Gary Vaynerchuk Explains What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur
Jun 27, 2016
By: Gary Vaynerchuk
I refer to myself as an entrepreneur now, but I didn’t always. Before that, I would call myself a “businessman.” But the more I thought about it, and the difference between the two words, the more I realized I truly am an entrepreneur.
So why the change? Because I’ve come to realize that it takes a multitude of specific talents and a particular mindset to be an entrepreneur. And for me, there is one that stands out more than any other: being unable to do anything else but build your business.
That is the true definition of an entrepreneur. If you are happy doing anything else and spending your time elsewhere, you aren’t truly, at heart, an entrepreneur. To be a true entrepreneur and to optimize your own success, in my opinion, you need to be completely dedicated to your business, to making it work, to creating that world for yourself.
Of course, there are other aspects that are key to being an entrepreneur, as well. I think it goes without saying that you need to be fiercely competitive, but while also unwilling to let the competition bother you or run you off track. At some level I’ve got an idea of what my competition is up to, but just a little bit. It’s all headline reading. I know who is making some noise in the industry and what their names are. But I truly believe that the BIGGEST mistake companies and entrepreneurs can make is looking around to see who else is in the running for number one.
But not giving the competition the time of day doesn’t mean you aren’t going to run into adversity. To be an entrepreneur, you need to have enormously thick skin. Because, boy, does it suck sometimes. It can get lonely being the only person at the top, where almost all of the issues threatening your company’s well-being will be yours to deal with.
The ordinary person who isn’t meant to run a business can probably only handle one punch. Me? You can punch me in the face over and over. That’s what entrepreneurship means. When you run a business, you need to expect that that is going to happen and you need to make sure that you’re ready to handle it.
Which brings me to this point: know yourself. To be an effective entrepreneur, you also need to be well grounded. And when I say that, what I really mean is that you need to be well grounded in loneliness. This isn’t something I talk about often but there is an enormous amount of loneliness in being an entrepreneur as the buck stops with you. You are often solitary in the moves you make and you need to understand that if you want to build something great, something to call your own, there are times when it will be lonely. The quicker you can accept that and adapt to that reality, the quicker you’ll be able to move past those difficult moments and do your best work.
Lastly, I want to leave you all with the importance of empathy in this role. You have toknow what your consumer wants, what they care about, and what they value in order to sell to them and show them you’re here to make their life better.
So while hearing the word “entrepreneur” may make you think about a strong work ethic, or connections, or funds, I want to make sure the business world understands the emotional side of it as well. It takes passion. It takes competitiveness. It takes thick skin.
If you think you have what it takes, it’s a tremendous way to live life.
About Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses. Fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3M to a $60M business in just five years. Now he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world's hottest digital agencies. Along the way he became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and Birchbox before eventually co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25M angel fund.
Gary also currently hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, a way of providing as much value as possible by taking questions about social media, entrepreneurship, startups and family businesses, and giving his answers based on a lifetime of building successful, multimillion dollar companies. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
Gary is also a prolific public speaker, delivering keynotes at events like Le Web and SXSW, which you can watch on his YouTube channel. He was named to both Fortune and Crain's 40 under 40 lists in consecutive years, and has been profiled in the New York Times, Fortune and Inc.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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