running businessman

The Road in Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs Eventually Transform to Businessmen

Few weeks back I was looking at the Collins- World English Dictionary and I just chose to look for 2 simple words, Entrepreneur and Businessman. The definition provided was:

EntrepreneurThe owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits.

BusinessmanA person, esp a man, engaged in commercial or industrial business, esp as an owner or executive.

Look carefully and you will find the real difference. For Entrepreneur it is “attempts to make profits”, while in Businessman, “Profit making” is implicit.

This simple difference made me conscious of the fact, why we have hundreds of failed entrepreneurs now-a-days and more of businessman controlling and winning. Look around, and we see daring people attempting to do something new or making something better of existing. But in this passion they are all missing the core ingredient of a successful “enterprise”, i.e. profit. Talk to any wise old man about your enterprise, and he will ask you a simple question, how much money you make! Why?

Today, we see a frenzy of funding and the idea of selling off a company before it is started. No entrepreneur talks about revenues or profit, they just talk about funding. The continuous glorification of the same by media is killing the whole idea of an enterprise culture.

What we need – and we need it desperately – is to shun the word “Entrepreneur”, and embrace the word “Businessman”. All current and wannabe entrepreneurs need to start thinking of being a “Businessman”, and mind it – the word “Businessman” is not offensive or derogatory but celestial.

Once you are a Businessman, your whole perception of things change. You will think of basic economics – the difference between “Want” and “Need”. Your focus will shift to the Need and not the Want.  And then you will be able to price the Need viz-a-viz your short term and long term operating cost to make money that will fuel your enterprise growth. “Cash is King”- the saying goes, and since you cannot print it and no one will give it for free, you will have to earn it.

Entrepreneurs are bad at making money, until they evolve into Businessman. See around yourself, products and services that have survived the onslaught of time are those which are making money on continuous basis for the enterprises, as they are catering to an existing Need in the market. You and I are paying for them. So why not think the same? Why not create or provide which someone is willing to pay for? Count the exception out. Think of exceptions as a nature’s gift to infinitesimal lucky few.

What you see as Google and Facebook is this evolution from simple idea to a business, and same reason for the demise of Yahoo and other services. They are not satisfying your want, but selling you Need, to either find something or to get social acceptance among friends and family, and you are paying for it by your complete life action and information, which they are forward selling. Apple was selling great computers before 2000, but the Need was for basic computers from Microsoft or to say Microsoft created the whole ecosystem to generate that Need, similar to what Apple did with consumer devices for music and communication. Blackberry’s Need is diminishing and we see the result.  These are simple visible examples, and you will find hundreds of similar stories across every corner of the world.

In the long run, businessman outruns anyone with just an idea. Your venture capitalist is a Businessman, your bank is a Businessman and your customer is a Businessman including your mother and wife. So you need to think and act like them. Innovate, create products and services that someone somewhere is ready to pay for; calculate your cost, mark you breakeven and profitability timeline, aim and make a run for it.

If you are an entrepreneur the faster you evolve into Businessman, the survival and success probability increases. If you want to be entrepreneur, rethink, be a Businessman.