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About Me

Darren Winters is a self made investment multi-millionaire and successful entrepreneur. Amongst
his many businesses he owns the number 1 investment training company in the UK and Europe.
This company provides training courses in stock market, forex and property investing and since
the year 2000 has successfully trained over 250,000 people.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Ultimate Entrepreneur


In 2002 it was reported that George W. Bush told the then prime minister Tony Blair that "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur". Putting it kindly, this was a mistake. Translated from French, an entrepreneur is "someone who undertakes" something. Of course it carries a much wider meaning than that in the modern English definition. An entrepreneur is someone who takes an idea and builds it into something great and successful. Someone with vision, drive and creativity, and the will to make it happen, often against difficult odds. Or certainly that's the general perception. Does this person have to be a genius? Above average intelligence? What defines an entrepreneur really? will tell you that an entrepreneur is "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk." We're talking about people who don't have a steady 9-5 job, but who are believers in an idea that they will plough all of their energy, money and time into. With no guarantee of success and not much more than self belief to drive them, they assume a high degree of risk for potentially high reward. Although entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, there are some qualities that they all share.
For sake of argument, think of yourself as an entrepreneur. You've got a great business idea that you know will change things in ways that nobody else is even aware of yet. It may not necessarily be the prospect of making billions that's driving you either. You're more likely to be driven by a vision and a passion, because you know what you're doing has the potential to change the game. Other people will tell you you're crazy, but you could do worse than quote back to them those famous words of the 1997 Apple advertisement: "... the  people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

You'll need that passion to sustain you through the hard times, when you hit walls and things aren't going to plan. You'll need persistence in the face of adversity, or perhaps it could be expressed as the tenacity to hold on to your trust in yourself and what you're doing, regardless of what the world out there is saying.

As an entrepreneur you're in the uncertainty business, so you need a high tolerance for risk. You need to be willing to fail several times if necessary in order to get it right in the end, and you need to be flexible in your thinking. Your idea may need to change as your journey unfolds, and you need to be open enough to accept and work with that change. Uncertainty is a scary place, so you will need to deal with the fear associated with that. Fear of not knowing where next month's pay cheque is coming from, fear of failure. You must become accustomed to insecurity as a life choice. And you'll need the ability to think creatively so you can change perspective to solve all those inevitable problems that come up.

So far then we have vision, passion, persistence, high risk tolerance, flexible and creative thinking.  Throw in resilience for good measure. Not many people have these qualities up front, or maybe more importantly, are willing to adopt them. It is argued that our education system does nothing to promote entrepreneurship either. With its emphasis on conformity and "thinking inside the box", it arguably stifles creativity. It is interesting to note that people like Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Steve Jobs didn't finish higher education, and Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. I'm not saying you need to be a dropout to be a successful entrepreneur, but you don't need to be highly educated either.

My candidate for entrepreneur of the 21st century has to be Steve Jobs. Steve, who died of complications associated with liver cancer in 2011, really was a game changer. He changed (or even originated) personal computing, the music business, the mobile phone business, and the movie business. Steve was an adopted child who grew up around San Francisco and witnessed the birth of Silicon Valley. His adoptive father was a mechanic, and Jobs himself developed a keen interest in electronics. He left college after six months and in the 70's spent time travelling in India, looking for spiritual enlightenment. He also experimented with psychedelic drugs, citing his LSD experience as one of the most important things he ever did. He became interested in Zen Buddhism and maintained that interest throughout his life.

He combined this hippy counterculture outlook with a sharp business brain. In 1976 his friend Steve Wozniak developed the first Apple computer, and the Apple company was born in the garage of Jobs's house. In 1984 the MacIntosh was introduced to the world. It used the graphical user interface (GUI) that Steve had first discovered on a visit to the Xerox Corporation. This icon driven computing experience formed the model for personal computing going forward, and gave Microsoft the template for Windows. Apple appeared to be going from strength to strength, but in 1985 Jobs was ousted from the company after John Sculley, the CEO he'd lured to Apple from Pepsi, had convinced the board that disappointing sales figures and Steve's reluctance to put sales ahead of innovation meant he should no longer be in charge.

Steve was devastated, but formed a new company - NeXt. It made high spec computers with a sophisticated operating system and a magnesium case. Steve's emphasis on aesthetic beauty and high functionality made the NeXt machine too expensive for its intended market, and after disappointing sales the company moved more towards software development. He also invested money in Pixar, an animation company that produced the movie Toy Story in 1995. The success of the company culminated in a takeover by Disney in 2006 in a deal worth around $7 billion.

In the meantime, in 1996, Apple acquired NeXt and Steve was back at the company he'd founded. He went on to produce the ipod, the itunes store, the iphone and the ipad. Not all of this was achieved seamlessly. He was a notoriously temperamental manager with a strong perfectionist streak, and he had a so called "reality distortion field". This essentially meant he bent reality to conform to his own vision, which he communicated relentlessly to those around him. He probably wasn't the easiest person in the world to work with.

Steve Jobs was an innovator, he took existing technologies and transformed them, taking them to a whole new level. Did he change the world? He certainly changed the way we interact in it. We maybe can't all be Steve Jobs, but we can learn from his story and apply his vision and his drive to our own projects. As a template for a successful entrepreneur, you could do a whole lot worse.

 Darren Winters


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