Are You an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship and grow your businessVarious words come into vogue and then get extended so they become meaningless. Entrepreneur is just such a word.

In the last 20 years, it hasn’t been enough to run or own a small business what you needed to strive for is to be an entrepreneur.

And then even large companies and public bodies started to become and were rewarded for being ‘entrepreneurial’. This led to the rise of the intrapreneur followed by the voluntrapreneur. Really?

Great and often cited entrepreneurs in the UK are Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Robert Dyson and Peter Jones. In each case they have started, managed and grown their businesses. Each to varying degrees are self-publicists and risk-takers.

Once they were seen to be breaking the mould of business; now they are called on for advice and guidance about how to get ahead in business. Sadly the same is not true of America’s currently best known entrepreneur. Trump seems to be all about his story regardless of the risks to trade or nuclear reprisal.

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

The nature v nurture debate on entrepreneurship is long-standing. Whether you are born or made that way, some people are more likely to be entrepreneurial. This just means that they are likely to have the tendencies that are seen to be necessary in entrepreneurs and that they are comfortable to use them.

The GET2 test was created in 1988 at the Durham Business School and is about the General Measure of Enterprising Tendencies.  It looks at five areas:

  • Achievement
  • Autonomy
  • Creativity
  • Risk-taking
  • Locus of control

These determine an overall score to create self-awareness for the test-taker. As a free test, it is a great way to start the discussion of whether you could be an entrepreneur, because it doesn’t differentiate between learnt and innate behaviours.

Those most likely to be highly enterprising are those who:

  • Have a strong need for achievement;
  • Like to be in charge;
  • Seek opportunities and use resources to achieve plans;
  • Believe that they possess or can gain the qualities to be successful;
  • Are innovative and willing to take a calculated risk.

This seems to describe our 5 UK entrepreneurs example accurately. It is also what I often see in successful start-ups or new blood in family businesses.

Entrepreneur Bandwagon

The danger of a term becoming accepted and desirable is that it gets so extended that the meaning is lost.

Did larger organisations covet ‘entrepreneurship’ when the hitherto abundance of resources disappeared for those organisations. So the need to take more risks with reduced resources driven by a focused individual seeing opportunities needed a name, which entrepreneur fitted?

Or was it when the truly entrepreneurial business starters had built successful organisations and were on to their next challenge, that the distinction became blurred? While the founders focused elsewhere, the managers continued to develop their successful businesses in that culture of flexibility and delivery said to be entrepreneurial.

Entrepreneurs Sharing Experience

Recently a new debate has begun. This stems from an observation that mentors who are entrepreneurs working with small and start-up companies take one of two tracks.

The first is the mentor who believes they ‘own’ the mentee’s business and therefore tells them what to do. The second believes there are softer tendencies that need to be reflected on to deliver repeatable results.

Both require action now, but only the latter approach delivers insight and therefore more people with enhanced entrepreneurial tendencies. If that means more people having fun building businesses, I’m all for it whatever it’s called.