A great article by local entrepreneur Arlo Gilbert…
Fortunately, I have attended a lot of Dallas startup events in the past few years. Happy hours, pitch days, pitch nights, fireside chats, coffee clubs, lunch & learns, angel events, you name it. There are definitely people in our community who are more active, but not many.
At every event I try to befriend somebody new. Without fail, at every single event I end up meeting somebody who really wants to be an entrepreneur. Usually they tell me how they are working at some job that they don’t like and they really want to be an entrepreneur if they could just find the right opportunity. Often they tell me all about the obstacles they have to being an entrepreneur. One particular individual used the phrase “my problem is” more than 30 times during a ten minute conversation (I lost count) while explaining how he couldn’t become an entrepreneur while teaching.
I have never seen one of these people more than once. They don’t come back. They don’t show up again and again and continue to network and learn. Why? I have theories but I won’t pretend to know and that is beyond the scope of this post.
As a culture we are inundated with movies, tv shows and articles about entrepreneurs. We see Mark Cuban talking about what it takes to build a successful company and there are 163,000,000 search results on LinkedIn about the habits of the successful, as though through imitation we will succeed. This cultural elevation of entrepreneurs seems comical to most people I know who run their own businesses. Being an entrepreneur just means trying. It doesn’t mean hiring 50 people, joining an accelerator, raising capital and getting on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt.
According to Merriam-Webster, the origin of the word entrepreneur is the French “entreprendre” which means “to undertake”. “Undertake” means “to begin” or “to attempt”. The modern definition of the word “entrepreneur” has evolved a bit but its roots remain the same. Being an entrepreneur is not about wealth or success. Being an entrepreneur is about making an effort. It is about doing.
All of the above leads us to the main idea of this article: You’ve got to be in business to get business. By that I simply mean that you can not seize an opportunity from the sidelines as an observer. Every business I have started has lead me to another business. Almost every business I have participated in evolved out of something I was already doing where I discovered a new opportunity. Had I been working a 9-5 and doing somebody else’s work, I would never have been in a position to discover OR execute 99.9% of my ideas.
Attending an event for entrepreneurs and wishing you were an entrepreneur is a bit like standing on a sidewalk and wishing you were walking. Just do it! Start moving your feet! You become an entrepreneur the moment you take action and stop wishing. The moment you begin trying is the moment that you can begin introducing yourself as an entrepreneur.
Business opportunities present themselves to many people simultaneously, identical ideas and lightbulbs happen to many people at once. The individuals who are in a position to execute and profit from the opportunities are those who are already doing something.
You might come across a great opportunity in the widget vertical but if you aren’t already up and running and doing SOME kind of business, odds are wildly against you being able to seize the opportunity and execute.
You might find yourself imagining the latest greatest local social mobile crypto currency payment in-game advertising system for Google Glass. Guess what, one of the other 7.2 Billion people on the planet just thought of the same idea and it is now a race! If you have to quit your job, incorporate and begin networking to execute this brilliant strategy, you are already behind.
Sometimes getting into business is about pursuing a particular idea that you are passionate about but more often than people realize, getting into business is about exercising entrepreneurial muscles and being at the right place at the right time with the right skills.
If being an entrepreneur is really what you want to do (that is a separate conversation,) then start doing it now. Do it part time on the side if you’re employed full time. Do it full time immediately if you’re unemployed. Start attending the many free educational sessions at places like the DEC. Do the selling, do the building, sell yourself, sell something, offer a service, create a product, sell software that doesn’t even exist yet!
What you’ll find is that just by virtue of being in business, you will be in a position to seize the next great opportunity when you discover it.
This entry was originally published on my blog at ArloGilbert.com