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The Entrepreneur's Brain

Successful entrepreneurs are wired to see the world in a particular way. Are you seeing what they see?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Countless institutions, organizations, business pundits andmedia have posed the following questions: What makes anentrepreneur an entrepreneur? What traits and characteristics bestdescribe that unique person who successfully starts and grows abusiness enterprise?

There have been as many answers as there have been inquirers.Some say entrepreneurship cannot be taught. Some say it can. Somesay you're born with it; some say you acquire it. Some defineentrepreneurs as artists; others as scientists. Some seeentrepreneurs through a prism of words: passion, leadership, tunnelvision, clarity of mind, focused, disciplined, charismatic,creative, competitive. Some see entrepreneurs through a prism offeelings: possessed, obsessed, intense, consumed, rigid,insatiable, driven. Some describe entrepreneurs as obsessivecompulsives; others as control freaks. Some describe entrepreneursas insiders; others as outsiders. Some describe entrepreneurs asrisk takers; others as risk averse.

And yet, while all these words describe some entrepreneurs, theydon't describe all entrepreneurs-at least not those who arepreeminently successful.

It's my position that all successful entrepreneurs possessone fundamental ability, one fundamental quality, one fundamentalskill, one fundamental interest, without which they would never besuccessful: Entrepreneurs possess the ability to perceive the worldas a system. Without a doubt, every entrepreneur worth his or hersalt is a "systems thinker." They could not do what theydo without it.

What is a systems thinker? A systems thinker is one who intuitsand sees the whole of a thing, the entirety of it, the one-ness ofit, the integrated unity of it, as opposed to merely the sum of itsparts. A systems thinker:

  • Transcends the world in order to transform it.
  • Is an inventor as opposed to an engineer.
  • Sees purpose in everything, and sees the system as therealization of the purpose.
  • Sees meaning in everything and, if not, pursues everythinguntil the meaning becomes clear, until the system reveals itself inall its glory.
  • Is possessed by the meaning of things.

All great entrepreneurs are systems thinkers. Your businessisn't simply a group of people doing work. It is, or it shouldbe, a business system that's operated by people. The systems dothe work, and people operate the systems. Your business should besystems-dependent, not people-dependent. Systemic thinking will setyou free.

With no systems in place, your business depends on you and on afew people who run things for you. If you or they disappear, evenfor a short time, your business is thrown into chaos. But if youhave the right systems in place, the systems run your business, andnearly anyone can run the systems.

If you have the right systems in place, you can decide suddenlyto take a three-month vacation, and your business won't skip abeat. If you have the right systems in place, your key employeescould suddenly quit, and you could replace them easily with no illeffect on your business. If performance isn't up to snuff,rather than blame your people and argue with them, you simplyadjust the system. If problems and opportunities arise, you respondby creating new systems or adjusting existing systems. With theright systems in place, you can work every day in your business-ornot. It's your choice, because your system is what's reallyrunning your business.

Systemic thinking is second nature to successful entrepreneurs,and it's the real secret behind building a business that works.All who wish to become great entrepreneurs need to learn how tobecome a systems thinker. Or, more accurately, they need to developtheir innate passion for seeing things whole and transcending theworld. Their world. Our world. All worlds.


Michael Gerber is the founder and chairman of E-Myth Worldwide, wherehe invented a revolutionary small-business development systemthat's been proven in thousands of businesses across the globe.Since 1977, Gerber has been sharing his business success strategieswith millions of fans of his E-Myth books, audiotapes and programs.As a business-coaching pioneer and bestselling author, Gerber haschanged the face of small business by providing entrepreneurs withan innovative and stunningly clear understanding, capability andprocess to transform any small business into a world-classenterprise.

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