Journeying through entrepreneurism 3: The three aces


What we are looking for is the internal driver, a force that continuously generates that great discomfort and the energy to create something out of nothing.  This force is the primal force that drives the entrepreneur, the force that continuously attacks the subconscious, life is bland and without any achievement until this force is unleashed into action.  And once that is set free, the entrepreneur is no doer, he is simply a puppet driven by something far more powerful; and many times he cannot fully comprehend but only feel it.

The motivation behind going into start-up mode varies widely and let me list the most frequent ‘motivations’ that I have come across – make money quickly to enjoy the good things, to be seen as a winner by the world, to retire and play golf peacefully, to get out of their dreary life, build a better or more satisfying work environment, to change the world, and so on. But for me all of this is of little importance.   Motivation is different from the ‘force within’.  Motivation provides the incentive, it deals with the fruit of your entrepreneurial labour that Lord Krishna told us not to worry about.  But the force that I am talking about surpasses all motivations.

Simply because this force is so powerful, great mistakes have been made by those who got carried away without fully thinking through the ramifications of their entrepreneurial actions.  And so both the good and bad of entrepreneurism comes from this same force that we typically don’t, but would do well to, understand.  The field of entrepreneurism is littered with business failures, destroyed families, suicide victims, broken relationships, bitter ex-friends, disgruntled employees, hated benefactors, and accusations of theft, court cases, and all in all massive amounts of negativity.

I recall meeting a garment exporters son, who needed to be a winner and he needed to prove it to his father.  He used the words, ‘I want my father to be proud of me’ as his primary motivation! And sadly he chose entrepreneurship as the tool for showing it.  As is obvious, he was not driven by the thought of creating value, but showing off his ability to create value.  In the end, many losses were incurred, books were fudged, loans had to be paid off, and father and son had a serious falling out – the complete opposite of what the son’s objective was.

Understanding your own driving force will help not only deal with yourself but others as well.  Those who get this will not only save themselves a lot of trouble later but also be more likely to enjoy their business success and even failure!

We all love success, fear failure and need excitement with different intensities.  Some of us instinctively gravitate towards decisions where excitement levels are higher; I call this set the gamblers or Mavericks.  On the other hand those who are mortally scared of failure, this type will go to all kinds of lengths to avoid failure but otherwise take decisions that are safer. These are the Sentinels, whose instinct is to guard against regret.  And finally there are classic Hero archetypes whose need to be successful is driven by a criteria of their own chosing.

I can allocate all entrepreneurs I have met into one of these three categories – of course you can make many subcategories and there always are variations of intensity and flavor.  But there are only three primal forces that together and individually drive all entrepreneurs.  And yes, a single entrepreneur may appear to have elements of all three, but there will be one which will be much stronger than the rest.  Moreover, success in business can be achieved by any, and none is better or worse than the other.  Finally, the likelihood of success is not driven by the type of entrepreneur, but whether the other factors are in sync with the primal force driving the entrepreneur.

To repeat, whether it is the Hero or the Sentinel or the Maverick, there are enough successful examples of all kinds of entrepreneurs.  But wherever there is business success we would see other empowered personalities in the team who are in sync with the entrepreneur’s instincts and fill in the missing gaps.  Perhaps this happens by design, or perhaps by providence, but when it happens you will feel the energy when you enter the workspace.

An old colleague once told me many years after he had left my start-up, “Laveesh you must change your team every three years”.  My take is a bit different, if a start-up does not have energy and excitement after a two or three of years, the entrepreneur must remove himself if he cannot remove the key team members!  And if he cannot do either, best to close the business.  Teams that have energy, always have a good combination the hero, the sentinel and the maverick.  Love of success provides the focus, whereas the gamblers instinct provides the fun and energy, and the fear of failure keeps everything in check.  The entrepreneur can be any of these predominant types, but would be served well if she ensures the presence of other traits around her.

Of course all of this is pointless if the entrepreneur and the team are weak at implementation.  But that we shall save for later, first we will look into each of these three archetypes – the hero and the love of success, the sentinel and the fear of failure and the maverick and the need for excitement.


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