The Other Kind of Entrepreneur

Over the past few weeks, as I look for ways to support myself and my family while I get my next project up and running, I have come across several people unlike the typical web entrepreneur you and I are so familiar with.

The kind you and I are familiar with is the kind that sets out to change the world with a big idea. To create the next Google, or the next Twitter, or reinvent the way the world works from the bottom, up.

That’s the kind of entrepreneur I am. And if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s probably the kind you are too, more or less.

But the people I’ve been meeting over the last several weeks are altogether different. They aren’t trying to change anything, or make any kind of mark at all, per se. They’re just trying to make money in new ways using the web. They are very efficient, very focused, very driven. And they are making lots of money.

They’re doing things you will never, ever hear about. Their companies will never be on TechCrunch, they’ll never speak at an O’Reilly conference.

One of them has a tool that helps pharmaceuticals remind their customers to renew their subscriptions. He’s flying all over the world continually, signing up business partners as fast as he can. Nothing earthshaking about what he’s doing. Just removing a bit of friction from the system and quietly capitalizing that.

I’m coming to think that these are the real entrepreneurs. That’s what an entrepreneur is – someone who looks for new ways to make money. The web 2.0 brand of entrepreneur is more like what would have been called an “inventor” years ago. Someone with a crazy/brilliant new idea who wants the world to adopt it. Edison types, more than, um…….. I can’t even think of a name to go with this other type of entrepreneur.

Of course both types can own the word entrepreneur, no?

Anyway, I’m learning from these people, and enjoying my exposure to their them. I think there are things that the web 2.0 type entrepreneur can learn from the other kind of entrepreneur. A tiny bit of their nuts-and-bolts approach, mixed in with the “brilliant new idea” approach could go a long way. A lot farther than the pie-in-the-sky, let’s-change-the-world approach will go on its own.

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