Dreamers, Skeptics and Romantics: The World of Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists.

Images of a cloud question mark, shark, flowers and coffee cup with a foam heart representing entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is in vogue. It seems that everyone is starting something. There seem to be as many apps as brain neurons. The new Apple watch is more useful passing the time than telling time. So much innovation is happening that no one has any time. The past is no longer just prologue; it appears almost like it never happened as the present accelerates ever faster into the future. The movie that is our mind runs faster and faster. The 21st Century creates and destroys all in the most creative frenzy in human history. What is happening to us and what will become of us in this entrepreneurial century? Who will we be and what will we be at century’s end?

We will be much different that we are now, is what can be said with assurance. Our specific form and function can only be dimly seen, and projected only with great uncertainty. There are, however, current trends that if extrapolated only slightly provide a glimpse into tomorrow.

The primary driver of these trends is now and will be the creative entrepreneur—the one who makes change happen.

What Good Entrepreneurs do Best

The successful entrepreneur is a person of many parts. Entrepreneurs are called upon to play many roles in the development of a growing company.  As persons of creative vision they must see the world and its opportunities according to a distinct reality that is different than that seen by most. As the inspiration and driving force behind the establishment of a fragile creation, entrepreneurs must be persons of uncommon focus and intensity. Entrepreneurs must dream clear and exceptional dreams that never were and that others never see. Click To Tweet   Perseverance is their most critical stock in trade, for they must be resilient enough to stand in the most pressing times of trouble. They require a sensitive ear tuned to the yes-­sayers of the world rather than the nay-­sayers.

Winning and losing is not really what an entrepreneur’s day is all about. It’ s about being unfettered, unbounded, and finding self in the chaos of new business creation. Money is not unimportant, but it arrives mostly as the result of the intense passion of a driving dream.

This early part of the 21st century once again appears to be the time of the entrepreneur, but with a significant difference over earlier eras. In the late 1970’s after the passage by Congress of the Pension Reform Act, which permitted institutional investors to invest in venture capital, there was a major boom funded through venture capital that helped to create both the personal computer and biotechnology industries. The venture capital business, which had been very small and of little consequence to either society or business development, started to be a major factor. It brought creative destruction and innovation, resulting in rapid social and business change, as well as driving high-­quality job creation.

The Nature of Venture Capitalists

The sometimes-­crazy, high-­risk business known as venture capital began to attract much new blood—individuals who were part riverboat gambler, part security analyst, and part entrepreneurial voyeur—a strange brew of skeptic and business romantic.

  • Skeptics, in that realism and pragmatism must often temper the optimistic fervor of the entrepreneur.
  • Romantics, in that often venture capitalists have little real control over operations or outcome, so they must suspend disbelief.

It is a business of ambiguity and adversity.

  • Ambiguity, in that often the venture capitalist must read between the lines, based on general knowledge and experience, to divine the real state of affairs for an investment.
  • Adversity, in that the investments are often highly illiquid and must be held through good times and bad.

Entrepreneurs often have a love-­hate relationship with the venture capitalist. They want his or her money to fuel their venture, and at times they want their investors’ counsel and contacts. But entrepreneurs also want to be free of limitations and controls. The biggest challenge is getting to win-win without blowing up. Next post: a bit of history and perspective.

–Len Batterson
Founder, Chairman and CEO of VCapital

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