Do you think that Ray Kroc built McDonald's because he needed better dining options while traveling? Or that Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh because he wanted people to send him emails?

Of course not.

The Big Dream of any entrepreneur really has very little to do with the entrepreneur. If you truly love repairing automobiles, chances are, you'll be a lousy business owner. Likewise, if you are fascinated by debits and credits, the dream of building an accounting firm with you at the helm is probably best left unfulfilled.

And why is that?

Simple - as the title suggests, entrepreneurship is about somebody other than yourself. Owning a business very well could be all about you, but if a business is to reach the goals that all businesses should have - of growth, success, and ultimately, to provide the owner with one all-important customer - the customer who buys the business - then any business ventured into should not be about you, the owner, but about the customer.

True entrepreneurship has nothing to do with the person who creates the enterprise and everything to do with the people whom the enterprise serves - their clients. No matter how passionate you are, your job, as an owner and entrepreneur, is not about how you feel personally about the produce - it's about how your client feels about it. You may have exchanged blood, sweat, and tears for your ownership stake in the business, but your client has made the very personal - almost intimate - decision to buy your product.

That's a hard lesson for many business owners. How often have we seen new businesses created by brilliant technicians who, after years of toil, have succeeded only in building themselves a job?

After four decades of helping people to fix broken businesses, I'd say the number is close to 95%. The lucky ones wash out of ownership and back into other companies as employees fairly quickly. The unlucky ones last a lifetime, breaking even and sacrificing everything - health, family, faith, and finance - to create what might only be a mediocre existence.

So what is your Big Dream? Have you dared to make it big enough? Is it so important to you that you can willfully feed the fires of that dream?

Even more importantly, you, as the entrepreneur, must keep in mind that your customer may not even know that they need what it is you have created. Nobody knew they needed a smart phone, an automobile, or even a cheeseburger from a drive through window. As Henry Ford once said, "If I gave the people what wanted, it would have been faster horses," and that sums up how the entrepreneur must think around corners.

Empirical and observational data along with a healthy dash of intuition often have to be combined as business owners begin to look outward, not inward, at what solutions they can provide to their customers. At the same time, the customer is more savvy than ever and their expectations about any transaction are potentially higher than ever today.

It's no longer about providing merely a great product a specific cost - "marketing" has muddied the waters of the consumer's mind to expect a Timex price point for Rolex quality. As the owner, you have to look into the mind of the customer and see and feel how their relationship to your product works - not just that the product works.

Your emotions? They don't matter, as hard as that is to understand.

Your own view needs to be tempered not by the passion you feel about what it is that your company does but how that entire experience makes your client feel. That's the real trick - when your clients buy your product or service, how personal have you made it to them?

Published on: Apr 26, 2017