The Deliberate Entrepreneur

There are those who rush through things and there are those who are deliberate about what they’re creating. Let’s call the first group get-rich-quick entrepreneurs and the second group deliberate entrepreneurs.

The problem is that it’s the rushing through things that makes end goals seem ever eluding. No matter how fast one is running, it never seems to work. It’s the second group that makes lasting work that’s much more like to succeed. Work that one can be proud of.

Being deliberate means doing something carefully and unhurried. Some people on the outside might confuse that with being an over-perfectionist, or a micromanager.

But to the deliberate entrepreneur, it’s more than that. To the deliberate entrepreneur, building a business feels like Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel. The work has to come out as a masterpiece.

Like the painter looking at a blank slate, the deliberate entrepreneur is willing to give up immediate gratification for long-term fulfillment. The deliberate entrepreneur doesn’t mind working long nights and weekends because of the belief that those long hours will be worth it in the end. It is that belief that drives the deliberate entrepreneur to do whatever he or she does in the face of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Persistence and the strive for getting every brushstroke just right is the thing that ends up creating the masterpiece.

“If you believe that something can be made better, put in the effort to do it […] micromanaging is underrated.”

Michael Eisner

The deliberate entrepreneur intensely focuses on every small detail around the business’s products, processes, and environments as they align with the big picture. Other stakeholders and observers might find such details trivial and the pursuit of perfection strange. But the entrepreneur doesn’t care. The deliberate entrepreneur wants to make sure that there’s not a single bottleneck in place to fulfill his or her’s painting – the vision.

And as an effect of this, the intrinsic value derived from the work is judged through an inner scorecard rather than an outer scorecard. The deliberate entrepreneur does not compromise own standards, those set for oneself, in order to earn admiration. In fact, not a single care is given to outside opinions and judgments.

“Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover? Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover?”

Warren Buffett

Steve Jobs is a perfect example. He was a master at critiquing a product, innovation, or idea, constantly reiterating the smallest detail to arrive at a perfectly beautiful and minimalist offering. He did not have any middle ground and he judged Apple’s world-changing work using an inner scorecard.

Back in 1985, he said:

“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

The deliberate entrepreneur is also risk-averse. People commonly associate entrepreneurship as being risky, and it’s very easy to get hung up on the risk-taking part of entrepreneurship. However, the notion of entrepreneurship being risky is very much based on the mistaken belief that ownership itself is risky. What scares many is what comes with truly owning something. The requirement to be accountable and responsible for the result of actions. But that notion is only true for the get-rich-quick entrepreneur. For them, the risk-taking part can be enormously risky.

The deliberate entrepreneur doesn’t really feel like taking a huge risk. Risks are what happens at casinos, where there is little to no control over what happens. People acting like deliberate entrepreneurs, however, feel as though the work they do, and the outcomes that work bring, are well within their control. Which they are.

But the most important factor separating the deliberate entrepreneur from the get-rich-quick entrepreneur is to not let it be just about the money.

The get-rich-quick entrepreneur leaps into entrepreneurship with the only goal of attaining personal wealth only to lose heart when faced with inevitable setbacks. The journey to wealth should be over as fast a possible.

In contrast, the deliberate entrepreneur is not motivated by money. It’s not what provides the tick. It’s about the experience, the way of life, the chase, the identity, the calling. It’s about knowing that this is the work one simply can’t not do. The satisfaction completely lies in the journey.


The key to successful entrepreneurship is to work on something that you’ll jump happily out of bed each and every morning to do. And the second key is to not let it be about the money. Then you’ll automatically become the deliberate entrepreneur and all the rest of the right traits will become fortunate by-products.

You’ll try to create the best thing possible about what you create, you’ll have patience getting there, and you’ll make sure to set your risks right so you won’t have to give up your dream and passion. The monetary rewards are sure to come and the business is sure to last longer and prosperously.

Oliver Sung

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