As you can probably imagine, I get a lot of people asking me “What exactly is a purposeful entrepreneur?”
I’m going to break it down, so it’s clearly defined here once and for all.
First, let’s start with entrepreneur.
What is an entrepreneur?
There are a lot of different types of entrepreneurs out there, but they’re all rooted in the core of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
The definition below doesn’t cover all the variations or dive deep into what it means to be an entrepreneur, however, it’s a good starting point to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Source: Cambridge Dictionary
Again, this is a good start, but I think the best definition comes from combining it with this one from Dictionary.com: “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”
One of the great things about entrepreneurship is that you don’t have to try to fit anybody’s definition and it looks a little different for each of us and that’s A-Okay.
What does purposeful mean?
Now don’t worry, I’m not going to get super deep and dive into what your purpose is here on Earth. That’s beyond the scope of this article.
It is important to have a purpose for your business. It should be the clearly defined reason for the existence of your business beyond making money, the products you make or the services you provide.
Here’s the definition of purposeful from the dictionary.
So when we put them together, purposeful entrepreneur, we get to the center of what this article is about.
What is a purposeful entrepreneur?
It’s taken me some time and thought to come up with a definition for this, and I hope it resonates with you.
Purposeful Entrepreneur: A person growing their business with a solid ‘why’, intentional action and clear direction.
Let’s take a moment to break this down.
A solid ‘why’
It’s not always possible to turn your passion into a why, but successful entrepreneurs use their ‘why’ to fuel their passion.
Check out this Simon Sinek video for a quick introduction to the importance of your ‘why.’
Purposeful entrepreneurs are abundantly passionate, and as Steve Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world.”
When you have your business rooted in a solid ‘why’ it will help weather the storms that come with business ownership.
Yup, it’s not all smooth sailing, sunshine, and rainbows.
Often entrepreneurs are stuck in reactive mode. They take action as issues or opportunities present themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying this means all such actions will be failures. The problem is that a lot of time, energy and effort is spent ping-ponging around rather than moving with deliberate steps.
In a frontiers in Psychology article, a study investigating intentional action found intentional actions were more strongly linked to positive outcomes.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that taking deliberate action can lead to positive results.
Back to our sailing analogy, if you get in a boat without the intention to drive or sail it (depending on your boat preference), you could end up anywhere or nowhere.
You could take a lot of different actions on the boat, like fishing off the side or diving off the deck for a swim.
Although those might be enjoyable, they are not going to move you forward. It’s the difference between doing anything versus the thing that will drive you toward your destination, like pulling up the anchor.
A clear sense of direction
Wait, what happens if we sail off without a destination, how will we know which way to go?
You see it, don’t you?
You could be stuck going in circles or end up on a rocky shore.
How do you prevent that?
Let’s be real here. You’ll never have everything mapped out and perfect weather predictions, but if you know where you want to go, it provides a guidepost and the direction needed to get there.
Why it’s essential to strive to be a purposeful entrepreneur
For your business, it could be the difference between life and death.
I know that may sound dramatic, but according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: about 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and about 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year.
Most of us have heard these stats and many budding entrepreneurs think, “That’ll never be me.”
They feel invincible with money in their bank accounts and high levels of enthusiasm. The problem is that neither of these will protect them from trouble, but it may make them miss the warning signs of danger ahead.
Purposeful entrepreneurs are mindful of the potholes that exist along the way, plus they are very aware of how precious time, energy and money are.
Does that mean purposeful entrepreneurs walk around waiting for the sky to fall? NO.
It does, however, give them the confidence to spot and solve problems.
They may get knocked off course temporarily, but they ultimately continue in the right direction.
Now, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not there yet. Most of us aren’t.
It’s something to shoot for and strive to be.
Remember, entrepreneurship is an evolution and growing a successful business is a journey.
Once you can push off with an intended destination, a map with a route and you know ‘why’ you’re heading out to sea, then:
- Figuring out which way to go becomes easy
- Recovering when the seas get rough isn’t as tough
- You’ll know when you’re heading in the right direction and when you’ve gone off course
- You’ll know when you’ve made your first successful voyage
Be gentle with yourself and try to enjoy the ride.
As Dr. Seus would say
“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”