Tom Nies: Requirements for great entrepreneurship

Thomas M. Nies, Founder and CEO, Cincom Systems Inc.

Entrepreneurs are a driving force of our economy. They help to create the jobs that deliver value, that deliver paychecks to people to raise their families, send their kids to college, buy cars from the local car dealer, etc. Entrepreneurship, for many, has now become the new “great modern dream” — that is, to become an innovator and leader, who can see and take an opportunity, and so be more able to shape and control one’s destiny in today’s globalized world.  To make such a difference one must truly be different. Consider

–          In the United States, about 600,000 to 800,000 new businesses are started each year.

–          Seven out of 10 new jobs are created by entrepreneurial businesses.

–          The National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Commerce and others have reported that since World War II, “Smaller entrepreneurial firms have been responsible for 67 percent of all inventions and innovations, and 95 percent of all radical innovation in the United States.”

This data, from important government organizations, prove that it is not the large, and very large, organizations that are the innovators and leaders but the “smaller entrepreneurial firms,” which start small and then become large through their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative mindset. 

Entrepreneurial success

Three factors are among those that contribute to entrepreneurial success: passion, luck, and willingness to risk greatly and be or offer something that is different and better.


Passion is talked about often. But what is it really? Passion is the willingness to suffer and endure pain, sometimes very great pain, for one’s beliefs. Passion is the foundation of entrepreneurial success.

Any leader must possess passion for what he or she does if success is to be achieved. Without the willingness to endure very hard and uncertain times and to defer gratifications, there will be little chance of success, and little reason for others to follow. Passion also has an ingrained essence called persistence. Without persistence, one might talk a good game — but doesn’t play the game for keeps.


Luck, I believe, is everywhere, although not everyone sees luck when it beckons. That’s because luck favors only the alert and prepared mind. But, leaders do recognize luck when it happens and seize lucky moments to advance. 

The word entrepreneur means “to see and to take an opening.” Therefore, entrepreneurs must be persons of vision and of action. The word opportunity suggests an open port, or portal, for success, which demands the unity of purpose that generates the power needed to achieve the successful gaining of the opportunity recognized. 


I simply cannot overestimate the importance of being in the right place at the right time.  But finally — and this is what separates an entrepreneur or job-creator from a job-seeker — is an entrepreneur’s willingness to risk almost everything — comfort, income, home, health and, yes, oftentimes even family involvement, to seek opportunities, to take openings and to satisfy as yet unmet demands. 


Passion, luck and willingness to risk are the requirements to tread the path of the entrepreneur.  Sounds easy, but it’s not. Because what I forgot to mention was success also demands action.  The greater the success, the bolder and more persistent the actions required. This takes courage, creativity and commitment. While you must be willing to lay it all on the line, you must also have these latter-mentioned attributes.

Is there more? Of course. You really didn’t think there were just three requirements for great entrepreneurship did you? There are many more. But those are the nub, the essence, the core of it.

If you’re considering building a business, becoming an entrepreneur, controlling your own destiny, creating jobs and making a real difference in this world, do you have the three essentials?

Thomas M. Nies is the founder and CEO of Cincom Systems, Inc. Since its founding in 1968, Cincom has matured into one of the largest international, independent software companies in the world. Cincom’s client base spans communications, financial services, education, government, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and insurance. For more info visit