The 5 Different Faces of Entrepreneurs

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Creating a sustainable, profitable business as an entrepreneur is an extremely challenging feat. Some individuals, however, manage to go all the way to the top and are now some of the world’s wealthiest people. While all entrepreneurs share basic characteristics such as hard-working, innovative and persistent, more often than not they will be labelled or pigeonholed in a certain way. Below you will find just five of the different ways entrepreneurs are perceived.

1. The Visionary

This is probably the entrepreneur that you are used to hearing and reading about. They are often larger than life, a beacon to others who only dream of making it. They are the face of their companies and are very gifted at clearly articulating and conveying their goals, thereby getting their entire team of employees and customers on board. Think of Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg.

2. The Troublemaker

While the word troublemaker is rather harsh, certain individuals in the business world have certainly garnered a reputation for being demanding and lacking people skills. Steve Jobs is a prime example of this; many colourful words have been used to describe his personality and there are plenty of stories regarding his unconventional management style.

3. The Optimist

These are the figures that take defeat in their stride and refuse to give up. They are always looking to the future and trying to decide what business venture they should try next. Australian businessman Ron Bakir experienced personal and legal trouble that left him without much of his fortune. A few years later he managed to reinvent himself and is now the CEO of a very successful property development company.

4. The Mentor

This type of entrepreneur is regarded as being gentle, nurturing and positive. They will often be seen engaging in motivational or charitable activities. Tony Robbins has built an entire empire on the motivational speaking and mentoring movement but don’t forget that he is also a savvy businessman who found his niche in the marketplace and played to his strengths.

5. The Philanthropist

At some point in a successful entrepreneur’s career, they start to think less about profits and more about giving back to the world. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are some of the world’s most famous humanitarians, donating large amounts of money through their foundation. Another well-known philanthropist is of course Oprah Winfrey, who has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of education for women and children through her foundation.

In reality, entrepreneurs are three dimensional people with virtues and faults. In fact, most individuals in the business world will be a visionary, dictator, optimist, mentor and philanthropist rolled into one. Media coverage and PR spin are often the reasons why we receive a particular view or opinion of someone.

Which figure do you identify most with? Was it Ron Bakir’s story of triumph against the odds that struck a chord? Or is it Richard Branson’s brand of innovative fun that appeals to you? Whatever your opinion, let us know by commenting in the box below.

The importance of focus for entrepreneurs

Many of us are guilty of this. Instead of focusing on the execution of our most important initiatives, we keep coming up with new ideas. In some ways this is critical in the new economy, where everything moves very quickly. You have to be alert and opportunistic.

That said, there’s a real danger in spreading yourself too thin. You have to learn to focus on what’s important. This article explains the concept in the terms of domain names for Internet entrepreneurs. If you have over 300 domain names, maybe you’re brainstorming too much and not executing enough?

Start-ups offer free college education

The cost of college tuition is skyrocketing, so it’s not surprising that some entrepreneurs are trying to fill the void.

Technology start-ups are cracking into the higher education market and there pitch is an enticing one: A college education for anyone at almost no cost.

Sound to good to be true? The founders of tech start-ups behind this revolutionary idea say they have already had success with their models, but they say there needs to be more momentum if their idea is to succeed.
“The 99% should be protesting college campuses,” says Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University artificial intelligence professor, who recently co-founded Udacity, a technology start-up dedicated to providing higher education at a very low cost.

Two companies doing this are Udemy and Udacity. The new trend is self-education with all of the tools out there, including free lectures on iTunes and Khan Academy.

Smart employers will start to figure this out as well, and I suspect in the future we’ll see job applicants will put a Self-Education section on their resumes. It shows initiative and prospective employers can always quiz applicants on what they learned for verification.

Kathy Ireland discusses entrepreneurship

When you watch this interview with Kathy Ireland, you get a real sense of the determination and persistence that’s required for someone to be a successful entrepreneur. You have to expect failures but then be prepared to learn from them. It’s easier said than done of course, but you have to be prepared for this.

