Five things great entrepreneurs DON’T do

Last week we listed six things entrepreneurs do and gave examples from Business As Mission (BAM) businesses we know.  This week we will look at five things they do not do – in and out of the BAM world.  Steve Tobak of Fox Business (and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow) suggests in a March 18, 2014 article that what makes entrepreneurs unique is what they do, and, perhaps more importantly, what they don’t do.

Do you see yourself in these BAM examples of Tobak’s five entrepreneurial “don’ts”?

  1. They don’t try to be what they are not. Real entrepreneurs are not ‘people pleasers’. They dance to their own drum beat and don’t try to change who they are. They don’t do what everyone else is doing, but they carve out their own path.
    • A BAM example: One business I visited, started with no real plan and was based on who the owner was – an artist!  As he thought about his ideas he started to follow his passion and turned his ideas into great products, a successful values-driven company creating jobs for hundreds of people.
  2. They don’t do it for the money. The driving factor for most entrepreneurs is solving some problem.  Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, just wanted to rate the looks of fellow classmates.  He never set out to be great!
    • A BAM example: Sam, George and Ryan were college buddies and were focused on altruistic values like helping people on the islands of their country who were victims of poverty.  They cared about the social and spiritual conditions and never really thought they would make it big. They just went out and did it with focus and passion.  They are now a highly ranked high end tourist attraction.
  3. They don’t give in to fear. 
    • A BAM example: My friend Rob didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about what could go wrong.  Oh yes, he did a risk analysis to mitigate the risks of his business in the high risk Middle East but it did not haunt him.  Bill listened to voices of reason and their instincts and when other expat business owners were expelled or shut down, he fearlessly moved ahead. His tour business last year report $2 million in sales.
  4. They don’t think about work-life balance. For the entrepreneur types, work comes first because they tend to be workaholic.  They live for the project and do what they love.
    • A BAM example: A caution about this “don’t”: from a social enterprise and BAM perspective, this tendency may mitigate the balance that is needed for integrated social work, modeling the family, etc. Such was true for one manufacturing plant I visited in East Asia.  The owner’s wife took me aside and asked for my help saying, “Pete is spending 80 hours a week at the plant and our little girl and I hardly see him.”  Pete’s natural tendency was to not worry about needed work-life balance but he needed some help from the consultant.
  5. They don’t have virtual mentors. It is one thing to have a mentor far away and on-line, but to really get ahead it is best to have mentors close by in the real world.
    • A BAM example: Such was the case of Walt who opened up a factory in East Asia as part of a bigger company in the USA.  Just as Andy Grove of Intel, mentored Steve Jobs, and Jobs mentored Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, so too Walt was mentored by a successful BAM operator in the same city.  Walt testifies to the value of a great mentor in his friend, Don.

Don’t miss what God is calling you to do – either by not listening, not acting or not proceeding with wisdom and understanding. If you are being called to Business As Mission, IBEC is here to support you. Feel free to contact me to explore this more (

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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