Adam Melnick | Jul. 27, 2018

What Does an Entrepreneur REALLY Do?

There seems to be a great deal of confusion about what it means to be an entrepreneur.  Some argue that to be an entrepreneur you must launch a technology company anticipating rapid growth while taking on substantial personal financial risk.  Similarly, some economic development organizations only count new “technology” businesses when they report the number of startups in their communities. Often times, people associate disrupting an entire industry with entrepreneurship.  

These views, however, exclude a huge number of folks who self-identify as entrepreneurs and almost all of the new businesses created in Colorado and across the U.S. each year.  Try telling the owner of a rapidly growing ice cream brand, the woman who launched a digital marketing firm, or even the owner of the local pizza joint who exhausted his entire 401(k) launching the business that he or she is not an entrepreneur.

In our opinion, being an entrepreneur really boils down to two questions:  

  • Are you solving problems for other people?  
  • Are they paying you to do this?  

If the the answer to both of these questions is yes, then, congrats!  We think you’re an entrepreneur! Entrepreneurs are people who have identified a problem and come up with a solution that is better than how people are currently solving it.  So much better, in fact, that people are willing to pay for the new solution.

Interestingly enough, often times, the problem being solved isn’t obvious.  Let’s take 1-800-Got-Junk as an example. On the surface, you may think the problem 1-800-Got-Junk solves is hauling away junk that people don’t know what to do with, right? Well, yes, that is a problem the business solves. But what really separates the company from its competitors is the bigger problem the company solves.  Founder, Brian Scudamore, realized that people didn’t feel safe engaging with the available options out there. So Brian created a company that solved that problem.  He focused on a professional look with clean, shiny trucks; friendly, uniformed drivers; and transparent pricing. By digging deeper and finding the more meaningful problem, Brian helped people feel safe and taken care of. And that was a problem people were willing to pay him to solve!  

In the end, entrepreneurs are problem solvers who get paid.  Here at Colorado Lending Source we don’t think it matters what scale your solution involves, how quickly your business is growing, or how much risk you take in starting your business.  If you’re solving problems and getting paid to do it, we think you’re an entrepreneur!

If you’d like to continue the discussion, learn more about how to identify problems as opportunities, and develop the other pieces of  an entrepreneurial mindset, check out our Ice House Entrepreneur Development program.