Entrepreneurship is really all about a Mindset

I’ve always considered myself resourceful and entrepreneurial even though I have always been an employee. I’ve always wondered about that? Why is that I don’t see the need to leave my day job to be an Entrepreneur? In reality this post is not about justifying my place in life, but the fact that what people consider as the traditional characteristics of an Entrepreneur is no longer relevant in today’s economy that has the Internet as a medium of information transfer.
Thinking carefully on this issue, I’ve realize that Entrepreneurship is really about a mindset more than anything else, and a successful entrepreneur is more about the definition of what success is. Honestly there is no difference between selling your company to Google for 100 Million and selling 100 pieces of your beautifully hand crafted mobile phone pouches.
Let us now consider my usual slightly deviant, “of the beaten path” view points on this matter.

1) Biggest Myth about Entrepreneurship
Along the same lines of this article, one of the biggest myths on entrepreneurship is that you have to give everything up (including your day job), work yourself to the ground, live on instant noodles, and almost by the seat of your tattered pants secure 5 Million in funding. After that you company makes a killing by it being sold for 50 or 500 Million.
Blame the media for blowing up such success stories. However just like investing, such high-risk, high hope strategies happens only one in a million. But at the rate the media is playing it up, it only seems that in order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to do it this way.
Utter nonsense.
On the other side of the bench, I have observed that many entrepreneurs make it big because of calculated risks, and more importantly creating multiple sources of income. Don’ t forget a day job or a par-time one IS a source of income. Most people consider this on too shallow of a level, and forget that the individual is the success, NOT the business that individual is working on.
I’m a firm believer on this concept. Having 10 sources of income that generates 5K a month regularly, is a much better deal than hoping your one source can generate 50K a month. Think about it? Which option has more risk?
2) Entrepreneurship is all about time allocation.
I hope you did not get the impression that I scoffed about the time and effort required to make a venture successful. In fact on the contrary there is a lot of work that still needs to be put in. The question is to ask yourself how much time you can realistically put in.
Consider this, if you consider your day job as a source of income, and the joys of a family as another source of “income”, you need to be realistic on the amount of free time you can allocate on a venture.
In fact many entrepreneurship ventures fail simply because the time put into it was not enough. One of the down sides of this “multiple sources of income” strategy is the fact you might wear too many hats and don’t have enough time doing anything or everything well.
On the upside multiple-sources means multiple projects, and for me this keeps my interests going as I jump about. Again that’s me, I get bored doing only one thing all the time. You on the other hand need to ask yourself if this strategy is right for you. So as they say “know thy self”.
3) Be entrepreneurial in everything you do
Practice. Being a successful entrepreneur requires practice. Put it this way, that 22 year old college drop out becoming a millionaire at first go is one in a million. Many successful entrepreneurs, go at it many times before that big success.
You can start right away, and if you are employed even better. Intrapreneurship or internal entrepreneurship is fast becoming a way to get rich. Many companies such as IBM and 3M have been successful because of this.
Furthermore there is nothing stopping you investing some of your hard-earned cash in your education, or small ventures like selling memory chips online. Today the Internet is the great equalizer with many great opportunities if you want to start small. Just do your research.
What about starting an entrepreneurial initiative to raise money for your child’s soccer uniforms? As you can see you can even be entrepreneurial in almost any aspect in your life, and it does not always have to be all about the money.

4) Entrepreneurial is about a mindset of opportunities

Continuing from my last point, being entrepreneurial is really about having a mindset that sees the world as a sea of opportunities. I cant emphasize this enough and this is the big difference between a successful and failed business venture or entrepreneur. You need to be able to see the opportunities, and train your mind to do so.
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Lets now look at how this is applied in my context. About 3 years ago, I realized that the Internet (after the dot com boom) is fast becoming, yet again, to be a huge business opportunity for those who know how. I therefore decided to “dive in head first” to learn as much as I can about the technology behind it. Furthermore it was also a perfect medium as I could work any where and any time (as long as there is Wi-Fi) as my personal circumstances requires such flexibility.
As an example, from that time I dived in, I have been an avid collector of domain names, I even manage to secure my own name as a dot com and to date I currently own about 30+ domain names. Not a lot, until I recently I read a CNN article on Kevin Ham, the man who owns the Internet. This article has spurred me on to buy even more domain names. However as Kevin probably owns almost every generic mass market name, my marketing training has taught me to look at niche markets instead. True enough many domain names in my industry as well as upcoming trends are still available as a dot coms. This is really all about seeing that there are opportunities abound, and such niche domains can be bought for as cheap as $USD 9 a year and can be resold for much much more.
edit: As a concerned reader aptly put Domain Squatting or Cyber Squatting is bad. For the record I’m not encouraging domain squatting here in this example and to clarify please take a look at our discussion here. What I’m really taking about is investing in domains, there is a subtle contextual difference.
Another example, of having an entrepreneurial mindset, is how I enjoy exploring and doing new things, except sky diving and bungee jumping! One of the things I love to do is starting up websites and blogs and making them successful. Don’t forget, again it is you that needs to define what it means to be successful. My definition is a damn good looking blog that people love to come visit. Not a lot of people know but I manage and run 5 different blogs, of which 3 are public and 2 are private. My recent 5th blog, which I set up in about 3 days, (about 20 times faster, not kidding, than Design Sojourn!) is called WiiGolf.net and it is all about my experiment about the idea that “small is the new big”. Do check it out and please leave me some of your comments?
As you can see entrepreneurship is all about a mind set, being well read, loving what you do, and enjoying new things. So I hope you are inspired as I was writing this post. So please keep in touch and do let me know of your own successes?

