There's a commonly held belief that one becomes an entrepreneur by going into business, or going out on one's own.
I don't subscribe to that belief.
In fact, not only don't I subscribe to that belief, but I hold strongly to the opposing belief--with overwhelming evidence to support my position--that to go into business, or out on one's own, in the belief that by so doing you'll be an entrepreneur will result in tragic consequences of the greatest magnitude. In short, it's a very, very bad idea!
So then what exactly is an entrepreneur? Let me share my view with you, and then let me give you three exercises to do to help awaken the entrepreneur within you.
An entrepreneur is not a person, but a personality, the personality living inside of each and every person on the face of the earth, the personality who dreams. The entrepreneur inside of you, of me, of your friends, of your relatives of every shape, size and dimension, no matter what they do for a living, no matter how bold or how shy, no matter where they live or what their education may or may not be, the entrepreneur in each and every human being is the dreamer who sees life as it could be, not as it is. It's the dreamer who sees mountains where only flat land exists; who sees great buildings and cities and countries arising with enormous energy where no buildings or cities or countries live as of yet; who sees the sweet juice of opportunity around every corner, in every nook, cranny and claptrap yard, in every square or rounded inch of misery. To the entrepreneurial personality living in each and every human being, there is a life larger than life, a beauty larger than beauty, a promise larger than any promise could hope to be. The entrepreneur in each and every one of us is the inventor, the creator, a lunatic of the most profound dimensions, the inconsolable pursuer of the impossible who sees visions where others only see work.
The entrepreneur in you and in me is holy, truly holy, and not to be believed.
Which means that Walt Disney knew who his entrepreneur was, as did Sam Walton and Ray Kroc, as did Steve Jobs and Debby Fields, and yes, even as strange as it might seem to you, as did Einstein and Chopin and Rumi and every "imagineer" who ever dared climb a mountain that wasn't there, reach the summit, and hold up his hands and head and scream to those who didn't see him or her--or even the mountain--until they came into view, "I'm here!" And there was no "here" until they said it. And there was no "there" until all the others saw it. And there was no summit until they created it. And that's what the magic of your entrepreneurial soul does when you invite him or her to go climbing.
The First Exercise
Stop thinking about what you want to do. Stop doing what you're doing. Go to a place, any place will do, where activity ceases, where there is no itinerary, no schedule, no agenda, no responsibility, no work of any kind, no expectation, no result you've set for yourself, no goals, no objectives, no action plans whatsoever. Go to such a place to empty your mind.
And that's the first exercise to awaken the entrepreneur in you: to empty your mind. To dream and to create, there needs to be both space and energy. The entrepreneur in us wants to play with the idea of things, without constraint. To write without purpose, to imagine without an end game, to live fully and completely in the moment of his or her experience, now. Not in the past nor in the future, but now.
To prepare yourself for this exercise, try sitting down where you are, closing the door, telling everyone who might bother you to give you ten minutes without a disturbance of any kind. Unplug the phone, turn off your computer, sit down, face a wall, close your eyes, place your hands in your lap, breath deeply and just stay there, just like that. You'll see immediately what I mean, and why that's important.
You must do this first exercise every single day!
The Second Exercise
Get a blank piece of paper. You have nothing in mind. Sit with the blank piece of paper, and let whatever comes to mind go to the paper. Whether it be a sentence, or just three seemingly unrelated words. Whether it be an entire paragraph, a thought, a concern, a conclusion, let it write itself down. The key here is to let "It" speak. To let "It" say what "It" wants to say. To let "It" have the room to breath.
My saxophone teacher once said to me many years ago, "Michael, you don't make music; music finds you." You need to let "It" play its music. That's what the entrepreneur in you wants more than anything: to play "Its" music.
You'll be amazed what appears on the blank piece of paper as you do this second exercise.
Do it for only 10 minutes. Do it once a day. And save those pieces of paper, with the date on the top right hand corner. Save them in a box, or a file folder, and know that that box or file folder is a sacred place. Because your dreamer has created it. Your entrepreneur has become vulnerable. Your creator has expressed himself or herself, and you've been a witness to it.
The Third Exercise
Maintaining an entrepreneurial journal is a daily process, and I highly recommend it. Buy yourself a journal, preferably with leather covers, a rich-looking journal, a journal that impresses you because it looks so rich, so permanent, so significant. Write in that journal what you learned that day. Write in that journal what you felt that day. Write in that journal anything that came to mind that day, as you sat with a blank piece of paper, as you sat in your chair facing the wall for ten minutes with absolutely no interruption at all, as you felt your feelings come up, your feelings of being blocked, your feelings of being ashamed, your feelings of excitement, your feelings of despair...whatever came up that day, record it, even though you may not think you're an accomplished writer--or even if you think you are. Your entrepreneurial journal is not about the writing; it's about the recording. This is your life, someone once said. This is your life, and if you don't take it seriously, who will? This is your third exercise, and it will feed your first exercise and your second exercise, and you will know it.
Believe me, you will know it.
Write me and tell me what you find out.
Michael Gerber is the "Leadership" coach at Entrepreneur.com and is the author of the mega-bestseller, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It. He is also an entrepreneur himself, having spent the past three decades building his coaching company, E-Myth Worldwide, around the idea of empowering business owners to gain more freedom, more money, more time and more life.