Many years ago (2002 to be precise), I was moderator of an email discussion group called I-Entrepreneur (published by Adventive, now sadly no longer with us).

Given entrepreneurship is a subject close to my heart, I thought I’d trawl the archives for some ‘nuggets’ to re-post here, which I will do over the coming weeks.

I kicked off the discussion (well, it was more of a debate) on I-Entrepreneur by articulating what I saw were the 5 Fundamental Tenets of Entrepreneurship.

Contrary opinions are welcome!

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There are five fundamental tenets of entrepreneurship:

1) Entrepreneurs are MADE, not born.

Everyone has it within them to be an entrepreneur. Some people are naturally entrepreneurial, others need to work at it. Entrepreneurial tendencies are influenced by a number of factors, including:

    – education
    – training
    – experience
    – role models
    – market knowledge
    – government policy
    – financial situation

You don’t have to be an inventor or naturally innovative to be an entrepreneur. You can learn how to innovate/invent.

2) Entrepreneurship is a PROCESS, not a single inspired act.

Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurship is not grounded in random acts of inspiration. Entrepreneurship is process-based. Certainly, there is often a “light bulb” moment of blinding insight that kick-starts an individual’s journey into entrepreneurship, but the path always follows the same, 6-step process:

    – Identify an opportunity
    – Evaluate the opportunity
    – Innovate to fulfill the opportunity
    – Marshall suitable resources – time, money, people, plant, equipment.
    – Assume necessary risks – financial, psychological, social.
    – Reap rewards – independence, personal satisfaction and wealth.

3) Entrepreneurs are not risk takers, they are risk MANAGERS.

Many individuals eschew pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities, because they consider themselves to be risk-averse, whereas entrepreneurs are promoted as fearless risk takers.

True entrepreneurs are not risk takers, they are risk managers.

Entrepreneurs work diligently to identify and then reduce the risks associated with their endeavour. They take educated risks.

However, it is true that entrepreneurs must ultimately accept the risk of failure.

4) Opportunities are ABUNDANT.

Central to the entrepreneurship process is the identification of opportunities that can be profitably exploited.

Finding opportunities is both an art and a science – an art, because success often lies in intuitive guesses; a science, because opportunities can be spotted using rational, systematic methodologies.

Each of us encounters potential opportunities regularly – even daily – yet we often fail to recognise them because we are not “tuned” into spotting them. In fact, given that we live and work in environments teeming with “information overload”, we often actively (sub-consciously) filter out important information that could provide the genesis of an opportunity.

Finding potentially profitable opportunities requires that you be more aware of the world around you. Look for “pain” – problems, inconveniences, sudden crises etc. – that can be remedied through innovative problem-solving.

Find a “pain” that you can solve and chances are you will find many customers happy to pay you to solve it.

5) Ideas are WORTHLESS.

The last tenet is by far the most controversial: Ideas are worthless.

Ask any inventor or budding entrepreneur what they think their ideas are worth and you’ll receive estimations ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. Unfortunately, they are invariably wrong. This misconception is probably the single largest hurdle in the entrepreneurial process.

Ideas are worthless. Knowing what to do with those ideas – how to implement ideas, how to monetise them, how to drive them from an ephemeral, nebulous concept to a concrete solution/product/service is where value is created.

Thomas Edison, perhaps the most renown inventor, said it best: “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

Edison was the consummate inventor. He was, somewhat ironically, a decidedly average entrepreneur!