To start a business and bring it to fruition requires many skills. Creativity, perseverance, flexibility, determination. A bright smile and some thick skin. And more. But the prime concern of entrepreneurship is the essence of what drives them, the inertia or impetus that moves them forward.
While all businesses have the same basic function of providing a service or product to produce a return, not all can be classified the same. I see three main categories of businesses, a hierarchy of types. This is business taxonomy based upon the quality of the motivating force or purpose behind the business.
First, we have the Provider. What does a provider do? Pretty simply, he or she provides a needed product or service to people with demands for that product or service. Gasoline, food, pencils, diapers. Straight spines, clean carpets, leak-free pipes, life on the beach. Fill in the blank. Any product and any service has a “provider” that brings it to life and puts it on the market for the consumer.
Most people venturing into the world of entrepreneurship are looking to be a provider. This is because this class of business is the most basic, as it requires only the recognition of a need or want and the means to fill that need or want. One must understand the need, the market in which the need is met, and how to produce the product or service that satisfies the need.
Need/want + product/service + provider = business
The second rung up the entrepreneurship ladder is the innovator. This is the person or company who does more than provide; they are tasked with the goal of changing or adding to the existing product or service to make it better. These individuals have a driving force in them to improve upon the status quo. It is the quality of what drives them that gives them the title of “innovator”.
The word innovate comes from the Latin innovat meaning “renew”. Since everything in the world could use some renewal, we can rest assured there is a wide open field of products and services waiting for innovation. But innovation requires innovators, and innovators are not common.
Innovation demands effort and time, and a lot of it. Effort is limitless but rarely employed. Time is limited but exhausted needlessly.
Applying effort requires the willingness to suffer boredom, weariness, and criticism. These undesirable traits of “effort” keep most people from spending time with him; in fact, he’s avoided on a daily basis by most entrepreneurs, from new hires all the way to company owners.
Time also has some not-so-sexy traits. For one, it is always, always, ALWAYS in short supply. There is never enough time, but the reason there is never enough IS NOT because time flies or passes quickly, as many people believe. Time is in short supply because the supply we all have is wasted upon meaningless occupations. If more people took inventory of the daily use of their time, they would see how much is being thrown away. Ah, but taking that inventory takes time too…
We can see why innovators are in the minority, in a major way. But even beyond the innovators, there is still one other class of entrepreneurship that stands far above all the rest. Who are they?
Inventors think. Inventors create. Inventors produce.
And inventors are extremely rare.
Why? Why would one of the most meaningful, productive occupations in the entire world be so avoided? Is it because only genii or highly talented people can invent? Not at all. The reason inventors are about as common as solar eclipses is because inventing must be done to perfection or it isn’t done at all. And perfection demands perseverance, and perseverance is about as common as inventors.
Perhaps you see the circle here.
If you want to know a few things about inventing, read the story of one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, Thomas Edison. He lived the inventors life, and no, it wasn’t glamorous. It was sweat and blood and tears. And personal loss. Of course, over time his efforts rewarded him greatly, but it sure didn’t start that way. Thomas Edison stands as a testament to the caliber of a man who invented inventions because of what was inside him: a passion to create solutions for problems instead of just wishing things could be better.
Dozens of people have told me they thought of an invention, a way of doing something better, or a new product that would fix problems. Most of these got the inspiration sometime in the quiet hours of the night, as they lay in bed, drifting to sleep. Truth is, LOTS OF PEOPLE have moments of genius or creative leaps where they discover something new. But the vast majority of twighlight inventors stop right there… at the dream or the thought. There is no action to follow.
What would this world be like if .001% of the potential inventors acted on their ideas?
I believe the single greatest skill of anyone on the earth is the ability to create. It is an ability given to humankind only; no creature in the world has the capacity to create anything…except humans. It stands to reason since we are ourselves created by God in the likeness of Himself, in that we have emotions, will, reason, and the sense of right and wrong. What ability could better identify us?
As writers, we create. As artists, we create. And as inventors…we create.
The consensus is this: to be an inventor, which is the premier summit of all entrepreneurship, requires three prime qualities which cannot be changed or replaced.
And these will be the subject of our upcoming next post….