People come to entrepreneurship at different times and for different reasons. Yes, there are entrepreneurs who started out selling sweets to their friends in the playground. Research shows that typically entrepreneurs start their first venture after obtaining experience elsewhere. Maybe they’ve been made redundant; maybe they are fed up with the current way of doing things and want to try something new; maybe they just want to do their own thing.
However they start, entrepreneurs are people who make things happen. They’re practical people. Inventors worry late a night in the garden shed over an invention; entrepreneurs are the people who bring ideas out of the garden shed and into reality.
But successful entrepreneurship isn’t about entrepreneurs acting in isolation. It’s a team activity. Businesses founded by teams grow faster and further than those created by individuals. Really successful entrepreneurs need to build their organisations and ensure they change as they grow. Successful entrepreneurs take organisation development seriously. The biggest constraint on growth in any business is the capability and capacity of the management team, so entrepreneurs think seriously about senior management and board recruitment, and then performance management and reward. Yet entrepreneurship can still be a lonely activity: entrepreneurs benefit from coaching and support.
Entrepreneurs aren’t just involved in start-ups. Big businesses interested in keeping their organisations fresh often look at fostering internal sources of entrepreneurship. Such organisations appreciate that they need to think afresh about how to structure their approach to entrepreneurship (or ‘intrapreneurship’, as it is often known in big business) if they are to give it a chance to succeed and prevent it from being stifled by the big business culture.
Rupert Merson is a recognised authority on entrepreneurship: how to turn a good business idea into a sustainable business; how to prevent your established business from crushing your good idea before it has even started.