There are so many potential barriers to people identifying with the concept of entrepreneurship. The most common barriers I see, in my experience of talking to hundreds of successful and thousands of prospective entrepreneurs, are that people:
- don’t easily identify with the word ‘entrepreneur’ and figure it’s not for them (the name gets in the way of the fact that so many future-of-work skills are located within entrepreneurial mindset and practice)
- don’t see the relationship between the entrepreneurial skills and the application to the work they already do
- see iconic entrepreneurs as if they’re different to us, for some outgoing quality that enables them to be ‘special’
- perceive that entrepreneurial success is genetically related rather than something achievable by all
The reality is that skills (that can be developed), behaviour (that can be regulated), processes (that can be followed), great products and/or services (that evolve in the pursuit of customer satisfaction and product-market fit) and entrepreneurial passion (or self-efficacy (more on that and a host of other mindset elements another day)) enable people to adapt to what they see and believe around them.
These skills can be taught, and they can be learned, nurtured and developed.
The behaviour can be modelled, acquired and modified.
The processes can be assimilated and applied.
It might not start with passion, but it will most certainly need to start with a belief; a belief in yourself, in your ability to influence the outcome of your actions (even though you might still experience a sense of impostor syndrome).
You might have the feeling that establishing a new business isn't for you, or that corporate entrepreneurship isn’t your gig, that you have no changes to make and you like the status quo…and that is perfectly fine…anyone CAN be an entrepreneur but not everybody SHOULD be an entrepreneur, nor does everybody WANT to be an entrepreneur.
But if you're curious about possibilities and opportunities in life, whether it's building your own dreams or helping someone else to build theirs, don't let someone else's belief in limitations limit your thinking. The notions that only a few select people can think, feel, believe and act on a thing, or that people have the necessary qualities, the "right stuff," that process and practise can't be learned - it's ludicrous. I'll take a self-determined growth mindset over the idea that we're genetically predetermined to 'success' or 'failure' any day.
Sure, we know that there are researchers who have found a ‘relationship’ between genetics and entrepreneurs. Some personality traits may be hereditary. Some entrepreneurs may have certain personality traits.
But correlation is not causation; while two things are related to each other in some way, it does not mean that one causes the other.
Many of us tend to think of personality as being fixed and unchangeable, however, while our early personalities may provide a baseline, they are malleable as we progress through time and life's experiences. You can develop traits and habits. Let’s see what you could influence, or be influenced by, in your quest to create something different/special in your life and/or the lives of others.
You might choose to control, influence and develop your:
creativity, innovativeness, risk propensity, proactivity, motivation, empathy, openness to experience, tolerance for ambiguity, internal locus of control, self-confidence, self-efficacy, optimism, cognitive flexibility, communication style, persistence, resilience, grit, relatedness to entrepreneurship networks and people, team-building skills, execution skills, need for achievement, need for autonomy, tolerance for failure, growth mindset or energy levels (and it’s not even an exhaustive list).
timing, new technologies, regulatory change, demographic and socio-cultural trends, market forces, luck or disasters
can influence your attitudes, intentions, behaviours, actions and opportunities.
With so much to work with to set your own path… can anyone really be an entrepreneur? While success is in no way guaranteed (and another story altogether) yes, YES YOU CAN.
Published by Graham Fellows (Foundry Manager) - 15 June 2020