What’s the entrepreneur secret sauce?

They’re the wizards of the business world. Striking out on their own and flipping companies like a short order cook at the pancake grill. But what’s their secret?

artwork by streamline studios

They get up in the morning, stretch, brush their teeth and head to the local coffee shop, but that’s where they change into a different being. Entrepreneurs approach their day with an entirely different perspective. Here are five ways the entrepreneur is different than the rest of us.

Why are they important? Because even if you don’t own a business, these things will help you out in your life.

1. WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?

Here’s a little nugget: Working as an entrepreneur you learn to never, ever discard any idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked on an idea, said this idea sucks, it’s wrong, it has no merit, then at the end of the process of refining it I suddenly realize it’s an excellent idea. In fact, my crappy idea mysteriously morphed into a winning idea.

How’s that?

Why is that?

I don’t know. But I do know it happens, and I do know talking to other entrepreneurs they do the same thing. Never make assumptions until it becomes abundantly clear you’re down the wrong path. And even then, months later, you may discover, hey, that’s where you want to be.

It’s likely you’re reading this post on a smartphone with a touch screen. Well, Hewlett-Packard invented that technology 30 years before it was put to use, and that was by another company. An idea they discarded as impractical was just an idea decades before it’s time.

I have this thought that the brain doesn’t come up with bad ideas. Another way of saying our brains are a lot smarter than we are. Our goal is to get out of the brain’s way. Follow your gut. That’s a way of saying a bad idea is just an idea that might not be understood yet. Give your ideas time. You might surprise yourself!

And when you get the idea going take the next step.

2. 30,000-FOOT VIEW

If you want to get a view of what’s going on, take off to the clouds. Do you know that detached view of things you get when you’re gazing out the window of a jet? The world is down there, but in an odd way it has nothing to do with you. Entrepreneurs learn to develop that detachment. Not every moment of the day, but now and then it helps just to float above a situation.

From 30, 000 feet you get to the long view. The little things disappear and the big things remain and your focus naturally drifts to the decisions that matter, the ones that make the difference. This helps in business, and it helps in life. And here’s something else that helps.

3. DON’T TIE KNOTS, UNTIE KNOTS

I’ve been in production for almost 30 years, and I’ve seen two types of producers. Those who cause problems and those who prevent problems. Like most things in life, I think it boils down to a kind of fear.

Entrepreneurs see problems as opportunities. You get to strut your stuff. You get to rise to the challenge. You get to try out new ideas, uncover new techniques, discover new paths. Problems are anything but problems, unless you don’t have the skill set or temperament to deal with them, then your approach is probably to cause more problems.

Ego comes into play as well. Real entrepreneurs are happy to find answers wherever they find them and give credit too. A great business is a place where everybody is working together, and that’s the entrepreneur’s ultimate goal — a functioning, well-oiled machine. Which brings us to this:

4. ALL TOGETHER NOW

This is the no man is an island part of our program. You can’t do it alone. You need your family. You need your friends. Your team. Your need your network. Your clients. Your competitors. A lot of business focuses on financials, time-management, asset deployment, P&L sheets, planning, but the critical component in any business, big or small, is people. If I’ve learned anything after years of running a business and doing deals it’s this: take a long hard look at the people involved, and if there’s any doubt, any hesitation about their behavior or character, walk. Life’s too short. You can work with good people just as easily as you can work with jerks. Be careful. But always remember this next bit.

5. THERE IS NO LIFE OR DEATH DECISION

Okay, sometimes there is, I’ll admit, but most times, most days, most decades there’s not, and certainly life or decisions in business are rare. Why is this important? Entrepreneurs make hundreds of decisions, big and small. We all do. Heck, deciding what pants to wear is a daily decision, but entrepreneurs recognize the most important thing is to make a decision — good OR bad. Decisions lead to momentum, and lack of momentum is more critical to the life of a business than a bad decision. Most bad decisions don’t turn out all bad. And bad decisions can often be transformed into a learning event.

Make the decision. Don’t hem and haw endlessly at every fork in the road. Make a decision and move one. Sometimes the best decision is the wrong decision. I learned a valuable lesson from golf: never spoil a good shot with a bad mouth. In other words, after you swing keep your mouth shut until you see the result. That way if the ball went someplace you didn’t intend, but it turned out to be a good place, you can still take credit for it! Be decisive: the entrepreneur’s creed.