Over the past 30 years, the meaning of the word entrepreneur has undergone multiple transformations, including a Dark Age (mail-order bride franchise, anyone?) and a renaissance (the Branson-assic Period). Right now, we are in the latter stages of what I like to call the Musk-azoic Era.
This evolution brings to mind an essential question: Do you choose entrepreneurship, or does it choose you? It's a topic we toss around frequently.
In my observation, those born into the discipline share several traits. They see things others do not and therefore innovate in ways others cannot imagine. They create something where nothing existed before. They make petulant employees. Most don't color in the lines, and most are too impatient to wait out an MBA program. Add to that the ever-present thirst for risk-taking, and you've got yourself the genome map of a true entrepreneur.
Those hard-wired to be entrepreneurs are like musical prodigies. They wake up one day and start playing Mozart on the piano with no education or formal training. It just flows effortlessly and wordlessly and is as natural as breathing. It's as predetermined as eye color.
But for some, education--a foundation--is required. It is true you can learn the trade skills of an entrepreneur, just like you can learn to play the piano. Owning a business does not make one an entrepreneur--reimagining a market does. It's not a spreadsheet thing; it's a soul thing.
We can all agree there are several types of entrepreneurs: startup, serial, those who flip other people's companies and those who start nothing but buy companies and make them better. What they have in common is the need to lay the foundation for new ways of thinking.
On that note, we present our annual point/counterpoint on entrepreneurs: born or made? The arguments from both sides are compelling.
For those with the entrepreneur gene, understanding the delicate art of leadership eclipses an MBA--by a rather wide margin. When we set out to look at the most motivational CEOs in America, I was a bit hesitant. How can you measure motivation? It turns out you can: It's right there on the bottom line. In our feature on these business leaders, we take a look at why inspiration matters and how you can put it to work for the benefit of your employees and the future of your company.
These leaders, through thoughtful actions, are encouraging not only their own companies, but also the next generation of great entrepreneurs. Heed their words.
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy