You probably associate the word "entrepreneur" with passion: passion for building new software, for creating alternative energy sources, or for making gluten-free pizza. It's an association that makes plenty of sense -- people should have a real interest in the service their company provides.
However, an entrepreneur's true passion doesn't need to be for that specific service. In fact, a successful entrepreneur rarely does the tasks performed by his employees -- building apps, designing solar panels, kneading pizza dough, you get the idea. Instead, he focuses on managing his company and envisioning its future. An entrepreneur with potential is one who is passionate about creating a business that can exist without him.
The Three Components of Potential
In order to create scalable companies that could feasibly continue in their absence, rookie entrepreneurs should have a knack for three major elements of business leadership: technical, visionary, and managerial.
Being talented in the technical element of business doesn't necessarily mean you should be able to construct a working version of your product by hand. Rather, you need to thoroughly understand what exactly goes into the technical processes and procedures of your company's service, at least on an abstract level.
Take the sillier, but no less profitable gluten-free pizza example. You don't need to be a chef to get into this industry, nor do you need a gluten allergy. But you do need to understand what your product is and how it's made, or else you won't be able to target the appropriate demographic, communicate effectively with your employees, or accurately predict the future of the market for this kind of food.
This ability to see down the road is key -- it's where the visionary component of entrepreneurship comes into play. The best entrepreneurs focus their attention on the future. They are concerned with where their company will or should be in three years and not necessarily with the current state of the business, which should be the priority of their employees.
The skills involved in hiring, organizing, and communicating with your employees are all aspects of the managerial element. To start a company from the ground up, you simply need to possess a knack for effective leadership.
Alternate Your Strengths
It may seem impossible to actively demonstrate your mastery of all three of these elements at all times. The good news is that you don't have to -- two at a time is good enough.
Think of the three components as muscles. You have a finite amount of energy to expend, so you can only afford to flex a couple at a time. In fact, you can deliberately weaken one of the muscles in order to give the other two more strength.
Take me, for instance. My biggest strong suits are managing Centric Digital and making plans for its future. In order to allow myself the time and energy to focus on those tasks, I've given myself more distance from the technical side of the business. Once we grew Centric Digital to 20 people, I trusted my employees with many of the technical tasks and shifted my priorities elsewhere.
The Beauty of Partnership
We all have strengths and weaknesses, and you may not naturally possess all of the skills necessary to be a great entrepreneur, but you can compensate for your weaknesses by finding a partner who has a complementary skill set. Effective collaboration and communication between business partners separates the great leaders from the good ones.
Maybe you're passionate about software engineering or predicting how a new app might do in the software market, but feel queasy at the thought of telling others what to do. You might benefit from teaming up with someone who has top-notch management skills, rather than letting that component of the business go ignored.
Getting a partner isn't a sign of weakness or a cry for help -- it's a sign of business savvy and self-knowledge. No one can do everything at once, and holding yourself to such a standard could hurt rather than help your company.
An entrepreneur has potential if he has technical, visionary, and/or managerial skills, along with the courage to seek assistance and compensate for those skills he doesn't have. A person has great potential if he can balance these elements well enough to cultivate a business that can exist without them.
No matter what industry they're in, great entrepreneurs strive to get their companies to mature to the point that they can let their staff run day-to-day activities, and keep their focus on what's coming next.