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Entrepreneurism: do you have it?


Just what is an entrepreneur? According to Jeff Stibel, writing for HBR.org, entrepreneurship can be likened to a disease. Explaining his reasoning, he says: "Having it myself, I am not always sure it is a good thing.  That so many people wish to suffer from it just tells me they don't understand it."

Stibel maintains that being an entrepreneur is very different to the common perception. Successful small business owners and start-up founders are not necessarily entrepreneurs, he insists.

The author says: "It is not about behaviour (whether risk-prone or risk-averse); it is not about business type (you can run a small business, a public company, a division of a company, or be an investor); and it is not about title (you do not have to be a CEO to be an entrepreneur). Instead, I see it as a personality trait."


Stibel says entrepreneurs are "all in, all the time", both loving what they do and obsessing over it. And it seems you either have the "disease" or you don't; it cannot be trained, caught or treated, he warns.

Explaining an important distinction, the Stibel says: "What drives an entrepreneur is not money. That is what drives businesses and business people. But for an entrepreneur, money is merely a yardstick."

To back up this claim, the author points out that entrepreneurism is a "very difficult and unpredictable" way of making a living and most entrepreneurs "fail miserably". To increase their chances of success, entrepreneurs must play to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

Stibel says: "Entrepreneurs have an upper hand… the energy level is higher, the confidence level is higher, and with time, entrepreneurs have a higher tendency to acquire subject-matter expertise."

So the author concludes: "If you are an entrepreneur, use it to your advantage. But if not, don't try to become one. (It won't work – and why try to contract a disease? You wouldn't try to get the measles). Instead, figure out what you do best and aim to do it better than anyone else. And if your organisation needs an entrepreneur for it to succeed, just hire one."

Entrepreneurship as Disease
Jeff Stibel