8 Comments
  • Paddy Tan

    June 18, 2007 at 12:53 pm Reply

    Well said!
    Too many times we couldnt cross pass our own fear that we have ourselves to blame only when the opportunities just slip passed like that.

  • Design Translator

    June 18, 2007 at 4:25 pm Reply

    Hi Paddy,
    I totally agree, we can be our own worst enemy! Thanks for visiting.

  • Jon

    June 19, 2007 at 4:30 am Reply

    Lovely, so you are a domain squatter.
    Sorry, amigo. But you just lost a significant amount of respect in my books. Domain squatting isn’t entrepreurial. Its opportunistic. The web is supposed to be an open exchange of information and being a blogger you obviously believe in this.
    By squatting on domains and driving up the price for someone who would otherwise be able to use that domain name for something beneficial is wrong.

  • Design Translator

    June 19, 2007 at 7:37 am Reply

    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for your comments. Heh-heh. Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions? What is domain squatting or cyber squatting? Well from wikipedia it is defined as:

    Cybersquatting, according to the United States federal law known as the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

    You got to be careful, domain squatting is essentially purchasing and sitting on madonna.com or microsotf.com and profiting from it.
    Apologies if my post had not been very clear, but if you do read my blog regularly you might guess that, I would have a lot more up my sleeve as well as I would never do any of the above.
    OK, firstly, my domain names are NOT trademarks of any companies, nor are they mis-spelled trademarks. Next, my domain names are part of my business strategy surrounding and protecting my own blog building strategies. They include .org/.net extensions of this and other of my blogs, and permanent keyword redirection to THIS blog, such as http://www.designentrepreneurship.com, which is a key topic and content of my blog. Finally I do have a few domain names that reflect consumer trends on topics that people may become interested in. These I will eventually turn into blogs such as I did with WiiGolf.net. Do note however even though my unused domain names are at this time at “domain parking” sites, I do not gain or generate any revenue from it.
    Though I do not totally approve of his actions the one thing I learnt from Kevin Ham is, for his “domain squatting” strategy to work, it requires domains with popular generic keywords that are heavily searched by the mass market and is impossible to accumulate now as we do not have his first mover advantage and his leverage. Therefore my strategy is contrary to his and is more focused on building value, of which at the end of the day the domain could be sold for a lot more. More information on this will make a great blog post for another day!
    I hope this does not detract from the topic of this discussion which is about “having a mindset of seeing a sea of opportunities”. Regardless domain names are like any business, skill or profession, it’s how you use it that is important whether good or bad. For example as you are a design consultant, will you take a job to design a weapon or a waste water recycling device? What if you are starving? Or As a banker would you finance an orphanage or a mining operation?
    I hope you see my point and please keep in touch?
    edit: reformatted sentence construction and spelling.

  • Jon

    June 20, 2007 at 11:56 am Reply

    I see where you are coming from. The sticking point is this comment of yours:

    Finally I do have a few domain names that reflect consumer trends on topics that people may become interested in.

    This is much different from:

    Therefore my strategy is contrary to his and is more focused on building value, of which at the end of the day the domain could be sold for a lot more. More information on this will make a great blog post for another day!

    In other words, you have mixed messages within your thought process above. Obtaining Domain Names, building a blog, or a business (of one form or another) is much different from purchasing Madonna.com, etc. Building and selling IP based on an IP is definitely entrepreneurial.
    I still, thoroughly, disagree with anyone on the net that purchases a domain, with the intention of trolling it for money. It should cost anyone that has legitimate use for a domain name no more than a handful of dollars.
    You other questions, with respect to morality in design, are moot. It will never come down to choosing between starving and designing a weapon or other product I am opposed to. In other words, I don’t do anything I don’t believe in.

  • Design Translator

    June 20, 2007 at 4:26 pm Reply

    I apologize and agree that the way I have written it can be mistaken. I suppose its one or the problems of the written form and that it tends to get taken very literally and at face value.
    Again this same issue rears it ugly head in our discussion about the morality of design, where my point was not to question your morals, but to highlight the fact anything can be used for good or for bad. I believe I wanted to use this example to highlight the fact buying domain names does not always equate to cyber-squatting.
    I’m also not sure I you realise that domain-squatters buy domain names post haste, that is when the traffic has already been establish based on demand for something or someone. So the fact I talk about “predicting consumer trends and domain niches” is already a contrary to to a domain squatting strategy.
    Once again thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it.

  • Bootstrap

    July 11, 2007 at 3:28 pm Reply

    Facts about entrepreneurship had been put well in words at this post. It is really all about mindset. Once you have thought all of the steps out and set your mind to it,everything else will surely follow.
    This is certainly a good read.

  • Design Translator

    July 11, 2007 at 3:44 pm Reply

    Hi Bootstrap,
    Thanks for your feedback and please keep in touch.

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