Business forum: Entrepreneurs seek forgiveness, not permission
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We see entrepreneurs every day. They're actually pretty easy to spot.
Have you ever been stranded in the automotive purgatory of a highway construction zone? Do you secretly admire the driver who flies down the side of the road and then darts into the merge point at the last possible moment? Well, your rush hour hero is probably an entrepreneur.
This breed tends to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. They also see no problem using the other sex's restroom if the appropriate lavatory is otherwise occupied.
Entrepreneurs think outside of the box and have an incredible tolerance for risk. In his seminal textbook, "The Entrepreneur's Guide To Finance and Business," Steven Rogers points out that the average entrepreneur fails 3.8 times before succeeding.
Undaunted, his glass is always half full. Entrepreneurs tend to interrupt you when you're talking, ask a lot of questions and have unquiet minds.
Their typical question when facing a monumental decision is, "What's the worst that can happen?"
Most importantly, they create most of the jobs in this country. According to a study by economists John Haltiwanger of the University of Maryland and Ron Jarmin and Javier Miranda of the Census Bureau, from 1992 to 2005 all net job increases in the United States were the creation of startup businesses, not large mature companies.
If you're also asking who wants to be a millionaire, the answer is entrepreneurs. Data in Thomas J. Stanley's best-selling "The Millionaire Mind" proves that most millionaires in the United States don't inherit wealth. They want their compensation tied to performance, not longevity.
When I hear the word entrepreneur, I always think of my friend Ron Morris.
In addition to starting without external capital more than seven successful businesses mostly in the technology space and creating a significant amount of wealth for himself in the process, there is no bigger advocate for entrepreneurism in our region.
He founded and for the last decade has led the Entrepreneurial Studies Program at Duquesne University, which has educated hundreds of students on the sometimes Faustian art to starting businesses. I've heard Mr. Morris emphasize that being one's own boss does not come without a reasonable level of strife and personal sacrifice.
Mr. Morris also hosts the nationally syndicated radio broadcast, "The American Entrepreneur," which has inspired thousands to start their own businesses. He also writes prolifically about how to create new ventures as a regular columnist for the Pittsburgh Technology Council's TEQ magazine.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, he has provided startup capital and board advice to dozens of local businesses as an active angel investor.
Remarkably, these feats are not those of a mere mortal because Mr. Morris has been battling some serious cancer for the last five years. On Friday, Mr. Morris will be honored at the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards celebration for his lifelong commitment to helping people fulfill their destiny and win their personal freedom.
To me, that's about as American as an ice cream social on a hot August night.
First Published June 4, 2011 12:00 am