Watch the video, and you can see the character traits that make a successful entrepreneur.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Finding employees through social media

We often discuss how you can use social media to find a job. But this works both ways of course. Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a small company or a PR executive at a large enterprise, you must be aware of how and why social media can be an effective tool in finding employees. Mashable has a great article about 5 ways that social media is revolutionizing talent acquisition. Read the entire article and you’ll see how social media recruitment is a trend you should be following.

Maximize your LinkedIn account

LinkedIn is a critical resource for networking in today’s world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer looking for more exposure or someone looking for a new job, it’s important to have a complete LinkedIn profile and to put your best face forward. This is a critical part of your personal branding, and it’s also a great way for prospective employers or prospective customers to find you.

This article has 10 common mistakes and very helpful tips for managing your LinkedIn account.

1. Not Displaying Your Personal Photo
It all really comes down to having social media credibility or not. There are too many fake profiles on LinkedIn, so you want to show that you are real. If you have taken the time to complete your LinkedIn profile, why wouldn’t you display your photo? It just raises too many potential questions. And company logos or photos of pets obviously have no value here

2. LinkedIn Profile Headline is Not Branded Enough
See that space underneath your name? That is your “Professional” or Profile Headline. It will appear in search results next to your name, as well as next to any questions you ask or answer. It is, in essence, your elevator speech in a few words. Are you just putting your title and company name here? Don’t! This is the place where you need to appeal to anyone who finds you in a search result to reach out and look at your profile. Your Profile Headline is the single most important piece of real estate on your LinkedIn Profile, and you need to brand it as such. This really ties into personal branding as a job applicant.

Read the entire article and update your LinkedIn page today. Also, check out more LinkedIn tips from this blog.

Cool jobs – sports

Many sports fans fantasize about have a job in the sports industry, whether as a sports agent, a general manager of a sports team or as a sportswriter. Fortune recently ran a profile of Steve Greenberg, the king of the sports deal. He’s one of the most powerful man in the sports business, and his story can be helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about this business and possibly find a career there.

Of course, few people have the connections or education this guy had, but we’re not talking about replicating his incredible career. It’s about learning things about the business you want to be in, and then figuring out if there’s a place for you!

More workers use the beach as their office

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This is a great trend. With easy high-speed Internet access and improved technology, more people can work anywhere they like, and many of them are choosing to work at the beach.

While you’re Dilberting away in your cubicle, there are people taking conference calls in board shorts and flip-flops. While you’re saving your two weeks of vacation to hit the sand, they’re getting paid to be there. There are people—even respectable people—who have somehow turned a folding chair into a place of work.

Aided by technology, pioneers are now converting the beach into a fully functional office. People who work from the beach in non-hotel, non-burger-stand, non-pot-dealer capacities are still rare enough that no agency tracks the phenomenon. Brooks Brothers does not yet make a three-piece bathing suit; Herman Miller doesn’t sell an Aeron chaise.

It’s not like these beach workers are slackers; they just don’t like being controlled. It’s the same reason why we TiVo shows or e-mail and text more than call. When you can work from wherever you want to be—especially if it’s the place where everyone wants to be—work isn’t so bad.

It helps to be self-employed.

Yes, it definitely helps to be self-employed. It’s frankly one of the best reasons to take control of your career and start your own business from home . . . or the beach.

That said, this option is open to everyone who is willing to take more control of their career. Sure, you may not be able to do it all the time, but you’d be surprised how often you can escape the office if you begin to train your boss.

This is one of the arguments popularized by Tim Ferris. Check out his site at 4-Hour Workweek for ways to do this. In a nutshell, they key is showing your boss over time that you can spend days away from the office and still be just as productive. Once you establish this, it won’t matter whether you do this from your home or from an exotic beach. He doesn’t have to know and he shouldn’t care if he does.

In defense of the emerging freelance economy

As technology becomes cheaper and more powerful, an entrepreneur can have a very profitable business without having any employees. This has always been true for many professionals, but now it applies to many more people. For example, many lawyers had to rely upon secretaries in the past. Yet now you can learn how to use a powerful word processing program and there’s no need for staff. With today’s tough economic conditions, it’s likely this trend is accelerating, as many people are finding ways to pay the bills by offering up their services on an independent contractor basis in lieu of finding a new job.

