Thursday, October 21, 2010

Be An Adventure Capitalist

Entrepreneurs Know Bold Action Wins The Day

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Venture capitalists are investors who specialize in funding start-up businesses, to put it simply. They are money people; they want to invest in viable commercial ventures which create strong cash flows, and then make a tidy profit down the road. They expect to have the occasional "klunker" among the businesses in which they invest, and therefore tend to spread their risk within a portfolio of start-up investments.

They're entrepreneurs, to be sure, willing to take risks to create opportunities for themselves and others, and calculating those risks to pay off (often handsomely).

But not all of them are capital-E "Entrepreneurs" in the way I've often described one of the two types of people out there. There are Entrepreneurs, who take Big Ideas to the marketplace and work hard to make their enterprises successful, and there are Victims, who tend toward criticism and need to be taken care of.

In essence, I see Entrepreneurship as an attitude, a philosophy of life. Victimhood is a rival attitude born of a completely different worldview.

Not all Entrepreneurs own or invest in businesses; not all who do those things are Entrepreneurs, in the attitudinal sense. Entrepreneurs take bold action; Victims are happier to criticize those bold actions. I've described it thus: the Entrepreneur is the actor onstage, taking risks, putting it all out there, performing. The Victim would rather be the theater critic. When it's all over, the Entrepreneur gets the applause (or the boos and hisses)... and the best among them never pays attention to her reviews.

The Victim sits around in bars and coffee shops with other generally-dissatisfied critics, exchanging snarky comments and praising himself for his snide intelligence and the way he "sees through" all the "hype." And the theater critic always forgets that, without the actor, he's out of work.

In my experience, the most successful employees have an Entrepreneurial attitude. They always seem to consider that they are in business for themselves, even if they have the traditional employment arrangement with a company in which they enjoy no ownership. Owner or not, the Entrepreneur works her job as if she owned the company, and they were her assets on the line every day. Entrepreneurs take bold actions - actions their less-Entrepreneurial co-workers often see as risky - with an undominable positivity and lots of energy. They work unpaid overtime, and if the boss asks why, they make a little joke of it by saying something like "Well, I decided to run a special this week on my labor, and I hope you'll be pleased and keep me employed." Can you picture the Victim-type ever doing or saying such things?

Entrepreneurs are Adventure Capitalists. To them, most of whom own a business, the opportunity to create a viable commercial concern - to find and keep happy customers - is the great adventure of life. Like almost all famous businesspeople of all time, they fail time and time again, but never lose that spirit of adventure that tells them they'll hit it big one day.

Don't lose heart. Stay bold. Times are tough, but every time they are, some people get rich. And those people are the Entrepreneurs who refuse to let their inner Victim steal their optimism. They're the Adventure Capitalists, and they (you!) will lead us to the better times ahead.