This year marked my tenth year as entrepreneur. I have seen the good and the bad of entrepreneurship. It’s been one heck of a journey. It’s hard to believe it has already been 10 years! Steve Jobs said it best when he said you should never consider entrepreneurship if you you don’t have a great idea, a wrong you want to right or the passion to change the world. He said entrepreneurship is so hard that if you don’t have all three of the above you are going to struggle an eventually quit.
Someone said to me that Steve Jobs was not all that. The person went on to say that Steve Jobs probably told a thousand faceless geeks that he wanted his music collection in a small device. The geeks went away and came back with an IPod. Or worse the geeks already had an iPod and just went to Steve to ask for his music collection. The point this guy was making was that Steve was not a true inventor like Edison or Bell. Steve didn’t personally go through a thousand filaments in order to invent a light bulb like Edison. All Steve did was walk on stage wearing jeans with no belt and a black turtleneck. He took credit for something his minions built. To prove his point this guy goes on to say, “hey…Apple still releases IPhones even after Steve’s death, so there!”
Hmm, this got me thinking…to be a leader must you also be a doer?
One of the things I hate about being an entrepreneur is being surrounded by so many wrong people doing the right jobs. There is supposedly so much money in this country for entrepreneurship but the people who are supposed to dispense it have never a run bath let alone a business. There is so much enterprise development funding been given to agencies to dispense and incubate entrepreneurs. Who said entrepreneurs needed incubation to begin with? Did anyone ever stop and ask what entrepreneurs want?! I heard that some of the agencies charge as much as R650k to government to incubate one entrepreneur! Money that should be going to entrepreneurs is going to middlemen.
So my pet hate as an entrepreneur is when you walk to a funder’s office and you can see that this person has no inkling of what it means to be an entrepreneur and yet he or she is what stands between you and your business’s growth capital. Does one have to be an entrepreneur to be able to assess a business for funding? Did Steve Jobs have to be an inventor to take credit for the iPhone? As an entrepreneur I would say yes to both questions. But I would also say I would settle for a combination. If you are a leader I can imagine that you can’t be inventing and running a business. You have to work on your business and not in it. But as a leader you need to have people who are technical and that can execute. To be a really great leader, I would say that you need to have walked the path too. I think Steve Jobs was not a Bell or an Edison as was pointed out to me. I think Steve Jobs was a Visionary innovator and entrepreneur, like a Gates and a Branson. Perhaps the years of inventors are gone. Inventors changed the world but died poor.
Either way, what I know as an entrepreneur is that it often feels like I am a bank teller. I have “access” to money but it is not my money. I am always paying people, usually my staff and suppliers. I, on the other hand, like a bank teller, I don’t have any money….yet.
I don’t care whether you call me an inventor or an innovator. The title I most look forward to being called is angel investor.
The day when the money in the bank is mine, with no intermediaries siphoning money destined for entrepreneurs. The day I am the right person with the right job of funding entrepreneurs. As entrepreneur I will fund the jockeys and not the horses. It is people who start and run businesses and not the other way around. It’s not incubators either that start businesses. Yes incubators are important, but for them to be successful we need to start with right entrepreneurs. The incubator’s job is not to create entrepreneurs but to provide the faceless geeks and resources that the innovators need to change the world.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the IPhone. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 10 years how it’s changed the world and not to mention the billions it has made for Apple.