Are You An Entrepreneur?
Most people would say “no” to this question- but this is largely because entrepreneurship is narrowly defined as ‘starting a business’- by this definition, a comparatively small population of people are entrepreneurs. The United States Global Entrepreneurship Monitor http://www.babson.edu/Academics/centers/blank-center/global-research/gem/Documents/GEM%20USA%20Executive%20Report%202010.pdf shows that only about 7.7% of the US population is actively engaged in starting a business.
But entrepreneurship is more than just starting a business-in fact the traits that are so often attributed to entrepreneurs- risk taking, independence, brilliantly creating an idea – are do not even distinguish entrepreneurs from other groups such as physicians, musicians or business leader. My colleague Barbara Bird wrote about this in the late 1980′s, yet the belief in traits persists even though hundreds of studies show it is what you DO that really determines entrepreneurial behavior.
Entrepreneurship is a behavior a set of actions- it is identifying or creating an opportunity, marshaling the resources and providing the leadership and building a team to create something of value- either social or economic. These behaviors can be learned. Skills in identifying or creating an opportunity are rooted in design thinking; marshaling resources involves resourcefulness, improvisation and building on capabilities and resources you have; providing leadership to build a team means applying social and communication skills. These actions can be learned and applied in a variety of settings- family enterprises, social ventures, corporate businesses, franchises organizations, etc. There are all kinds of entrepreneurs in all kinds of settings.
If you have identified a possibility, an opportunity you might create or explore-think about how you can apply your capabilities (who you are, what you know) to an opportunity you can create or identify. Think about who in your network can help you, and who knows someone who can help you. Then – take action. Action leads to results which will give you an idea of what your next steps will be. This process, we refer to as entrepreneurial thought and action is learnable! My colleague Heidi Neck provides a short summary in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsQn1NRgu5g
Don’t be put off by popular stereotypes suggesting entrepreneurs are “born” to start businesses- there are all kinds of entrepreneurs in all settings. Taking action is the key!
Professor Candida Brush
Published in Forbes.com