Entrepreneurship is the ability to set up your own business, which brings something new to the market or a better way of doing something than currently offered by an existing product.
Occasionally, a new product or service is so innovative that it creates a completely new market. Entrepreneurs are usually risk-takers who have a deep belief in what they are doing. As founders or co-founders, they also reap the rewards when their risky decisions turn out to be the right decisions. Successful entrepreneurs include Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), Marcia Kilgore (FitFlop, Bliss, Beauty Pie), Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post, Thrive Global), and Jack Ma (Alibaba).
Are entrepreneurs born or made?
Entrepreneurs do tend to have abilities and skills that others don’t, and certain combinations of traits can lead to a more entrepreneurial mindset. A study published by Oxford Psychologists Press in 2017, cited that those who were weighted more on the side of “intuition” and “perceiving” (rather than “sensing” and “judging”) in the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, were more likely to describe themselves as entrepreneurs. Interestingly, Steve Jobs once said that “Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect.”
According to the MBTI assessment, perceiving types are flexible and spontaneous, and not overly concerned with rules and regulations. It’s important to note that all personality types can go on to start a business. The opposite of a “perceiving” personality is a “judging” personality, which tends to be more comfortable with a highly structured approach with fixed goals. These are equally desirable characteristics to have when starting a business.
Business school is not necessarily a requirement to becoming an entrepreneur, but it helps to know the fundamentals of good business governance – even if you then go on to break away from them! In the early stages of starting a business, it’s useful to have a business plan and to have a grasp of what business model you’re following, even if these things change along the way (as they often do).
Can entrepreneurship be taught? That is a point of debate, but business knowledge and active experience of being a business owner are key to honing the skills required for entrepreneurial success. Being an excellent businesswoman or man does not necessarily require that you be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs also need extremely astute businesspeople around them to help make their ideas a success.
Why entrepreneurship is important
The start-ups and small businesses that entrepreneurs create stimulate the economy and can eventually grow into multimillion dollar international companies with billionaire founders. Start-ups often require venture capital which attracts investors at various crowdfunding stages in the company’s growth to provide cash flow. Because crowdfunding can allow anyone to invest, this also contributes to economic development. Where a new business is offering an innovative product or entering new markets, this also creates new jobs that require skilled workers, potentially in different parts of the world.
Start-ups tend to integrate tech into their infrastructure as this is how they gain a competitive advantage. So, tech hubs and entrepreneurial ecosystems crop up around the world like in Kenya (sometimes dubbed Silicon Savannah) where agritech (agricultural technology) is showing growth. Some of these projects could be considered social entrepreneurship as they seek to find solutions to social or environmental problems particularly in farming, but also in healthcare. Social entrepreneurs seek to make things better for all and incidentally create economic growth.
Microfinance is an area of growth that is funded by non-profit organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Microfinance provides specially designed loans to small and medium sized enterprises, usually in more remote parts of the world where it’s difficult to get to a bank or indeed take out a loan. Mobile banking is just one of the success stories of microfinance that support social change in countries like Ethiopia
What are the characteristics of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurs often have at least a few failed business ideas or entrepreneurial ventures before they are successful. This iterative approach to trying again and again to find the winning combination for a new business venture is summed up in the Silicon Valley mantra of “Fail better”. It’s actually considered a good thing to have a few companies that didn’t work under your belt from which you’ve gained experience and learning. Obviously, if you are able to create a high-growth start-up business from scratch the first time you try, that is a sure sign that you’re an innovator and an entrepreneur! It’s quite common for an entrepreneur to have multiple businesses or to sell one business before focusing on another.
Being an entrepreneur requires that you are self-employed, which usually suits these kinds of personalities because they have a strong need to be their own boss and explore their own interests. Although entrepreneurs may be comfortable with this, they need to be organised and goal-oriented if their business is to grow.
Risk-taking and creativity are key attributes of the entrepreneurial mind – so knowing when to change strategy or try a different method, sometimes unexpectedly, is valuable. To be able to follow your intuition, you need determination and confidence, as although being able to listen to stakeholders is also a desirable skill, ultimately, the decision-making is down to you as the founder. Making smart decisions that will lead to a successful business when others are not so sure what to do is perhaps the best definition of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs are usually more immersed in the “big picture” thinking around their company and less concerned with the business administration. Yet they tend to be adept at identifying the partners who can help them leverage their business, either as a co-founder or to lead in important areas like social media.
Are you ready to be an entrepreneur?
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, there are always opportunities to create a product or service that offers a better way of managing everyday tasks or solutions to bigger problems. The pandemic has brought to light multiple challenges that need addressing and could be solved with entrepreneurial thinking.
Whether you’re keen to add to your professional knowledge or are planning a new venture yourself, the online MSc Management at the University of Lincoln could be the right fit for you.