[Editor’s Note: Today’s Notes, originally published one year ago, is about one of the most impactful things I do each year. If you know a young entrepreneur who may be interested in what we’re doing, please forward this piece along. It could change their lives…]
I’ve always been a big believer in entrepreneurship.
But not in the sense that most people think of that word.
My dictionary defines “entrepreneur” as “a person who organizes and operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”
I think this definition is totally wrong.
Entrepreneurship doesn’t have anything to do with owning or starting a business, let alone taking on great risk.
You can be an entrepreneur whether you’re an artist, charity volunteer, self-employed professional, entertainer, designer, teacher, or factory worker.
It’s all about your mindset.
An entrepreneur is fundamentally a value creator and problem solver: someone who creates something from nothing in order to solve a problem.
Essentially an entrepreneur is solution-oriented action taker– a person who works to fix problems rather than simply complain about them.
It sounds simple enough.
But when you think about it, this mindset goes against thousands of years of human development.
Since ancient times our species has been programmed to tolerate and accept problems… sometimes even ignore them.
Whether it’s barbarians at the gate, the astonishing decline of civil liberties, or even just the leaky faucet that won’t stop dripping, we have learned how to adapt and cope with obvious problems… and wait for –other people- to take action.
It’s the “Help! Someone do something!” mentality. This is for victims.
Entrepreneurship is about having the initiative to boldly step forward and take action– which is fundamentally what personal freedom is all about.
We spend a lot of time in this daily letter talking about solutions to big problems, problems like illiquid banks, insolvent governments, negative interest rates, etc.
You’ll probably recognize that the solutions we recommend are all about the individual.
We don’t ever talk about relying on the government to fix problems. They’re the ones who cause the problems.
Instead, we talk about taking matters into our own hands, distancing ourselves from the risks, and increasing our independence and self-reliance.
It’s an entrepreneurial approach to solving big problems at the individual level.
You don’t have to be a billionaire or start multiple companies like Elon Musk in order to adopt this mindset.
Musk is definitely a great example of an entrepreneur.
But that’s because, if you think about it, all of this ventures, from Tesla to SpaceX to his time at PayPal, spring from the same mindset: the initiative and willingness to create value, solve problems, and TAKE ACTION.
This same thinking can apply to a factory supervisor who takes the initiative to boost his production line’s efficiency…
… or to an office worker who takes the initiative to create a social media presence for her employer without being asked to do so.
Everyone comes across opportunities every day, big and small, to take action, create value, and solve problems.
Being an entrepreneur is about willfully flipping the switch in your mind, so that instead of merely noticing problems, you ask yourself, “How do I make this better?”
Certainly, sometimes the solutions themselves require special skills.
Even more, sometimes the solutions create an opportunity to start a business or create intellectual property, which in turn can lead to tremendous personal wealth.
These, too, are skills.
Starting a business is a skill. Managing a business is a skill. Designing products that solve problems and create value is a skill.
Sadly these are not skills that are generally taught in our government-controlled school systems.
But they are skills, nevertheless. Skills that can be learned. By ANYONE.
Like the entrepreneurial mindset itself, this requires the willingness and initiative to take action… in this case, to learn.
Books are a great start, and I can provide a comprehensive list in a subsequent post.
But I wanted to let you know about another option… one that we’ve found to be quite powerful.
By the way, it’s free. I pay for it myself.
I’m talking about our annual youth summer entrepreneurship camp.
(“Youth”, like entrepreneurship, is a state of mind… past attendees have ranged in age from 17 to 45.)
For five days each summer, my colleagues and I conduct an intensive workshop that focuses on teaching critical entrepreneur skills to select attendees who want to use what we teach them to make an impact.
It takes place at a beautiful lakeside resort in Lithuania and attracts incredibly talented, driven people from all over the world.
We only have about 50 slots available, and I’ve had the burden of selecting from countless applicants for the past eight years.
But if you’re truly interested in learning these skills, or improving on the skills that you’ve already learned, I invite you to learn more about what we’re doing.