What is a great entrepreneur?
There are many rich entrepreneurs who have built crazy big businesses but that does not make them great.
A great entrepreneur, in my opinion, is someone that has the ability to innovate a financially successful business model around something that truly matters to them and the planet. That’s the magic and the future of business.
An example is Alasdair Harris. He won and award at from the Skoll World Forum for business, Blue Ventures, and was on the cover of Change Creator Magazine.
Harris was a scientist looking for a solution to overfishing and conservation in Madagascar. The locals livelihoods relied on fishing. He needed funding to test his conservation ideas and the locals thought his ideas were nuts. He reluctantly started the for-profit business Blue Ventures to create a sustainable revenue model that funded his mission. Now he has scaled his conservation efforts around the world.
But, why do I say great entrepreneurs are anything but normal?
Well, what is normal?
I find it odd that we live in world where everyone fights to be more normal because being normal gets us nowhere.
Normal is typically whatever a culture defines it to be.
In some cultures it’s normal to stack rings around your neck to stretch it out as much as you can.
In China it was normal to bind women’s feet so they don’t grow.
And today, it’s normal around the world to build a business for the sole purpose of profit at any cost.
Normal Behavior is For Mundane People
Doing what everyone else does is normal. But you can’t do what everyone else does and expect different results and definitely not greatness.
You’re told to color inside the lines but a great entrepreneur sees no lines or they see them and just don’t care.
They explore by pushing new boundaries. That’s how the next big disruption is discovered.
The daily routine of someone training for the Olympics and not something most could ever even bare for a few days. It’s not normal but it’s necessary to achieve something great. They think different and they act different.
Mallika Dutt was the founder of Breakthrough and I love her story because she had the courage of a lion and was like David standing up to Goliath.
Her big mission was to change how people thought about and treated women in India. Her solution was to create a pop culture music video with a message so it would reach the masses.
She was actually able to get Virgin Records on board to help with the video but they told her that nobody wanted to hear a song about abuse of women. They said it would fail so they would not pay for the development of the video, unless she changed it. She stuck to her guns and found another way to fund the video.
The music video was a great success and hit the top 10 charts in India. She also won an award for social entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation.
You have to be OK with being called crazy and you have to believe in ideas even when others don’t.
How about Maggie Doyne? After high school she woke up one day and decided to skip the whole college thing. She flew to Nepal and became passionate about orphan care.
She decided to take all her babysitting money she saved over the years and buy a small piece of land so she could pursue her dream of creating her own children’s home and orphanage.
Maggie Doyne went from a teenager with a backpack to building a successful foundation and beacon of hope for the children and women of Kopila Valley.
Normal Business is Bad Business
Every year a company must make more money to beat the previous year’s numbers. That means to sell more stuff which means to use more resources.
If I was Poland Springs that would mean taking more water from communities to package it up in more plastic bottles that fill our oceans and never go away. Ok maybe I hate plastic water bottles, they are the devil, but that’s me.
When the focus is to make as much profit as possible that’s when business practices go sour because it drives bad decision making which neglects people and planet.
A great example is, planned obsolescence – when a company basically makes crap with limitations so it breaks down or needs to be replaced regularly. This keeps people buying. Yeah, it’s a real thing.
Maybe you have kids and found that small pieces of toys tend to fall apart rather quickly and you have to buy more stuff.
Or you noticed that something breaks just after the warranty expires. Oops, that wasn’t on purpose, or was it?
Consider smartphones. Often discarded after a mere couple years’ use, their screens or buttons break, batteries die, or their operating systems, apps, and so on can suddenly no longer be upgraded. But a solution is always nearby: brand new models, pumped out every year or so, and touted as “the best ever”.
Can we make things last, yes, if we want to.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just that corporations are being devious and greedy. There’s a consumer culture at hand too that makes the demands. We want cheaper, new and more. Of course, that culture was bread by corporations. You’ve never been manipulated though, right (devious laugh now)?
Yes, there is argument about jobs and economy but none of that matters when the planet we rely on is going to shit.
So while people do get more of the things they want we have to look at what the true cost is of our normal approach business is.
Being normal is relative and will only give you normal results. Don’t let others dictate your path and determine your destiny because progress counts on you breaking the norm.
Doing what is normal will just keep giving us the same results.
Changing the world to create a brighter future requires new radical people and ideas that push the boundaries.
So please, let your weird crazy side go wild and rebel against the norm.