What’s It Take To Be The Quintessential Entrepreneur?

I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for almost two decades and see a constant stream of people knocking on my door. Many of them are looking for advice on how to hyper grow their business, how to source various resources – be that partners, staff or funding and on what choices to make given a myriad of options presenting themselves in quick succession – be that which channel to follow to market, what emerging technologies are disrupting their business model or how to respond to competitors.


I’ve noticed through my personal involvement ┬áthat while there are many fluid elements to being an entrepreneur, three things remain constant:

1. Entrepreneurs are ultimately hell bent on changing the world in some way. In many cases they are tackling a problem they’ve been confronted with and have formed a passion for creating a solution where one didn’t exist before;

2. Entrepreneurs have to deal with resource constraints. In the beginning they have an idea, no staff, usually no capital and no path to market. Somehow they find a way to work around these constraints and create an environment of abundance.

3. Entrepreneurs thrive on being immersed in a dynamic environment. Things are constantly changing in an increasingly fast paced world in which real time is often too slow – anticipating change and course correcting come naturally to entrepreneurs.

In my work I only have a finite amount of time I can dedicate to each entrepreneur I work with and so oftentimes I am faced with having to make choices about who I dedicate my time to. Over the years this has come down to a gut instinct and I have learned to trust this – ignoring it at my peril and the opportunity cost of working with other entrepreneurs.

In choosing which entrepreneurs to dedicate my energy to I look for how well they fit into the three entrepreneurial constants mentioned above. I do allow for the ability to grow and expand their entrepreneurial skill set, but ultimately the kernel of entrepreneurship needs to be very present.

The second generation Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Bill Draper, also has a set of constants he looks for in the entrepreneurs he works with. He discussed these in a recent interview with the International Business Times:

“I look for vision. I look for how much homework they’ve done on their idea, how closely they monitor the competition, how far they think ahead, and how much they know how the world works.

They also need to have energy, drive, and be sensitive to other people.”

Wise words from one of the legends of the space. Bill has recently published a book on his experiences titled The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs. Well worth a read.

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2 thoughts on “What’s It Take To Be The Quintessential Entrepreneur?

  1. Great stuff Randal and all very true.

    Many think they have what it takes but when crunch comes to crunch many just can’t come up with the goods personally.

    It’s all about attitude, experience can be gained but it’s what a person is made of that counts.

    – Julian

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