Written by László.
This is a conversation starter:
There are employees and there are entrepreneurs. Two different breeds.
In many cases employees don’t trust (often are quite hostile to) entrepreneurs unless they report to them, in which case they idolize them, or when they perceive them to be below them socially, in which case they patronize them. (An example from the B2C world: the VP who brings business to the restaurant owner and never misses a chance to display to his guests that knows the owner by name and treats him with “respect”. The B2B world is different: once the employee patronizes the entrepreneur, business rarely takes place. To be fair, this works, although less often, the other way around, as well: for example, there are entrepreneurs who, by virtue of being members in certain clubs, are guaranteed to receive business; they tend to patronize employees who are not in the know about the setup and create temporary obstacles for them.)
In these cases B2B entrepreneurs can’t do business directly with employees. They need to hire employees and build a brand defined by employees in order to be to be able do business at all.
When two entrepreneurs meet, it’s not unusual that (big) business is done in 15 minutes.
When employees “do business” we have sales cycles.
Employees range from receptionists, police chiefs, to Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Satya Nadella, Paul Polman, Stephen Elop, Sundar Pichai, Carol Bartz, and other celeb CEOs, some corporate raiders, etc. They have the upside, but never the downside.
Entrepreneurs take real financial and social risks.
In rare cases employees and entrepreneurs may connect. This happens when certain ideologies come to the fore or values are taken seriously. This is nice. However, the same happens when not values, but the ideal of quantity becomes the common denominator across all players. When this is the case, there are no essential differences between the players.
(There are special cases:
– Politicians (combining, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, the worst of both worlds),
– People running state owned companies,
– The remnants of the aristocracy actively engaging in business,
– People who inherited business empires
– Employees who reach the top through the entrepreneurial route: Larry Ellison, Hasso Platner, etc.
– Techies who are pushed to become entrepreneurs by investors: Zuckeberg, Brin, Page, etc.
– Increasingly, venture backed startup CEOs look more like employees of VCs than entrepreneurs: they treat the founders’ game as a career and many times they don’t have a downside from their failures.)Please, share your thoughts, insights, observations!