Of Apples and Entrepreneurs

Painstaking research and high aspirations are all very well and good. But to bring in a profitable harvest, seize opportunity where you find it

By Bret Lamperes

In business, there are times when all of us marvel at the accomplishments of others. We stand in awe at the coups individuals and companies have been able to pull off. Why can't more of us soar to such heights? What stops so many people from going beyond their comfort zones and doing what it takes to achieve their dreams?

From my perspective, what separates a true entrepreneur from an entrepreneur-in-training is the ability to grasp an idea and run with it, to step up to the plate and smack one right over the fence.

I base this on my observation that there are three types of entrepreneurs. If each were to examine an apple tree with the object being to bring in a harvest, the outcomes would vary considerably.

Begin with the analytical entrepreneur, who studies the roots, examines soil samples, and then works his way up through the bark and leaves until he feels comfortable reaching for the fruit. Don't get me wrong: All of us benefit from the detailed quest for knowledge these people bring to our world. There will always a place for research.


  The problem, however, is that too much analysis can be a stumbling block. These folks won't do anything until they have mastered every aspect of the subject. All too often, this passion for microscopic detail means they miss the window of opportunity -- they fail to see the larger picture until it is too late. They are afraid to fail because they equate failure with stupidity. Ironically, by attempting to become too smart, they all too often guarantee fail in any case.

Me? I love failure! All of us can learn so much more from our mistakes than from the things we get right. Tell me about your failures and how you persevered, and I will know more about your business IQ than the details of your successes can ever reveal.

The second species of entrepreneur focuses on the very best fruit at the top of the tree. They won't settle for anything less than the cream of the crop. Again, don't get me wrong: These entrepreneurs are to be commended for their commitment to excellence. Their unwillingness to gather a unripened harvest and the hard work of negotiating the dangerous branches at the top of the tree often pays off big time. But such a narrowly defined objective also has its pitfalls. They can slip and fall out of the tree before reaching their goal. In real-life terms, think of it this way: These entrepreneurs usually need outside funding to succeed.


  The final variety of entrepreneur sees all of the fruit on the ground, in the tree, and the prize apples at the top. They start to gather the fallen fruit first, move to the low-hanging fruit, then hire someone to climb the tree and get the rest. With the profits, they then hire an expert to study the roots and soil with a view to increasing next year's harvest.

My success has come from gathering the fruit. It's a simple philosophy: You need to achieve overall effectiveness before you become selectively efficient, which tends to demand a greater financial investment. Unless you are well-funded, make a point to become effective before you become efficient. Generate the profits that make it possible to learn as you grow. That's my formula for success.

So which kind of entrepreneur are you: The one that needs to know everything before doing anything, the one that shoots for the stars but falls short, or the one who dives in and gathers the fruit where you find it? It's a question you need to ask yourself before heading into the orchard of opportunity. Happy harvest!

Bret Lamperes is an entrepreneur in Northern Colorado. He owns Dandelion Moving & Storage, Dandelion Mini-Storage, and DickerABid.com

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