Jay AbrahamShift yourself from the doomed world of a business proprietor into the dynamic, vibrant, possibility-based world of entrepreneurship.

Can we talk candidly for a few minutes? This is one of those conversations that could alter/redefine your business future…but it may be painful to hear.

The New Year that’s upon us could…possibly…be THE toughest, most challenging, stress-inducing, mentally buffeting year you’ve ever lived in your business.

Why? The reasons are many. But the point I want to make is NOT how competitive the marketplace is becoming. It’s NOT how different consumer buying patterns are changing. It’s NOT even a lecture about anything I teach, like my Strategy of Preeminence or my Nine Drivers of Geometric Growth.

No – there’s only one vital…critical…pivotal realization I want you to make as we start the clock ticking loudly away on this year of dramatic volatility we’re calling 2012.

As a business owner, you’re either a proprietor or an entrepreneur

Tragically, shockingly, but truthfully, something like 95% of all small business owners function as proprietors, not entrepreneurs.

Why is this fact so bad? Because your days as a proprietor – operating a “me too,” commodity-type enterprise are all but numbered. Stated less tactfully – unless you dramatically change who and what you are – your business could become “The Walking Dead” – possibly sooner than later.

I’m not even trying to scare you.

I’m writing this “red alert” to save you, pressure you, reset your belief system. I’m not doing this to sell you a thing – except, hopefully (if the shoe fits) to sell you on shifting yourself out of the doomed world of business proprietor and into the dynamic, vibrant, possibility-based world of an entrepreneurship.

Being an entrepreneur is radically different from being a proprietor of a business

So, as I examined my own goals for 2012, I realized that I ONLY wanted to work with true entrepreneurs — as opposed to business owners who function more as proprietors. Wondering what’s the difference? It’s huge.

A proprietor (as described by Peter Drucker) is a business owner who pretty much adds nothing meaningful to the business category they address.

On the other hand, a true entrepreneur is a business owner committed to continuously innovating – innovating how they conduct business and what they offer, innovating the experience people encounter, innovating the way the product or service gets delivered or presented, innovating the product or service itself.

Drucker didn’t say it – but I see a proprietor as someone who sets up a generic business that’s non-distinctive, one that takes oxygen out of the air and cash out of commerce, but frankly, contributes back very little exceptional value to the market beyond the “mere” self-serving commodity aspect of their product/service offer.

An entrepreneur creates something that never existed before that adds value to customers

An entrepreneur creates something new, creates new experiences, new satisfaction, new definition of what they do. Entrepreneurs create something different – more exciting, more satisfying, more desirable or valuable to the market.

They change, transform or transmute values. Entrepreneurs focus on changing reference models. They find ways to improve, redefine products/service experience, the process. Perhaps, MOST importantly, entrepreneurs make truly positive impacts on their market.

They are committed to being “game changers” – true innovators who renew, shift, alter, redefine their marketplace position and product. They multiply the benefits, magnify the experience, maximize the advantage–FOR the consumer. It’s ALL about benefiting the consumer!

A sobering question for the year ahead

When you look at the year ahead, ask yourself: Am I merely siphoning cash out of my market’s momentum – or am I truly adding innovative value? Am I a multiplier—or a diminisher?

Am I making a huge positive impact–or no worthwhile/significant effect, whatsoever?

Can’t answer? If that’s the case, you probably AREN’T innovating and/or adding anything meaningful, purposeful to your marketplace or their experience. You probably AREN’T making any true, positive impact!

True entrepreneurs require no certainty, instead they “feed on” opportunity. Problems are their fuel of achievement. Challenges are their competitive advantages.

But don’t think that entrepreneurship is natural, automatic and just naturally flows to some lucky people. It does not! It’s hard, continuous work – but what isn’t?

If you’re a proprietor, you need to convert and become a “Born Again” entrepreneur. How? Try this…

  • Become supremely receptive to seeing change in marketing, change in consumer buying habits, change in competitive offering as an opportunity rather than a threat.
  • Continuously evaluate your business and its performance as an innovator/value creator in as many critical categories as possible, i.e. product development, value added, buyer experience, performance dynamic of product, service people.
  • Become obsessed (almost) for discovery, development, perfecting new things – new ways of marketing, new ways of delivering your products/service, new ways of improving the transactional experience. See your world differently than your competition.
  • Learn to overcome resistance to innovate, by wanting/craving continuous breakthroughs in marketing, strategy, innovation, your business model, your competitive positioning.

Final lesson in your reality check

Everything has a limited…oftentimes shorter life and profit expectancy than we think. So, if you aren’t committed to making your current approaches (and current thinking) obsolete and continuously replacing them with innovative new ways – rest assured, your competition will do it to you and for you.

Bottom line?

Are you an entrepreneur who innovates and adds constant value and positive impact to the market–or only a proprietor taking cash out of commerce?

Whichever you HAVE been – there’s only one thing to BE today – a full-on” entrepreneur. Remember, too, that innovation and breakthroughs may need to be started small, but their returns, pay-offs and rewards should be huge.

I’m selling nothing here…except selling YOU on performing this self-reality check. I hope you passed!

Jay Abraham

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