What Really Makes Entrepreneurs?

Written by Steve Masur:

I have been corresponding with a PHD student who is studying how to stimulate entrepreneurship, and what programs can be developed to do so.  I reacted negatively at first, because it is my feeling that entrepreneurship is a self-selected thing that you can’t really train people to want to do.  As a result, any program you create aimed at inputting regular people and spitting out entrepreneurs is doomed to failure.  However, she mentioned kids programs, and I am open to the idea that you might be able to train people in skills any entrepreneur needs, in the hope that they might self select entrepreneurship.

But what happens to the kids once you take them out of the program, and give them the lonely task of doing it on their own, with no one telling them what to build, or how to do it right?  That’s what entrepreneurs have to do.  …because ultimately, advisors are not invested, so they can’t really tell you how to do it right, just like a ski coach can’t ski the course for you.  It is how YOU do it that matters.

What I think does the most to give kids (or anyone) the feeling of being an entrepreneur, is to make your own money from a venture that YOU created.   You can help kids create their own businesses, and if those businesses make money the kids can put in their pocket, THAT is the feeling of being an entrepreneur.  That feeling of making money from nothing is what entrepreneurs find addictive.  Every time it works, it is like an epiphany.  You say to yourself, “wow, this really worked!  People liked what I made, and bought it with their own hard earned money.”

The bigger plans and more lofty ideas of what to make develop later, but they develop from that basis.  Much later, when the entrepreneur has made enough that the money doesn’t matter, they remain addicted to the process of building new things that didn’t exist before.

So it’s money that first drives people to become entrepreneurs, and it is making new things that people like, and the feeling of accomplishment from succeeding that locks them in.