Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? It’s a question I struggled with for years before I found the courage to start my own business. Seven years on, I realised I had been asking myself the wrong question completely. There was a far better one around – “What kind of entrepreneur are you?”
The latter question was put to me by Joseph Pistrui, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at IE Business School in Madrid. In a workshop at the Merit Summit in Lisbon earlier this year, he showed me that asking myself whether I have “what it takes” to be an entrepreneur simply reinforced my bias at that time – that an entrepreneur needed to be some sort of swashbuckling, risk loving maverick. That bias no longer represents the truth – entrepreneurs today come in many forms.
In truth, Pistrui noted, two of the common entrepreneurial challenges are a high level of uncertainty around outcomes and there are many possibilities for action in order to achieve an outcome. On uncertainty, entrepreneurs can be anywhere along the spectrum from a highly reasoned/research mentality around exploring uncertainty to a far more carefree just “play around” with it and see what happens. Around possibilities, entrepreneurs can be highly structured around which possibilities they consider or completely open to all possible courses of action.
In addition, entrepreneurship should not today be associated simply with setting up a business. There are entrepreneurs within divisions of established companies, within intra-disciplinary teams and collaborative international teams. It doesn’t matter where they find themselves – what matters more is that they are using imagination, creativity and innovation to drive themselves forward.
So don’t ask yourself whether you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Ask yourself instead what kind of entrepreneur you are ….