In the last 100 days, as I have been full throttle on studying how we can grow and accelerate the startup ecosystem in Atlanta, it has been a deep-dive observation on entrepreneurship, not just in our city, but in general. One theme I’m starting to see is the dramatic differences between lifestyle entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs.
Seth Godin had a brilliant post recently:
…is like studying the appreciation of music without listening to it.
The cost of setting up a lemonade stand (or whatever metaphorical equivalent you dream up) is almost 100% internal. Until you confront the fear and discomfort of being in the world and saying, “here, I made this,” it’s impossible to understand anything at all about what it means to be a entrepreneur. Or an artist.
In that sense, I’m starting to see that individuals who have a single profitable lifestyle company, generating piles of cash for their families aren’t as similar as you may think to the entrepreneurs who create company after company, after company.
When you think about it, how can they be? If you have to solve each problem just once, for one particular situation, in one market, with one team, to serve one purpose– you don’t learn about the processes of solving those problems, you just solve the problems.
If you create one painting, are you in the same league as someone who paints for a living?
If you land a plane once, are you now a pilot?
If you learn Chopsticks on the piano, are you a pianist?
Building a team, attacking a market, building a product– lifestyle entrepreneurs learn how do it just for that one company in one situation. The most impressive entrepreneurs I’ve met are the serial entrepreneurs. They learn these lessons beyond a single instance. They are true students of entrepreneurship, not just students of one company.
Serial entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody. I am not promoting that you aren’t an entrepreneur if you don’t pursue multiple companies.
What I am promoting are these two morals:
a) as an ecosystem, it is important for us to recognize the different types of entrepreneurs.
b) as individuals running companies, self-awareness of our own entrepreneurial journey will give us the right stuff to improve.