As pointed out in Forbes, this new trend is making it more difficult to get accurate employment statistics.

Steinberg works 30 to 40 hours a week. But along with millions of other contractors, she may not show up on the radar of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles unemployment statistics by surveying households and counting pay stubs. No one knows how many freelancers, part-timers and consultants there are–the Government Accountability Office took a stab in 2006, guesstimating that the group made up 30% of all workers–much less how many escape the notice of the BLS. “It’s difficult to track, and is often misclassified or not accounted for by the Department of Labor,” says Sarah Horowitz, director of the Freelancers Union in Brooklyn, N.Y. One thing is certain: The shape of the so-called informal economy is changing.

For some, this obviously involves unreported income, yet I suspect that’s not true for most of the new entrepreneurs. Many of them want to work at home, do something they love or want the freedom of being their own boss. In many cases they are selling goods and services that aren’t purchased on a cash basis, so hiding income really isn’t an option. Also, many people want to have a legitimate business that they can grow, and worrying about hiding income from the IRS is not part of the plan.

Some like Scott Shane are concerned by this trend.

Myth: The total number of businesses created is what matters, not the types of businesses that are being created.

Reality: I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in what entrepreneurship in America is becoming. Over the past decade, we have been creating more non-employer businesses and fewer employer businesses per capita. (Employer businesses are companies that the Census Bureau reports have at least one employee; non-employer businesses have no employees.) As a result, the employer business share of the total businesses has slipped four percentage points since 1997, from 26.4% of the total in 1997 to 22.4% in 2007 (see figure to the right). Moreover, there is nothing in the data to suggest that this trend is going to reverse itself anytime soon.

Why am I concerned about this trend? Non-employer businesses aren’t the source of job or wealth creation that employer businesses are, which means the U.S. economy doesn’t benefit as much from them. By definition, non-employer businesses don’t create any jobs, and their sales and profits are quite low. So low, in fact, that the Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey of Business Owners indicated that only 44% of non-employer businesses were the primary source of income for their owners.

To boot, non-employer businesses’ are becoming less substantial over time. According to Census data, the average revenues at these firms have declined about 12% in real terms since 2000, when they were less than $50,000 per year to begin with.

Of course you’d rather have businesses that hire plenty of employees, but that doesn’t mean one-person operations don’t have a net positive effect on the economy. First, it provides a lucrative and appealing option for many people. It offers them a lifestyle that they might not be able to achieve working for a company, and it allows many to do something they love as well. That’s a good thing. Also, these small business offer services that other companies value. In many instances they can offer better services for a better price as they don’t have overhead and can be very efficient with today’s technology. Again, more efficiency helps the overall economy and lowers prices for everyone.

Small operations also unleash creativity, as people working for themselves are very motivated and aren’t constrained by the bureaucracy of a larger organization. Imagine where the Internet would be today without these types of entrepreneurs.

Finally, some of these one-person operations will grow and perhaps lead to larger companies with employees, or at least relationships with other service providers.

We should focus on measuring this trend better, but in many ways this can be a net plus for the growth of a modern, dynamic economy.

Accidental entrepreneurs

Many people dream of starting their own business, but many Americans are now doing it out of necessity given the realities of the high unemployment rate.

Call them accidental entrepreneurs, unintended entrepreneurs or forced entrepreneurs. A year and a half into the Great Recession, with the jobless rate hovering near double digits, corporate refugees like Lisa Marie Grillos of San Francisco are trying to fend for themselves.

Along with her brother Hernan Barangan, Mrs. Grillos started Hambone Designs, after her full-time contract position with Williams-Sonoma as a production manager wasn’t renewed in January. The new company makes bicycle bags that hold things like keys, wallets and cellphones.

“You have the time — why not focus your energy on something, rather than just trolling Craigslist and sitting and watching TV?” Mrs. Grillos says. “It’s really taking matters in my own hands.”

The Times article goes on to describe this trend further, and cites data from LegalZoom.com regarding a 10% increase in new businesses formed using its service in the first half of 2009, which surprised the company’s executives.

In many ways, a recession offers an ideal time to start a business. Many costs are lower, from rent to staff.

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