Several years back, I asked my friend whether he's interested in doing business; he answered 'Who doesn’t?'. That answer caught me by surprise, even though I personally wanted to be an entrepreneur at that point. Now that I have been an entrepreneur, I can say what it really means to be an entrepreneur.
"Entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which is often initially a small business. The people who create these businesses are called entrepreneurs."
There could be several reasons for why one becomes an entrepreneur ranging from accidental to philosophical, I will say some of those I witnessed as an entrepreneur without being judgemental.
Thanks to capitalism, the richest people in the world have consistently been a successful entrepreneur. Wealth is either a motivation or byproduct of being a successful entrepreneur.
Since Business by definition means making money via trade, if it doesn't make money; it remains just a hobby. Wealth of ultra-high net worth individuals have been attributed to business activities, for the first time in human history; thanks to entrepreneurship, women's wealth has risen in this century in absolute terms and also relative to men's wealth.
Wealth doesn't necessarily mean getting into top 1%. It could be just to rise out of poverty, to raise others from poverty as well.
While there are entrepreneurs who make several thousand times the wage of their lowest paid employee, There are entrepreneurs who feel content by making just few thousand dollars more than their least paid employee. There are entrepreneurs who take pride in the average income paid to their employees being higher than the industry standard.
Personally, wealth hasn't been the primary motivator for me for being an entrepreneur; but I wish it was.
Freedom is an important benefit of entrepreneurship, for some it is the motivation to become an entrepreneur.
The freedom of choice, schedule, decision making, finance etc. is a worthy trade-off with the risks associated with the entrepreneurship for some. There are others, for whom their rebellious attitude makes them unfit to serve and so entrepreneurship is the only way to make a living.
Like wealth, fame is an inevitable byproduct of being a successful entrepreneur. Getting recognition as a successful entrepreneur is a motivating factor for many. But unlike wealth, being a famous is not linearly associated with being a successful entrepreneur.
And being want to be an entrepreneur is totally different from just wanting others to see us as an entrepreneur.
Fame is subjective, an actor from soap opera watched by millions in India is likely more famous than Elon Musk in India. In my opinion, fame can be attained fairly easily in the path of entrepreneurship; there is nothing wrong in wanting to be recognized as a successful entrepreneur but chasing after recognition can deter us from the mission of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Successful businesses are all about solving real world problems, building what people want is one of the ways to ensure we're on track for creating sustainable business. If solving problems interests us, then entrepreneurship provides us the opportunity to solve problems at large scale .
Generating sustainable revenue by solving problems at scale is at the essence of any successful startup. When I started my company, I wanted to build life style augmenting products. Each year I created a product which addressed some problem & helped me reach closer to my goal. So, yes solving problems at scale is one of the main reasons for me to become an entrepreneur; but I realised in the latter years of running my startup there is something larger driving me.
Running a business in today's competitive environment requires extreme persistence & grit . Just like in any sports race, not everyone can win every race; but it is essential to keep improving the skills, learning from the mistakes of earlier race and to keep participating in the race.
The race in entrepreneurship motivated me to be an entrepreneur, building products against all odds from a former village in India to compete directly with products from Silicon Valley was an exhilarating experience; which kept me going.
I can say for certain, that the most successful entrepreneurs have all been persistent & patient in what they were doing.
To conclude, I have repeatedly said successful entrepreneur, but haven't defined success; as it is subjective. But wealth, ability to make independent decisions, fame, affinity to solve problems at scale & being persistent in what they do are some of the common attributes of successful entrepreneurs.
December 2019 : Added Freedom. Thanks to Geetha Chakravarthy for bringing it to my attention.
December 2019 : Added wealth contention in entrepreneurs by keeping the difference between their lowest paid employee low.