22 January 2014

I was recently asked what the word ‘entrepreneur’ meant to me, and it got me thinking. Aside from being a terrible word to spell, it’s one that holds different meaning to the word ‘businessperson’.

Personally, I think a businessperson has a life span. You can be a businessperson and invest in and run businesses but at some point you’re allowed to switch off, whereas being an entrepreneur is almost like an illness! There’s nowhere to hide. In those gaps between sleep and awake where ordinarily people would be thinking about nice things, there’s a mechanical thing going on constantly and it never stops, always looking for another way to do something. I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s hell!

I don’t know many people who have this but I know I’ve got it and its made me seek out other people with the same “illness”. That’s why when I met Tony Robbins and wrote out my goals, I thought, ‘you know what, I need to meet Richard Branson’. I’ve read a lot of his books and I just thought, ‘I get this man.’

I think it’s maybe why we actually get on. While some people might meet Richard and think they could do business with him, I just see a fun dad who is more interested in having a snowball fight or making somebody feel comfortable than the businesspeople who might position themselves as entrepreneurs but aren’t. The likes of Alan Sugar – they’re businesspeople. They’re not entrepreneurs.

An entrepreneur is somebody who takes another person and is more interested in fuelling an idea and a lifestyle for somebody else and creating jobs and opportunity than they are about the money side of things. Making money is a by-product of a successful business, and an entrepreneur will probably put people in to run their businesses but they’ll always be sitting at the back, thinking about the next thing.

I think, looking at Richard Branson, that’s probably why he is, arguably, the greatest entrepreneur in the world (and I’m going to give him a run for his money there). To use an analogy, he is the orchestra conductor not the lead violinist. He’s putting lots of lead violinists in to play their parts, always linking people to opportunities.

I’m not very good at many things but one thing I do have is this desire to be constantly helping people turn something that’s a negative into a positive. That’s where I get my satisfaction. You could say I’m a bad entrepreneur because I often put a lot into things I’m not going to get money back out of but ultimately I think that’s the different between an entrepreneur and a businessperson. What do you think?

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