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How to think like an entrepreneur

How to really think like an entrepreneur? Nobody tell you to do the free advice that’s worth every penny or the conventional common sense that isn’t so common. But how to really think and behave like an entrepreneur?

Some things I don’t believe are entrepreneurial qualities even though a lot of people do. I don’t think it’s just all about hustle and graft, working 16 hours a day for 10 years straight, and having no life. Do you want to be successful as much as you want to breathe, go big or go home, or go all in, or 10X. I don’t think entrepreneurship is just about those things.

There are times and places for hustle, hard work, deep work, focus and thinking bigger. But I’ve got some different things for you to think about. I’ve got 9.  I also don’t think that being an entrepreneur is about spinning 50 different plates and being overwhelmed as f**k. I also don’t think that being an entrepreneur is doing all the work yourself. I also don’t think being an entrepreneur is about, well, you’ve to show people how to lead by showing them with your actions, get in earlier than everyone else. Go home later than everyone else. No! I think most of those things are individual sporadic, and time, and place quality of entrepreneurs. But they’re not actually the overriding traits of the greatest entrepreneurs. So, here are my 9.

I think the first thing, is, you have to have these almost opposite of rosé tinted glasses, where even though you’re positive and optimistic, and you’re a big thinker, you see the world’s problems. I interviewed the first CEO and Co-Founder of Netflix. And he said, ‘look, to be a great serial entrepreneur, to have great ideas, and to solve the world’s problems, you’ve to look at the world with the slightly sceptical view to seek out and spot all the things that are wrong.’

And a lot of people are saying, ah, just be positive or think big. But actually, that’s not true. You’ve got to be able to spot the problems, which does take a certain critical thought process. But then you’ve got to immediately pivot and go, not get sucked into the problem. Bitch about the problem. Moan about the problem. But to actually think what’s the solution. To see solutions in mistakes. To see solutions in failure and failings, and to then go and create them.

The second trait, is, to see an opportunity in everything. A mature market, how can I disrupt? Areas of great need like, for example, climate change and sustainability to see solutions. With animal welfare, to see solutions. Some things in life we don’t think are fair. We don’t think are right. But what entrepreneurs don’t do, is, get on the soapbox, and moan, and complain about it, and get political, and bitch, and start petitions, but do nothing about it. What they do, is, what are the solutions? How can I create a meaningful product and service, and then of course, make it a revenue stream or commercialise it.

The third point is, entrepreneurs create value. They are producers for the consumers. And there are stats, something like 90 percent of all the revenue created is from entrepreneurs, from the private sector, not the public sector. The private sector funds most of the public sector.  I don’t know the official figures. But I would definitely say, that entrepreneurs seem to create the most jobs, seem to pay the most taxes. And they understand about creating value.

When people are like, ah, well, I can’t sell enough. I don’t seem to have high enough prices. I’m not making enough margin. The answer is always, how can you create more value. Create more value, you get more fair exchange. You get more clients. You get more margin. There’s more demand, et cetera.

The 4th thing is the way that entrepreneurs are very different to employees, is that, employees kind of create value later. They’re employed, then they work. Whereas, entrepreneurs create value first. And that’s why successful entrepreneurs are handsomely rewarded from the profit perspective. A lot of people are saying, well, what are you going to pay me, and what are my benefits package, before they’re actually done any job. You’ve to look at the CV, and rely on their history as a measure for the future.

But you’ve not actually seen them on the job. So, you don’t know. That’s why you get paid in arrears 31 days. That’s why you have 6-month probation or 3-month probation, in case you’re not good. And that’s why the law is relatively in favour of the employer for one to 2 years, because there are no guarantees.

Whereas, when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to create the value first. People don’t go, ah, here’s some money in lieu of, and forward, in advance of you creating a product for me. We’ve got to go, prepare our own overhead, take our own risks, create the value first, and then hope that the people are going to come and pay us. And we take the risk. That’s why the rewards are high.

We create value first. By the way, that’s not just for start-up entrepreneurs. That’s a continual process for entrepreneurs. If you would glass ceilings, if your margin is reducing, if business is not going so well, if there’s Brexit or a recession, you’ve to ask, how can I create more value? How can I create value first, and then get paid later? But hopefully, not too much later.

Point 5, is, we solve, we serve and we scale. We solve the problems. We serve people, and then we scale that to serve vast numbers of people. We go from personal to local, to national, to intercontinental, to global, to intergalactic. That sounds crazy, but look at Virgin Galactic, or Elon Musk and space travel. Some of them are going to be trillion pound or dollar companies. Billionaires do that.

6 – Fair exchange. An entrepreneur is forced for fair exchange. I’m not knocking employment or employees. I’m just giving you the difference, by the way. Because some people probably should be employees. There are certain traits of being an entrepreneur, which I’d discussed. I’ve done 430 episodes on my podcast, The Disruptive Entrepreneur.

But if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to create fair exchange.  In a corporate role, in middle management, you can kind of hide, and not really offer too much value, but get paid, because it’s nice and safe, and just do enough, and posturise, and move some papers around. Be seen to be doing the right thing rather than doing the right thing. You cannot hide as an entrepreneur. You can’t do that. You can’t pretend. You can’t move paper. You can’t procrastinate. You can’t actively procrastinate, pretending to do work. You have to create fair exchange, which is, meaningful products and services that create fair value. And you have to charge fairly for it, and make a sustainable profit margin. Otherwise, you can’t sustain your business. You can’t reinvest into innovation and growth, and therefore, you don’t make any money. We have to understand truly what fair exchange means. And a lot of people don’t understand that.

7 – next then, is, we have to take risks. But I believe, you know, my saying, if you don’t risk anything, you risk everything. Well, I don’t believe in going all in or 10X immediately. I believe in calculated risks, progressive incremental risks.

Richard Branson famously says, I protect the downside, and then I take some risks. So, if I’m going to open an airline, I’ll get mentorship from Freddie Laker, who’s got loads of experience in it. And I’ll do an option deal on a plane or a group of planes. I don’t know what’s the plural for a group of planes is. A school of planes, a gaggle of planes. But then, if it doesn’t work, and I can give the plane back, and get some of my money back.

We take risks, but we take calculated risks, and not stupid risks. Of course, media and social media is full of the all in, 10X, massive risks, the glory.. Incremental risks I think are more wise for sustainable long-term growth, and not just sexy social media, one-minute Instagram videos.

The next thing, is, we are producers. We are value creators. We produce for the consumers. Most of the world of consumers, some of the world of producers. But producers earn big. The producers win big. The producers create communities. They create empires, and so, look to a flock of planes. Yes, need to Google on that. So, are you producing or consuming?

And then finally, entrepreneurs disrupt. We innovate. We improve, and we repeat. Disrupt, innovate, improve, repeat. Test, tweak, repeat. Test, tweak, repeat. Disrupt, innovate, improve, repeat.

So, let me summarise this, because I’m told that people like the summaries so that’s why I do them. Thanks for tuning in. This will go on my podcast, The Disruptive Entrepreneur. So, to summarise really quickly the content on How To Think Like An Entrepreneur, is,
1. We see the world’s problem with a critical view to spot out the problems. But then we look to solve them.
2. We look for opportunities, and we seek out problems, but we don’t dwell in the problems, we seek the solution, the opportunity. We seek opportunity in everything.
3. We create value. We create value first, not later.
4. We don’t expect the world to pay us first. We go and prove what we can do, and then we get paid for it.
5. We solve. We serve. We scale.
6. We create fair exchange, maximum value, maximum margin.
7. We take calculated progressive risks.
8. We are producers more than consumers.
9. We disrupt, innovate, improve and repeat.


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