You’re Not an Entrepreneur? Really?

Probably most of you aren’t what would normally be described as an entrepreneur. Wikipedia says that’s “an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.” However, I believe there’s an element of entrepreneurship in most people, whether they recognize it or not. It’s just that in many cases, the business they’re in and the product they’re selling is themselves and their skills. I think we might call these people “personal entrepreneurs.”

All Entrepreneurs Need Customers

My view of the situation received a boost when I read an article a couple of days ago by Jay Block, titled “Ain’t No Sunshine When There Ain’t No Customers.” The following quote from his article lays out what I consider to be a few key points:

“…what we have come to know as entrepreneurship, has NO VALUE, until it creates something a customer wants….Successful entrepreneurship…and business success is dependent upon identifying and pursuing customers who have ‘the ability to pay’ and ‘the desire to buy’….Most entrepreneurs don’t have working models and strategic plans to identify paying customers and to provide value propositions to entice customers to part with their money.”

I should note that Jay’s article is focused on the subject of innovators versus entrepreneurs and the problem of trying to generate jobs in a difficult economy. However, I can easily see the value of his points for a serious job seeker or any individual focused on effective career management.

So Maybe You Are an Entrepreneur and Don’t Know It

Your entrepreneurial spirit just needs to be directed toward the “business activities” you should be engaging in to achieve a productive job search campaign or career management plan. That includes identifying as precisely as possible several critical factors, including what it is you want to sell, to whom you want to sell it and what value you believe can and should be placed on it (in other words, reasonably expected compensation). For instance, you might think you’re “worth” a certain amount of salary, but unless you can find the right company and convince them of that, it doesn’t matter what you think you’re worth.

Note that identifying customers (employers) who will pay and getting them to part with their money (salary, etc.) might not be an easy task for you to tackle, but it’s essential. As a personal entrepreneur, you aren’t likely to have someone else who’s going to take care of this for you, although I certainly hope you will have a support team who can help you do what you need to do.

One last point on the subject: Your personal entrepreneurship must continue even after you land your next job. Your performance on that job needs to convince your boss (and the rest of the company, in fact) that he/she made a wise choice in hiring you—that you are worth every dollar of your salary and a lot more besides. It should also position you to make an even better “sale” when you’re ready to move again, by giving you impressive ammunition to share with the next prospective employer.

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