Entrepreneurship is sexy. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg and Elon Musk are all people who reinvented the world. People envision these successes are intimidated by entrepreneurship.
Not only is it difficult to start a business, but it’s even more difficult to start a one that reimagines a the way we interact with our world. Luckily, most entrepreneurship isn’t sexy and it doesn’t have to be! Most people who start businesses are really arbitrageurs, a subset of entrepreneurs. That is, they start a new business that already has been proven and just make it a little better. And that is perfectly okay! Examples would be local banks, auto mechanics, creative agencies etc.. These are all proven businesses, just being done differently in another location.
This distinction was first brought to my attention in my third year as an Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation major at the University of Delaware. I dreamt of being a (capital “E”) Entrepreneur like Musk and Jobs. As I examined my ideas and previous ventures, I realized I fell more in the arbitrageur category.
For example, my tennis camp is based on the 80/20 rule where I believe I can provide 80% of the value of a professional instructor at 20% of the cost thus opening the service up to a new class of consumers. Yes, it was entrepreneurial to start this venture, but I didn’t really make anything new about how tennis was taught.
To be honest, I was a little sad to realize that most of my ideas aren’t revolutionary. I was more along the lines of building a marginally better mousetrap. It’d be much cooler to be the guy to invent something that prevents the need for mousetraps all together by utilizing some mouse patrolling robot that transported them to better habitats or something.
We idolize huge VC rounds and founders who were too crazy to ever listen to the people who told them “no.” This isn’t what entrepreneurship has to be. An annoying problem and a simple solution are all that are really needed to start a business. Whether that problem is that there isn’t a car wash in your town, or that there is no Artificial Intelligence that can schedule your weekly meetings (which there actually might be, at this point), both are opportunities.
The entrepreneurial mindset is all about identifying problems, framing them as opportunities and then finding a solution that people will love.
Our idolization of tech darlings, I believe, has started to discourage people who might entrepreneurial paths. They quickly write themselves off as not having any ideas simply because their ideas aren’t as revolutionary as Tesla. I experience the effects of this every week as President of the Entrepreneurship Club at the University of Delaware.
“Entrepreneurship” isn’t a word that should scare. Entrepreneurship is accessible to all who are willing to look at a world and take the action to make it better. You don’t need to conquer the world, you just need to make a few people happy. In fact, that’s how all ventures have to start!
Let’s take the edge off the word “entrepreneur” and realize that we can all be entrepreneurial in small ways every day.