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01 Jul, 2009

An Entrepreneur Is Impossible To Define?

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Executive Coaching Articles|Small Business Coaching Articles

Coaching Entrepreneurs - Coaching Blog

Following Sir Alan Sugar’s claims that it is impossible to describe what makes an entrepreneur, David Abingdon, CEO of the Alchemy Network, explains why it’s perfectly possible to train one to do great business.

When I heard Alan Sugar gruffly declaring in the last episode of The Apprentice that an entrepreneur is impossible to define or create, I couldn’t quite believe my ears.  His negative reaction, going as far as to say he would “bop” the next person who asked him what made an entrepreneur, as such a thing couldn’t be explained, was, in my opinion, way off the mark. I felt like inviting him to bop me, if he was so sure he was right.

My experience tells me something very different. Not only can you clearly define an entrepreneur, but you can harness a person’s skills and drive to train them to become one.

An entrepreneur is, quite simply, someone who can create something from nothing in business terms, whether it is a start-up or turning around a small or faltering company.  It’s about seeing and recognizing opportunities that others can’t. It means taking risks and being willing to put yourself on the line. It signals not accepting failure as an option. And it suggests never having a Plan B – because planning for a way out is planning for failure and is therefore self defeating.

Entrepreneurs are optimists and business builders, who display determination and commitment to get the job done and achieve success.

They are driven people, driving away from beginnings that are often impoverished and difficult and fuelled by a need to improve themselves. It’s no surprise that the majority of successful entrepreneurs, a figure around 70%, come from humble backgrounds. As a result, they have a huge hunger to prove themselves to others as well as themselves. In that way, entrepreneurs are created because they are propelled from where they came from to better themselves, driven towards the elixir of success.

I know this because it is a large part of what has driven me.  The country estate that’s my home now is a far cry from the deprived area in Birmingham where I spent my childhood.  It helped to turn me into a highly successful business consultant in the UK as the CEO of the Quantum Organisation, gaining recognition in business circles for making one company I consulted with over £35m in just two and a half years and earning myself £1.27m in the process.

But as I developed my consultancy techniques, I recognised that many people are so wrapped up in the technical aspects of their business that they rarely step back and look at the business as a whole. There was, therefore, a fantastic opportunity, to train people from all walks of life in business management techniques.

It’s not, though, just helping people to find a way of making their business more profitable, though that’s important. It’s reminding business people of why they wanted to do it in the first place – their goals, dreams and ambitions – and rediscovering the passion that once drove them.

That’s why the Alchemy Network uses its study and understanding of the elements that make a entrepreneur – who they are, what they do and what they wish to become – and harnesses that hunger and passion for success and gives it a laser beamed focus

You can’t give people the hunger, but if you introduce people to the principles of how to succeed, both in their own companies and for others, and help them to understand how they should act and behave, then there is no reason why they can’t emulate the performance of high performing entrepreneurs.

And integrity and honesty, often much undervalued, are also hugely important. Without these, it is a sham. They promote a lie and eventually get found out.

Ultimately, entrepreneurs are dreamers who turn their dreams into reality and highly successful entrepreneurs are those that learn to dream even bigger dreams.

By David Abingdon

2 Responses to "An Entrepreneur Is Impossible To Define?"

1 | Liz Wren

July 8th, 2009 at 3:24 pm


Thank you David for a thought-provoking article.

I agree with much of what you say, particularly in terms of harnessing the hunger and rediscovering the passion of an entrepreneur to achieve more focus and success.

What I missed is the fundamental idea that to start out, an entrepreneur has to be BRAVE. Many individuals have great ideas no-one else has seen. Some have the skills, contacts, experience and sometimes even a ‘last straw’ or push, to help realise their opportunities. However without a fundamental passion and can-do attitude how many people will take that big step?

I didn’t see this as bravery until (well into my second start-up), a very successful client that I respected enormously who was working in the field of innovation told me how he could never conceive of starting up a company – he was just too scared of what it involved.

Is this purely self-belief? Coaching, and great business management techniques can and do help entrepreneurs enormously – I would suggest for the most part the inherent qualities are there already.

2 | David Abingdon

July 24th, 2009 at 12:24 pm


Hi Liz, thank you for your comments.
I think you raise a valid point and indeed ‘bravery’ can, for some, be a requirement. In other words, the necessity to take a risk.
My view is that ‘risks’ themselves are ‘in the eye of the beholder’ because for some people the risk is perceived as slight whereas others may view the same risk as severe. As such, this perception may prevent them making the jump as it becomes unacceptable.
My experiences are that for many their fears are based on a false impression and possibly a distorted expectation of what is involved in starting up a business.
Of course, as you say, self-belief enters into the equation and coaching can certainly help people to realise their potential.
I truly believe that it is all about getting people to understand a basic truth of life: We can all be whatever we want to be and get whatever we want from life but we have to ‘want’ to, and we have to take the decision to do it. It is making that decision – taking that risk – that stops many people in their tracks.
Hope this helps.

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