basis of trying to improve the chances of success and how the actions I take today should, in theory, be contributing to my goals in 30 years time. However, when I look into the idea of success; how and why it occurs in many others — I inadvertently stumbled upon a common denominator across all successful entrepreneurs. It’s the two qualities all entrepreneurs possess, they are; the ability to innovate and the ability to look to the future.
Really think about that because that is really what every successful entrepreneur boils down to. “X billionaire innovated in this industry with their business and they did this by utilising the ability to look forward to the future and its possibilities”. It’s the exact same story every time. Pick any entrepreneur and you’ll see that you can apply this school of thought. So, how can we use this to help us achieve success? Well, plain and simple — we need to develop our character, advance and focus on those two key characteristics that form the mental anatomy of a successful entrepreneur. Let’s discuss how we can do that.
The heart of entrepreneurship lays here. Without innovation, life would not be. Everything you do in your life boils down to innovation; we take that for guaranteed. The device you’re using to read this article, the transport you use to get around, even the bed you sleep in! Everything is built from innovation. I believe, as entrepreneurs, this should be our primary focus — if we learn how to innovate better than anyone else in our field that success is near guaranteed.
What is innovation?
Innovation is defined as ‘a new idea or method’ — thus, it is the only way to enact change. Entrepreneurship is all about change… making things different and better, incrementally improving constantly. Entrepreneurs are different — they try the things no one else has tried before. That is literally the definition of innovation! The two concepts are intrinsically linked — that’s inescapable. So why, whenever I enter discussions about entrepreneurship, the word innovation never comes up? It’s all about what ads to use to generate the best sales blah blah blah… We need to start introducing innovation into our entrepreneurial vocabulary.
How do we use innovation?
Innovation has many nuanced components — breaking it down would be an impossible task. However, there are again a few common lessons and traits to innovation. First, the innovator tends to be an expert in their field or is becoming one. Second, innovators generally occupy their mind with the problems in their field and how they could make things better — they are constantly looking for solutions. Third, they speak to as many people as possible (lay or otherwise) about their field/ideas and get feedback.
How can we get better at innovation?
Well, how do we get better at anything? We practice. You should always be working to develop the above points mentioned. Something I do wish to bring attention to is this; every single idea mentioned above all addressed your ‘field’. Most entrepreneurs I see today do not have one. You need to get one — you need to establish what area of work you are interested in and are happy to devote 30 years to.
You need to become an expert in your chosen field, you need to find the problems in that field and occupy your mind with them and lastly, you need to speak to everyone you can about your field. Become an expert through education, you can do this yourself via reading and online courses — university is not a necessity. As you are becoming an expert you will naturally learn about the problems in your field and where innovate is due. You must be constantly thinking about these problems — if you are an entrepreneur at heart then this will come naturally. A huge factor in your favour for innovation is to gain a plethora of external knowledge from anyone and everyone, the more insight you can get the better — you will become more well-rounded within your field. Do not neglect the laypeople, they often provide the best input as they are uninhabited by education and knowledge of the subject.
Looking to the future
This is, I believe, the second pillar to entrepreneurship. All great companies were not built for the present world they were made in but for the future of the world they were made in. Successful entrepreneurs utilise their ability to look to the future out of necessity – which is why you need to focus on improving this ability.
What is looking to the future?
By this, I mean the ability to assess where we are now and where we are going. If we correctly assess where the world is going then we can get ahead and become the driver of that new reality. For example, Elon Musk used his ability to look to the future and he assessed that electric vehicles are where the world was heading. So what did he do? He got ahead, started a company and became the driver of that reality, excuse the pun. This is what all successful entrepreneurs did — they starting building something that wasn’t fit for the world at that time, but it was fit for the world in the future. All successful companies were unthinkable until someone proved those beliefs wrong.
How do we use looking to the future?
This is extremely difficult to explain with any level of accuracy. I believe our ability to look to the future comes from general knowledge about the world, it’s history and it’s present. It’s history because to assess where we might go in 30 years we need to know how we got here from 30 years ago. It’s present because we need to know the kind of people are around today and what they want. The future is almost entirely dependant on societies views of that time. So ask yourself, what do the people want? Build it for them.
How can we get better at looking to the future?
I’m going to again use Elon Musk and his philosophy of thinking via first principles as it is the only way I feel any light can be shed on how to get better at looking to the future. Reasoning by first principles is when you reason up from the fundamental, basic assumption. Meaning, you have the bedrock of an idea or believe and you reason up from there. I’ll run through how Musk used this… Musk knew that at some point in the future, we would need to establish the use of renewable energy — it’s inevitable as fossil fuels will run out at some point. That’s the base assumption. It’s the one fundamental truth we know. Then he reasoned up from there. If we need to shift to renewable energy then how do we do that? Well, we need to switch our current usage of fossil fuels to renewable sources; thus, electric vehicles. It’s really quite simple when you run it like that — Elon Musk thought it was and that’s why he built it.
So, the only way I can suggest at getting better at looking to the future would be, begin with, the first most fundamental principle that is the bedrock of your thinking. Then work up from that. Confront what comes up but if it aligns with your bedrock truth — your odds are good.
The anatomy of the successful entrepreneurs comprises of the ability to innovate and look to the future. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with my views on each subject and how to improve those abilities; the prefaced statement is true — that’s the bedrock principle. What you need to do is reason up from there. The point I’d like everyone to take home is that every successful entrepreneur possesses those two qualities by the truckload. So, if you want to become a successful entrepreneur what do you need to do? Develop those qualities. By improving your ability to innovate and look to the future you will improve your odds of success. Thank you.