It happened little by little and, in some respects, has gone unnoticed, but we have entered a new era. For the first time since the birth of the personal computer, neither Steve Jobs (get well soon!) nor Bill Gates are running their respective companies on a day to day basis, and we are without their leadership for the first time in a generation.
These titans of high tech are not serial entrepreneurs in the modern sense, founding and flipping companies to make a buck. They built companies to last and stood with them well beyond the point at which it made sense solely for material gain. They are classic business leaders equal to any of those from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Jobs and Gates took computer technology from the realm of government, universities and business and put it into the hands of individuals, and the world has not been the same place since.
Considering what it takes to be a great entrepreneur, the key ingredients must include thinking big, motivating a talented team and retaining control.
Thinking big requires that you have a real vision, which is rare. Most entrepreneurs believe that they have the next great idea, but many are just chasing the same idea 10 other guys had the week before. Only once in a while does someone have a genuinely original thought, and the preseverance to endure being called stupid while pursuing their wacky idea.
Having vision is only the seed. To have it take root and grow, you must be able to persuade others. You can draw a picture of a 100 story building in a few minutes. Actually constructing it is an entirely different matter.
And it can all go down the drain if you hand the reins to your investors or a pedrigree CEO. The best entrepreneurs are able to run the companies they build. Apple nearly went belly up before Jobs returned in 1997. In fact, even Walt Disney had to spin off a separate company, WED Enterprises, in order to plan Disneyland, because Walt Disney Productions, run by his brother Roy and beholden to investors, could not get behind the crazy idea of a theme park.
So I just want to take a moment to say thanks to Steve and Bill. The idea of the personal computer was more that just a good business venture. It empowered individuals, paved the way for the web and even provides a model for new markets, such as green technology. (Why buy power from a big utility, when you can generate your own on your roof?)