Innate desire to make a dent in the universe + repeatedly getting punched in the face by a problem + decision to stop getting punched in the face = entrepreneur.
I just came back from the Dublin Web Summit, where 3000 Internet entrepreneurs in all shapes, sizes colors, religions and nationalities gathered to geek out for a few days in Ireland. With so much diversity of ideas, cultures and belief systems floating around, it made me wonder if there are any common traits that make up an entrepreneur.
As far I as can tell the only common theme that runs through all leaders (be it political, business, educational, humanitarian) is an innate desire to do cool shit — to make a dent in the universe and leave the planet a tiny bit better than they found it.
I think entrepreneurs share this same desire. I don’t know any entrepreneurs who started off their career seeking entrepreneurship as an end unto itself. Rather, I’ve found that almost all good entrepreneurs tend to be accidental entrepreneurs. That is – they didn’t choose entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship chose them.
Accidental entrepreneurs are often people who were making a dent in the universe in all sorts of professions before they were ever entrepreneurs. They might have been teachers (like Daphne Koller of Coursera), or film producers (like Jim Gilliam of Nation Builder) or consultants (like Ryan Howard of Practice Fusion), but then one day they encountered a problem that punched them square in the face. And this problem kept punching them in the face day in and day out, consuming their every thought, until they had no choice but to put everything else aside and start punching back. At this moment in time, whether it was their intention or not, they become an entrepreneur. This is just one definition. In the comments, I’d love to hear how you guys define an entrepreneur.