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Why are professionals hesitant to become entrepreneurs?
Feb 19, 2019  |  Kenelm Tonkin


That’s an easy question.

I am reminded of my early days as an entrepreneur. An investor in my company once offered the following advice, “Kenelm, you need to specialise. You’re not contributing to the company.” Of course, he was invested in the company I conceived, launched, recruited for, marketed and eventually sold for millions of dollars. He happened to be a qualified accountant. 20 years later, he’s never started a business or created jobs in his own right.

Professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants are trained to do a very narrow range of work and to be experts in those areas. They are specialists. Their specialties are vital for society to function.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are generalists with an equally important role for a free market society to function properly.

Just look at what we cover ...

Entrepreneurs have to know a little about a lot of areas: accounting, law, tax, yes … but also capital raising, digital marketing, direct marketing, sales, public relations, competition strategy, market research, business planning, cash flow forecasting, asset allocation, risk management, customer service, recruitment, advertising, interviewing, training, KPI management, remedial training, termination procedures, group dynamics, team building, growth systems, product development, quality assurance, investing, treasury management, information technology, trade sales and exit strategies.

It’s a formidable array of disciplines and there simply isn’t time to master any of them and, frankly, that’s not the entrepreneurs role. The entrepreneur’s role is to know enough about all these areas to be able to converse with specialists. The entrepreneur assembles teams of these specialists. Professionals are the specialists entrepreneurs draw on. The professionals themselves simply don’t have the training, breadth of experience or desire to be entrepreneurs on the whole. You’ll see many exceptions, of course. But they are exceptions to the rule.

Most professionals are simply not raised or trained to be risk-taking entrepreneurs. Mostly they prefer to remain as the risk-averse specialists that they are. They are transactional. They fill a pre-defined role. And that is fine. We all have our roles to play.

Entrepreneurs are visionary, risk-seeking generalists.

That’s the difference!