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Hitesh Porwal

Certified Executive Coach

15 February2020

Has the time come for businessmen to embrace entrepreneurial traits and become ‘Bizpreneurs’?

 

Many have tried to articulate their opinions on entrepreneurship but few have nailed it like these two gentlemen:

Ace investor George Franklin Glider says, “Entrepreneurship is making the world forever new, it is about taking aggressive actions.” Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian economist, had once said, “Entrepreneurs disrupt the old order and create new ones.”

While in the long run, an entrepreneur can become a businessman; the question is if the time has come when all businessmen have to embrace few traits of an entrepreneur to thrive and excel.

Let’s first understand the differences between a businessman and an entrepreneur? It is an important distinction for all business coaching clients who aspire to add a new business line or grow their business.

 

Scratching the surface

While a businessman’s primary focus is on driving profits and sales using established principles of business, an entrepreneur’s primary focus is on solving customers’ problems in a novel way, often using innovative business models.

In that sense, a businessman is a market player who walks along a defined line. On the other hand, an entrepreneur is a market leader who is passionate about working on a gap that has been plaguing his customers’ lives. In essence, he charts out an original path for himself.

 

The typical businessman

Bracketing a few businessman-specific characteristics is a challenging job. However, there are a few cornerstone features that businessmen tend to share. A businessman believes:

  • There are no secrets left to explore
  • Profit-making is the be-all and end-all
  • In using existing business models
  • In a copybook approach and are calculative by nature
  • In incremental-ism
  • In ‘Ready, Aim, Fire’ (he will enter a market based on a highly successful existing business idea and a definite market demand, and take actions only with known, available resources)

 

The entrepreneur mindset

An entrepreneur is not an individual; it is a collective mindset. A person with that mindset:

  • Believes there are secrets waiting to be explored
  • Considers problem-solving to be the driving objective
  • Disrupts existing ideas and creates new business models
  • Thinks outside the box and is intuitive by nature
  • Tries to cut the clutter of old ideas and concepts; approaches with a ‘breakthrough’ mindset
  • Believes in ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’ (he wants to get into the game and innovate, all with minimal resources, time and an unknown market demand; the sooner he acts, the faster he gets data to guide future efforts)

 

Businessman vs. Entrepreneur: Key differences

When we dig deeper, the contrast between these two tribes is stark. Here are four crucial factors that separate them:

 

  1. Reason to start a business

Arguably, this is the most critical differentiator between the two houses. A businessman will spot an existing opportunity that has thrived in the market, and build a business centred on it. On the other hand, an entrepreneur will create a new business out of a novel idea to seal the utility gap in his customers’ lives.

Let’s take an example. You believe that there lies a scope for making hefty profits in the sugar industry. As a businessman, you will learn the ropes and get into farming, wholesale-trading, exporting, importing, and the likes; and create a space for yourself over time.

On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur, you will probably think about rearing bees to produce honey, and then spend money on marketing the health benefits of honey, positioning it as an ‘organic’ alternative to sugar.

Simply said, a businessman is generally a market player as he invests in a defined market. An entrepreneur is a market leader; he initiates the business idea and goes on to build a market around it.

 

  1. Level of competition

For a businessman, the level of competition will be more vis-à-vis his entrepreneur counterpart. That’s because the product being an already existing one, other businessmen can spot its market as well.

Defined and known demand = High competition, and this is what makes separating a business from the crowd challenging. However, a defined demand also means a good potential, considering the businessman can market his offering effectively.

(That is also why we find multiple businessmen trying to cater to the ‘known’ demand and complaining about cut-throat competition).

Conversely, you’ll never find an entrepreneur complaining about competition. An entrepreneur is likely to face minimum resistance as his business model is usually oven-fresh, and does not have to compete for market share. Even if the product goes on to capture his customers’ mind space and other businesses follow suit, the entrepreneur would always be the pioneer and stay ahead of the game.

But there’s a flipside to it as well. The entrepreneur does not have a defined market, for his product is not established. Hence, he will have to introduce the product first and follow it up by assessing its demand. For an entrepreneur, his next move is never premeditated. Don’t confuse it with being a ‘shot-in-the-dark’ approach; instead, it is a calculated chance that he takes (Fire, Ready, Aim).

 

  1. Conventional vs. calculated intuitiveness

A businessman is more likely to apply traditional methods while marketing his products in an established industry. He is comfortable being part of the crowd, so chances are he will make the best use of existing trends to avoid pitfalls.

On the other side of the ring is the entrepreneur faced with an unknown market, undefined demand and unclear business strategies. He cannot afford to be conventional or reactive to changes; he has to be proactive and intuitive in the way he develops strategies and a market for his product.

 

  1. Risk appetite

This is the most misunderstood difference between the two houses.

You may think that just because an entrepreneur is likely to face little resistance initially; the risk would be relatively less. Conversely, you may think that since entrepreneurs try to create a new market, it is a fifty-fifty game and hence the risk would be super high.

 

“Entrepreneurs don’t believe they’re in chaos; others may think so, but they don’t.”

 

The truth lies somewhere in between. An entrepreneur is a risk taker, but only from the perspective of those who are watching him. In his own head, he has clarity of thought and actions. He also sees the light at the end of the tunnel, just like any businessman would.

On the other hand, if you are a businessman and playing too safe, sooner or later, you’d end up only surviving. However, if you want to thrive, flourish and make an impact, you will have to hone the entrepreneurial mindset – take risks, innovate, and think ahead of the graph.

 

“In business, familiarity doesn’t guarantee success; neither operating in unchartered waters always means high risk.”

 

If you are happy surviving, business may be the right option for you.

 

Businessman vs. Entrepreneur: A round up

Basis

Businessman

Entrepreneur

Who is he?

He sets up a business based on an existing idea

He is the trailblazer; tries to build a market around a new idea

What is he?

Market player

Market leader

How is he?

Calculative and conventional; prefers to play by the book

Disruptive and intuitive

Approach to business and market

Creates his niche in an existing market

Creates a new market, often by inducing a need for the product

Stomach for risks

Comparatively less

Comparatively high

Level of competition

Very high

Relatively low

Principal objective

Build a business and earn profit

Cut the clutter, address a need and solve customers’ pain points

Orientation

Profit-oriented

Problem-oriented

 

To sum it up

In a world that’s increasingly moving towards automation, the best thing to do is imbibe both skills as jobs are expected to stagnate, if not dry up in the near future.

While a businessman is risk-averse and focuses on what currently works, an entrepreneur is an innovator, organiser, risk-taker and manager -- all rolled into one. And a strong balance between the two is where the magic happens.

 

Mind this

Both are equally rewarding. Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, Mukesh Ambani are seasoned businessmen who have redefined success, time and again. On the other hand, you have Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg; ace entrepreneurs who have exemplified innovation and orchestrated a seismic shift in the world.

Both the clans are unique. So don’t get swayed by the flavour of the day (read start-up and entrepreneurs); instead, deep dive into your mindset and accordingly take a call.

 

Most importantly

From the looks of it, the current education system seems designed to churn out more employees and businessmen than entrepreneurs. But no matter the tribe you belong to, success will be driven by your ability to imbibe some traits of entrepreneurship.

Today, an increasing number of smart companies are looking to hire employees who can tell the company what to do and steer it out of a tight spot. Likewise, a lot more businessmen today are complaining and their businesses wobbling from the massive weight of competition, only because they haven’t imbibed the entrepreneurial mindset yet. Time has come for all businessmen to become ‘Bizpreneurs’.

All in all, to taste sweet success, you have to be self-aware. And know when and how to take that calculated risk that would catapult you to the next orbit.