entrepeneur tickHaving been an employee and now having run a company of some sort or another since 2001 in this time I have amassed a large amount of experience. I have formerly run a small charity, a gardening business, a web design company and most recently a software house. I have worked with both high skilled and low skilled staff and worked with both volunteers, paid staff and contractors.

In my time I feel I have had the best paid education possible for my own future success. An entrepreneur’s salary when they start out is actually a negative number. Between 2006-2009 I effectively earned zero, however this is normal in the context of establishing a business. My actual spend was £125,000 hence I lost money in the course of doing my obligatory 100 hours a week as an entrepreneur. Similar to how the professions work, unless lucky the entrepreneur earns their stripes before earning significant returns.

For an entrepreneur the first 5 years are the hardest after that the mind-set is generally becoming solid and perhaps more importantly so the team that has been built up round the entrepreneur can deal with them, and sometimes actually enjoy their time working on new and exciting things.

Entrepreneur’s are very hard for everyday people to deal with they think outside the boundaries of what others consider practical and often challenge the general staff members feelings of personal contribution, and self-worth in a way that can be uncomfortable for both parties concerned.

Entrepreneur’s tend to be the “trouble shooters,” the “fixers,” of general economic problems while they can struggle to see the issues present for the everyday practitioner. Perhaps the most famous entrepreneur of our time Steve Jobs, was deemed to “bend reality,” for his colleagues, this meant that the individuals in his team achieved things no other person could dream of achieving and yet in the process Steve Jobs was distant from people and had few long term friends, in comparison to the amount of effort and enthusiasm that he had for people.

There is a time shift present in how the entrepreneur sees the world and how the practitioner does. The Entrepreneur in their plans and designs can see the future actually happening. Whether planning a yoga class or a software project, the entrenepenur sees the people on the Matts or on the site as and when they make changes to their plans.

The practitioner of course sees the people on the Matts as they sit on them, and on the website generally on retrospect purely from stats. Often this boundary is to great for many and given it shouldn’t be possible for someone to see the future, certain people can feel aggrieved at entrepreneurs, given they “aren’t in touch with reality,” or the fact that the practitioner can’t see how the conclusion had been come to.

As a trait entrepreneurism is both a pleasure and a curse. As a condition it comes with natural flaws, obsessiveness, a desire for perfection, a controlling nature, a holistic difficult to explain view point, a tendency towards traits of aspergers or autism and an eye for detail that shouldn’t be there from a practioners point of view. An entrepreneur tends to break workplace rules simply because they did it for a “higher purpose,” they over work often being the most driven people within a team, first in and last out.

A good entrepreneur is one who in the words of Socrates “knows thyself,” a statement often used in a variety of contexts but here I refer very categorically to the weaknesses that budding entrepeneurs should look out for.

Entrepreneur’s can tend to like being round people who have common viewpoints and who idolise them, often although having high degrees of personal confidence entrepreneurs can lack true interpersonal confidence outside of the working environment and can make the mistake of hiring those that “understand them.” Recruitment and selection are the most important areas of focus for any entrepreneur picking the wrong team will set the entrepreneur back by years, and create torment, frustration and bad blood between all parties. Picking the right team that compliments each others weaknesses will create a show stopper with the right entrepreneur, a “Blue ocean,” in the words of Renee and Mauborgne, (2005) uncontested market space.

Entrepreneurs although generally very hard workers don’t tend to work well in teams if left in situ for a long basis, they need “me,” time. One explanation is that the time lapse between viewpoints works when the entrepreneur is “parachuted,” in and then leaves their staff alone, from my point of view every entrepreneur does well to learn this quickly.

Entrepreneur’s see failures as expected, and can often compensate for risks without informing others well enough to nullify the worry of others, while strong communicators entrepreneurs tend to lack the ability to turn high level  concepts into easy to understand ideas when they first start up. (this is something does come with practice!)

Entrepreneur’s work holistically thinking about consequences at social, technical, cost, strategic, market, and other levels of association all at once. This can be difficult to explain meaning often autocracy in unbounded decisions is needed to get the job done, its key the entrepreneur “fights the right fights,” don’t crush your staff, react strategically and the result will be a good working environment. Nassim Nicolas Talebs, book Anti-Fragile (2012) perhaps is a strong guide for not being interventionalist and the entrepreneur often needs to learn to step back,

Entrepreneur’s can fail to see the high degree of personal expectation they set for those round them, given they are used to setting traditionally unattainable targets for themselves. Often unfortunately there is a lifespan that most staff will be able to keep up with the entrepreneur, or indeed want to. Especially if they are in day to day regular contact with “new ideas”. Entrepreneur’s can try to lay off but it wont work unless they do indeed leave people to it. Often a natural expectation is deeply implanted in someone’s mind as to what the entrepreneur expects of them given what the entrepreneur expects of themselves and I feel I speak for all entrepreneurs when I categorically say that is not the case. This said Simply through interaction, and visible work ethic entrepreneurs can drain others as well as enthuse them  and over time people will move on, if their clocks aren’t in sink. Where this happens the entrepreneur needs to be prepared and deal with this, generally this is a late lesson and sometimes hence as a hurdle is particularly hard to deal with.

Entrepreneur’s often lead exciting and rapid lives and due to enthusiasm and skill will generally achieve a massive amount. For this there can be costs from family costs to time with friends, and a balance of enthusiasm for home and work is needed to keep for a life time of fulfilment and happiness.

The thing about an entrepreneur reading this article is that whether they like it or not they are programmed and on a trajectory for success through repeated failure, and invention followed by reinvention. At a micro level the speed at which these changes work is contributed by the experience and abilities of the entrepreneur, so all someone on the track can do is to try and get as good at it as possible as quickly as they can.

Now post my years of experience I see another 10 ahead of me as I hone my skills and become brilliant, my ability to inspire, create and work as part of a team are not where I want them to be but at a self critical level I am privileged to have learned more in the last year than I intended to through not executing on things at that point I didn’t know about myself, and I am privileged to be growing a team who together with I will be able to make a real impact on the world.

By Andrew Cuthbert