What is an Entrepreneurial Engineer, anyway?
You already know what an engineer is. An engineer is someone who designs, builds, or maintains hardware, software, and anything in between.
Personally, I don’t like the word “or”. I’ve always preferred having the same person or team maintain and support what they have designed and built. Skin in the game, and all that.
You also know what an entrepreneur is. That’s someone who sets up a business that provides value to customers in the pursuit of profit.
Before I explain further what’s an entrepreneurial engineer, I need to introduce two dimensions that create the phrase: Entrepreneurial Engineer.
Who You Are, and How You Want to Best Serve the World
The two dimensions are: noun and adjective.
The noun in Entrepreneurial Engineer would be Engineer. The adjective would be Entrepreneurial.
The noun is who you are at your core. This is largely choice-less. Or at least not something your conscious self can choose. Who you are also affects how you see the world. As an engineer, I often see the world as simply problems to solve and I often solve them by designing, and building systems.
The adjective is how you want to best serve the world. This is more under your conscious choice, but not completely either. Because you need to be deliberate about what best means, this requires you to have some awareness and think.
In other words, an entrepreneurial engineer is an engineer at heart who sees the best way to positively impact the world is to start their own business for profit. This is how I see myself as well if you haven’t figured out from the name of this website already. :)
Contrast and Compare
One easy way to understand something is to contrast and compare with something similar, yet different.
A pure engineer and an entrepreneurial engineer are both engineers at their core. The difference is how they think they best impact the world and accordingly spend their time. One chooses to spend 100% of their time as engineer. The other needs to split their time between engineering and running a business.
A pure entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial engineer both start businesses for profit. The difference is an entrepreneurial engineer tends to see starting a business as an engineering problem. In fact, they see almost everything as an engineering problem. They think in terms of: what are the inputs, what are the outputs, how do we go from the inputs to outputs, and so on.
Another difference is in their priorities when they look at engineering activities. Even if a pure entrepreneur starts an engineering company, they think of it as “we build stuff to make money”. Whereas an entrepreneurial engineer thinks of it as “we make money to build more stuff”.
How Do Other People See Entrepreneurial Engineers?
Other people often use the lens of skillsets to evaluate entrepreneurial engineers. They see them as highly capable generalists.
Here’s a quote about purple people from the dbt blog.
This metaphor paints a world where humans with a deep understanding of business context in a particular domain are called red people ❤️. And humans with a breadth of technical expertise are called blue people 💙. Purple people 💜 are the people in between — they have a little bit of both that enables them to translate between red and blue:
Being an entrepreneurial engineer myself, I like to be a bit more precise and say, we are more like blue people 💙 who dress up in red 🧣.
But, we’re just as cool to be seen as purple. 💜
Most Resources Cater to the Pure ArcheTypes
If you find resources that teach about engineering, they are usually produced by engineers for engineers. If they teach you about business, they are, again, produced by business people for business people.
Very little resources about getting good at being entrepreneur are written by engineers for engineers.
To reuse the previous analogy, I am producing content about figuring out how to get good at the red stuff ❤️ as a blue person 💙 for fellow blue people who want to get good at the red stuff. Because there’s not enough of that around.
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