in General

Entrepreneurship is not a religion.


“So, what does it really take to become an entrepreneur?”

This is the rhetorical question that a speaker at a business start-up or networking seminar will often ask. Whether it’s lecturing University students, or wannabe millionaires the answers are always the same.

“It takes responsibility, action, dedication, attitude, resilience, ownership, money, time, effort, persistence, drive, determination, lack of doubt…”

And of course all of those things are nice, but the thing is – the thing you need more than anything else is CUSTOMERS and THEIR MONEY.

What good is responsibility, action, dedication, persistence, drive, determination if you don’t have any customers or money? Persistence does not put food on the table. Drive does not get you customers, and responsibility means squat if you can’t keep the roof over your head?

In addition, I often wonder – if you’re good on action, dedication and determination, but really bad at time keeping, does this mean you’re a bad entrepreneur? Never mind the fact that the title “entrepreneur” is something given to you by your peers, and not awarded to yourself.

However, there is a much darker issue at play here. What’s the one thing that links the entire catalogue of power words is “faith”.

That’s because, whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not, they are ultimately selling entrepreneurship as an alternative religion; which you must pay guidance to, because if you don’t – you’re a failure. Not just as a business person, but as a human being.

In a sense, I believe that entrepreneurship has been hijacked by those who wish to claim it as a new age quasi religion where entrepreneurship is not the “means”, but the “end”. Being an entrepreneur is now no longer a title given to you by your peers, you merely now call yourself an entrepreneur, dress up in a nice suit and wear a open neck white dress shirt, drive a BMW and away you go.

What makes any of these “religious sermons” even worse is when the speaker utters the well-worn phrase “entrepreneurs are born, and not made” — any time you hear this phrase, you know they are talking complete BOLLOCKS and should be immediately BOOED off the stage.

I know this is the first time I’ve actually swore on this blog, but I think I should qualify the reasoning behind it.

By saying “entrepreneurs are born, and not made” they are effectively saying the following;

  • Entrepreneurs are born, and not made. so you shouldn’t try.
  • Entrepreneurs are born, not made; therefore if you don’t have the right upbringing, gene code or environment you shouldn’t try
  • There is a special gene, magic ingredient to success and you don’t have it unless you’re born with it.
  • By the very fact that I am standing on a stage talking to you proves my tautology of “entrepreneurs being born and not made”.

Here’s my problem with “that” statement. It seems to forget that there are examples of people throughout history who found their calling, purpose or whatever because of an event in their life. Reading Lincoln, Hannibal or anyone who was successful will show he didn’t that they get purpose as a right of passage because of his birth, he was awakened by the NEED to do something, the positive force of ACTION is far greater than any word spoken or written by any man.

People are made by their actions. Its not how you start, its how you finish. These are ideas that I feel more comfortable with, as it reinforces the idea that any one person can change his or her situation and make a success of themselves.

Yes there is a small % of people who are truly gifted, Maradona, Pele, but certainly not the % of people who go around lecture circuits who wrap their conversations in meta-physics or selling you the idea that if you buy “these books” or “these audio tapes” you can make a success of yourself.

Another issue I find frustrating is the need to copy a successful person on a stage, or in a book and wrap themselves in physical assets. Be your own person.

I remember one event where a kid was sharing a stage with a local millionaire who was obviously idolising his hero, and saying to the crowd how he wanted to be rich like him and drive a fast car and basically mirror his success. He said he wanted to escape the “rat race”.

Unfortunately he hadn’t realised that he was still, by definition, in the “rat race”, but now he was in the “affluenza” rat race. I didn’t understand why it was necessary to buy the rich car, the rich house; its what society expects of us, rather than what we expect of ourselves.

This is one of the principal reasons why I just won’t watch the BBC’s “Dragon’s Den” any more. The show is obviously more of a “boo hiss” pantomime than anything else; but the show stinks of the values that I really despise and reinforces the idea that the 80’s “Wall Street” of doing business is the only way to do business.

The thing with entrepreneurship is that it seems to be a buzzword, a title given to yourself by yourself in a subtle way to say your part of the “in-crowd” and have to constantly live up to this new “rock star” image, constantly proving yourself to your peers, etc, etc.

The whole thing is really a mess; the marketing gimmick of entrepreneurship sells you books, audio tapes, seminars, courses and various other things; but never really ever delivers – because what every entrepreneur sermon speaker fails to forget is that, ultimatley, you’re running a business, not a church.