It wasn't until the 1800s that economists began to identify the significance of entrepreneurship in economic development. Entrepreneurs, they discovered, are the people who create new markets for new products and services and it is their energy and ambition that push these products and services into the marketplace. This hasn't changed much in the past 200 years. Our economy is just as in need of entrepreneurship today as it was then. Of course, coming up with an idea for a new business isn't nearly enough. To take on the role of an entrepreneur, you must put in the work to turn that idea into a reality. It requires many hats, long hours and a keen eye for detail to set up a new business.
The Entrepreneur as Visionary
When most people think of Apple, the first name that comes to mind is still the late Steve Jobs. It was Jobs who found a place for the company in the computer market, and it was Jobs who reinvented the company and the entire cell phone market with his vision for the first iPhone. As an entrepreneur, it's your ideas for a new company that will make that company a reality and it's your vision of the future that will shape it, and often re-shape it, in the coming years.
The Entrepreneur as Leader
Because an entrepreneur is generally the one who comes up with the idea for a new company, starts it, gets the financing and hires the first employees, he or she is usually seen as the leader, both from within the organization and from the perspective of those outside as well. As the entrepreneur, you establish the corporate culture through your directives and your behavior as a model for others. This also involves keeping everyone focused on their goals and objectives and rallying morale when times are hard. When others look at the company, as potential customers, suppliers or investors, it's the entrepreneur behind the company they will look at first. And this often boils down to your brand. What you do and what you say will often become associated with your startup.
The Entrepreneur as Decision-Maker
Running a company isn't just about the big decisions. A thousand little decisions will be yours to make as well. While you will be able to delegate a lot of the daily tasks to others as your company grows, the final decisions will often be up to you. If a shipment is going to be a day late, for example, do you rush it, or do you tell the customer the bad news?
The Entrepreneur as the Money Person
Undoubtedly, hiring an accountant or a Chief Financial Officer will be one of your top priorities as you get your new company off the ground. Until that happens, all of the financial decisions will be up to you. Even after you hire experts to plan the finances, the entrepreneur should always be up to speed on where the money is going and where it is coming from.
Other Entrepreneur Tasks and Responsibilities
One of the most important traits of good entrepreneurship is being detail-oriented. The more you oversee personally, the more likely your company will move in the direction you intended. In the early days, you're likely to do much more than you may have planned for – especially if you're starting by yourself, working out of your basement or garage. Until you hire a receptionist, a customer service rep, a shipper, a chief cook or a bottle washer, these jobs will all belong to you. Expect to stay up late at night and get up early in the morning, returning phone calls, replying to emails and ensuring every detail is taken care of until you can begin to delegate those responsibilities to others.
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.