Wednesday 2 June 2010

The soul of business

I was having a discussion with a writer the other day, about the difference between an entrepreneur and a businessman. There is a difference, and while I have always walked an entrepreneurial path I am not a strong business person.

I think a businessman understands and grasps “the numbers” well. An entrepreneur may be good at creating, selling and marketing, but often may have someone else to complement him/her when it comes to the numbers.

The most important point is that an entrepreneur is about taking personal risk, and it is about an intensity and a drive that is focused like a laser. A businessman, on the other hand, in my view, is more about the pay-cheque.

Do you remember that scene in Jerry Maguire where Jerry (Tom Cruise) says to Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding) that he was a pay-cheque player – Jerry says to Rod “Play from the heart, and then you will get your big contract.”

I think an entrepreneur is motivated by something way beyond money, and the irony, if they do it right, the money can be quite an extraordinary result. The inspired entrepreneurs of the past 100 years, who went on to build massive companies, and brands that are admired, with fortunes that were accumulated, were a result of a labour of love. I think a businessman, in my view again, is not in it for love, but rather for money, not to say that either is right or wrong, and not to judge either but they are very different motivations. Yes, they both may arrive at a common end result, namely, an accumulation of wealth, but in the case of the obsessed, slightly cursed and tortured, entrepreneur, who kills himself in pursuit of the truth, the money earned is often only realized 20 or 30 or 40 years later, and, in my view, is way sweeter, than winning the lottery, or in getting, I mean, taking, a big cheque, to run a large corporation.

Think of these big fat-cats, who take so much money and retrench hard-working people at the same time. An entrepreneur can’t stand the word retrenchment – they are all about creating: magic, smiles, jobs, customers, and of course, legacy.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker