Let’s take a break from life insurance for a minute and talk about business. One of the most interesting job titles a person can have besides Ice Cream Taste Tester or International Super Spy would have to be the almighty “Entrepreneur.” There’s just something about that word that’s mysteriously interesting and hip all at the same time. Maybe because it screams “Hey! Look at me! I’m different than most people! I’m my own boss!” I’d have to agree — I’d be more interested in listening to someone with “entrepreneur” as their job title rather than an “account representative” any day of the week. However, not all entrepreneurs are created equal. I’d much rather speak with the CEO of Tesla Motors as opposed to the creator of Throx. I have no problem with people calling themselves entrepreneurs, but if they do, I often wonder what category of entrepreneur they fall into. Here are my four classifications:
1) The Wantrepreneur
A wantrepreneur is best classified as a “wannabe” entrepreneur. This type of person is not really an entrepreneur at all, but think they are. I’ve met a lot of people that fall into this category — some with grand illusions of opening a boutique cupcake bakery — and others that fantasize about starting a t-shirt company that will somehow be different than the rest. Just because you’ve checked out some books from the library about starting a business or paid $10 to register a domain name doesn’t mean you’re an entrepreneur. Almost everybody has what they believe to be a great business idea, but the majority never take enough steps to turn their ideas into realities.
2) The Amateur Entrepreneur
The first real type of entrepreneur is an amateur. An amateur entrepreneur represents someone with little experience operating their own business, but is at least making steps to try and achieve success. Their heads are full of visions of grandeur, but they’ll make an abundance of rookie business mistakes along the way. For example, when I started a boat rental company back in 2005, I ordered 100 company branded t-shirts in the hopes of selling them for extra profit. I never sold a single one, but hey — at least I don’t have to buy any t-shirts for the next 20 years. Another foolish mistake I made was not keeping a close eye on my business financials. If I was renting boats, I knew I was making money, but looking back, my mismanagement was irresponsible. Making mistakes is part of learning, so keep figuring out what works and what doesn’t. At least you’re doing something with your ideas.
3) The Professional Entrepreneur
Execution is key when it comes to business success. Professional entrepreneurs were once amateurs, but somewhere along the way they managed to figure it out. To become a professional doesn’t happen overnight. These entrepreneurs have had many years of learning and perfecting their businesses, and know what it takes to start and grow a profitable company. Let’s face it, if you’re going to be a professional at anything in life, it takes mega hard work and dedication. I’ve yet to see a track and field Olympian wake up a month prior to the Olympic Games and decide they were going to compete. An “overnight success” in business requires 5 – 10 years of hard work mixed in with a little luck. The fact of the matter is not everyone has what it takes to be a professional entrepreneur. That’s my personal goal, but I’m certainly nowhere near attaining it yet.
4) The All Star Entrepreneur
All Stars are professional entrepreneurs that are not only at the top of their game, but everybody knows their name. These entrepreneurs have achieved celebrity status through developing great companies as well as using media outlets to gain massive exposure. A few notable examples of All Star Entrepreneurs are Mark Cuban and Richard Branson. These two all stars aren’t afraid to speak their mind and get in front of a camera. Most people will never reach all star status, and that’s OK. You can still be a professional entrepreneur and enjoy your millions outside of the spotlight.
If you truly are an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter where you rank, but that you keep progressing. Even Mark Cuban and Richard Branson started out with only an idea. Remember that execution is everything, and if you’re not perfecting your business and innovating, a smarter competitor certainly will. As an entrepreneur, you should always be open to trying new things, taking risks, and continue learning. And of course — never give up.