What Makes a Great Entrepreneur?
This was originally published in my free weekly newsletter, How It Actually Works.
I don’t claim this to be the only description of what makes a great entrepreneur, it’s just what I’ve seen in the best entrepreneurs I personally know.
Less thinking, more doing
To a fault, they move faster than anyone else I know. “Shouldn’t we stop and think about XYZ first?” is almost always my initial reaction, but they just keep moving anyway.
Even better: I’m often right about some predictable problem. But the error is subtle, in that I almost always overestimate the cost of the problem. Some attempt doesn’t work and the entrepreneur just forgets it and moves on to the next thing.
One of Sam Walton’s employees said that Sam was “less afraid of being wrong than anyone I’ve ever known…Once he sees he’s wrong, he just shakes it off and heads in another direction.”
Really the cost for most people when they try something that doesn’t work is to their ego. Being wrong makes them feel bad about themself, or embarrasses them in front of others.
Doesn’t care what people think of them
Not in the sense that they’re assholes who are jerks all the time, but that they enjoy the exploration and discovery that comes from being an entrepreneur for its own sake.
If other people think an idea is stupid, who cares, it was fun to try and now we’re moving on to the next thing anyway.
Ideas are clay in their hands
Ideas are tweaked, adjusted, combined, removed… they’re the building blocks of entrepreneurship.
No idea scares a great entrepreneur. Feasibility is important, but is considered much later after it’s decided whether an idea is actually good.
Why does this matter? Because so many valuable things are going to appear impossible.
They can sell
Should go without saying. This is 90% of the job.
If you liked this essay....
Then consider signing up for my newsletter, How It Actually Works.
It contains the best material I find anywhere – this means books, articles, podcasts, research, videos, Twitter threads... the most interesting stuff that will give you something to say.
1,000s of Silicon Valley executives, investors, and leaders read it every week.