Entrepreneurs: Are We So Special? Entrepreneurial Insight by Miguel Palma

I came across this on my friend Miguel Palma’s blog.  A fellow member of Alpha Kappa Psi and also the Entrepreneurial Chair of our organization, he offers an interesting perspective on the topic.  One thing I rarely take time to do is notice the seemingly insignificant relationships between everyday life and my long term goals, but Miguel totally nails it.  Enjoy it and if you have any comments or ideas, check out his blog here.

I’m sitting on a folding table at my usual Sunday afternoon chore: the laundromat. My legs are crossed, and in my arms is my most recent literary adventure: “The Five Temptations of a CEO” by Patrick Lencioni. Today’s laundromat crowd is made of single parents, college couples, bachelors and the laundry guy.

There’s plenty of movement in the laundromat: taking clothes out of the dryer, folding clothes, exchanging bills for quarters, pouring detergent into the washing machine, etc.

In between chapters, I make observations of my surrounding. I observe 3 comparisons between entrepreneurs and the laundromat crowd:

1. The laundromat crowd works for money to operate the laundry machines. The entrepreneurial crowd, however, think about making a machine that will receive the money. This, I notice, is the biggest – and most important – difference between the laundromat crowd and the entrepreneurial crowd. While the laundromat crowd is working to make money to do their laundry on Sunday afternoon, the laundromat owner is thinking about the next service or product that his customers will pay him for.

2. The laundromat crowd has a quick trigger for a pessimistic attitude; they often give up at the first sign of a challenge. The entrepreneurial crowd, however, has a very positive attitude – often exhibiting an excitement for the challenges and the opportunities waiting to be tackled. Across from me, a lady puts a quarter in a dryer. Surprisingly, the dryer doesn’t nudge into life. Quickly, she sprouts into anger and demands assistance from the laundry guy. The laundry guy slowly approaches the dryer, assesses the situation, and after a few seconds the dryer spins into life. “The door wasn’t closed,” he says to the lady.

3. The laundromat crowd and the entrepreneurial crowd are motivated by different factors. Entrepreneurs, at least the good ones, are motivated by the opportunity to help and solve other people’s problems – they are natural givers, not takers. Entrepreneurs know that their success is based on the foundation of meeting other people’s needs and wants. They realize that success, at least in the long-term, can only be achieved by providing to others, not by taking from others. To put it simply: while the laundromat crowd is fighting for their own self-interests, the entrepreneurial crowd is thinking of a way to quench other people’s wants and needs.

“Entrepreneurs are not as special as we think,” I thought. Like others, entrepreneurs are also fed up with being bossed around, with working from 9-5, and with trading their freedom for that paycheck.

So if entrepreneurs are just average people, why are we all so intrigued about their entrepreneurial spirit? Because they remind us of what we want and should all become. Entrepreneurs are heroes to the average person because they have an uncanny ability to turn bad situations and turn it into positive ones. We envy their positivity and their unwillingness to fit the mold.

All it takes is an attitude adjustment.

My dryer buzzes and it’s time to fold my clothes.