Entrepreneurship is such a tricky word. Not only do you need to sound it out when you spell it, because all those e’s get pretty dodgy, but it means different things to different people. If you asked ten different entrepreneurs about their path from startup to success and how they definte entrepreneurship, they’ll all have taken different paths – in some cases, wildly so, and vastly different answers.
The Harvard Business Review, who pretty much cornered the market on teaching budding entrepreneurs, defines entrepreneurship as the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.
When you dissect that phrase it coalesces into three core ideas of focus, opportunity, and resource constraints.
In my mind, an entrepreneur is one who builds themselves up single-handedly. They minimize expense, investing their own time, personal funds, and drive forward with single-minded focus to ensure their venture is successful. Entrepreneurship fundamentally implies RISK. In my mind, that means personal risk, personal investment, personal time.
To me, entrepreneurship is not being given your money by your family. It is not being handed funding on a silver platter. It is not asking for donations or seeking startup funds from sources not immediately involved in the founding stage. To me, a true entrepreneur makes their own startup funds. They start with what they have – be it intelligence, drive, ingenuity, a great idea, or a powerful service – and use their own implicit and inherent tools to drive their way to success.
Smarter Searches is not an overnight success. I’ve spent nights, weekends, holidays, vacations, and workdays meeting clients, building relationships, doing great work, and going above and beyond our clients’ expectations.
Is my perception and definition of entrepreneurship biased? UNQUESTIONABLY.
However, I pull this quote Brett Nelson writing for Forbes because it identifies my issues on this topic: “The relentless, seek-and-solve breed is our salvation. They are the ones forever craning their necks, addicted to ‘looking around corners’ and ‘changing the world.’ They—not lenders—are the real money multipliers: the ones who turn $1 of capital into $2, then $2 into $10, and $10 into $100.”
I’m proud to call myself an entrepreneur. I’m proud to be fully self-made. I’m not sure one could start a business more from scratch than I did. No clients. No background in sales or entrepreneurship. A desk in a hallway. A single laptop. A 45-page business plan and 8 years of experience, though, meant that I had the background and, almost more importantly, the drive to create success from nothing. I funded Smarter Searches with $7500 of my own personal savings – much of which was spent buying a new laptop, joining the Chambers of Commerce, printing business cards, and starting to pound the pavement to build our client portfolio, which started with a grand total of zero clients.
We are a debt-free company with a single-owner. Though taking on investors is something we’re open to, to this point every single milestone we have met has been self-won. I funded the company myself, I built the company myself, I started our online portfolio, and have hired all our employees. Now, as a cohesive and united team of five employees, we work together to increase sales, provide the highest quality of work possible, and continue to grow our brand in a way that is authentic to the dream I had four years ago.
Wish me luck in my nomination as Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Pinnacle Awards in three weeks. Only one woman has won in the last thirteen years and I’ve worked immensely hard to get to this point.