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Value: John Warrillow

Are you an inventor or an entrepreneur? Add to ...

From the outside, an inventor looks a lot like an entrepreneur. Both are creative, pioneering and driven to solve problems.

But that’s where their similarities end.

An entrepreneur may also happen to be an inventor, or he or she may borrow something from working elsewhere, make a slight tweak to an existing product, or just change the way something is distributed.

Or the entrepreneur may change nothing about the product and start a business, reasoning that he or she can simply outsell the others in the market.

Occasionally, inventors who think they are entrepreneurs ask me for input. For example, a young man recently approached me about a skateboard accessory he had invented. He wanted my advice on how to build a company around this product. I told him to find a skateboarding shop willing to sell his trinket. In part, I wanted to see if skateboarders would buy it.

But the other reason I asked him to try to sell his invention to a shop was to see if he was an entrepreneur or just an inventor.

You cross the chasm from inventor to entrepreneur once you have sold one of your mousetraps. Then the fun begins. You need to define your market, sell, collect, figure out how to scale the production, hire, manage people, fire people, and so on.

So, are you an inventor or an entrepreneur?

Special to The Globe and Mail

John Warrillow is a writer, speaker and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He writes a blog about building a valuable – sellable – company.

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Follow on Twitter: @JohnWarrillow

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