From Fred Wilson’s great post “Ten Questions About Entrepreneurs” comes one that invites comment:
Are Entrepreneurs Happier Than Others?
Having founded 3 startups, I am generally a happy person. I am happiest when my day is entirely entrepreneurial: doing what entrepreneurs do best. I agree with Fred’s definition of what they do, BTW, which is turning ideas into businesses. The act of creation, in general, is something I really enjoy.
Inevitably, there are also days that are decidely not entrepreneurial. This happens more frequently as a company grows, although having been at Borland in the hey days, I can tell you a $500M a year company can still feel very entrepreneurial.
What is that feeling? Well, having said what it is that entrepreneurs do, the feeling is one of momentum on that trajectory.
Do you have momentum towards converting your organization’s ideas to businesses? Does your organization even think about creating new businesses, or are you mired in survival mode? Does your team think about creating new businesses, or are they more internally focused on some other issue?
Political infighting, expense cutting, post-acquisition transitions, these are all decidely non-entrepreneurial focuses. Sometimes they’re essential to the health of the business, but they’re anathema to the entrepreneurs. I’ve said for a long time that a large company’s ability to keep growing is a function of how well it cares for its entrepreneurs. After all, every product peaks. If you can’t start new businesses, how do you get beyond your plateau? You’d better either be able to nurture your entrepreneurs, or you’d better get good at the acquisition game.
Oracle, when I was there, was lousy at nurturing entrepreneurs. They, including me, couldn’t wait to move on. Google, OTOH, seems to have a remarkably entrepreneurial flair. It will be interesting to see if they have the management and organizational chops to take their herd of small businesses and get them to the next stage before the core plateaus.
As for me, I’m on the lookout for my next opportunity to translate ideas into businesses.
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