Talent Alumni Review: It is possible to learn to be an entrepreneur
21 de October de 2020
21 de October de 2020
Professionals and business schools have long discussed whether an entrepreneur is born or made. We can now affirm that, if somebody is not born an entrepreneur, they can learn to be one. So, to answer the eternal question, if an entrepreneur is not born, they can be made.
The tide of current thinking defines entrepreneurship as a skill that can be learned and trained. Learning requires intention, motivation and persistence. Training in this field improves character and intelligence.
The adventure of a person who wants to set up an entrepreneurial project begins with the intention. Without the desire to be an entrepreneur, there would be no entrepreneurs. This desire originates deep inside the person and provides the foundation on which the venture is built. Desire in motion generates passion.
However, intention and passion are just the initial spark that unleashes the entrepreneurial impulse. To keep moving forward, entrepreneurs, also need motivation, which may be a drive to earn more money, to be your own boss or to give my children the opportunities that you never had. Entrepreneurs have to know their motivation and have a clear understanding of it, as this will guide their efforts and give them the energy to carry on in times of adversity.
The next vital condition is a thirst for learning. It does not matter whether an entrepreneur is 19 or 84 years old, on their learning adventure, they will read, study and gather information about the challenges of the sector and the socioeconomic environment in which they operate. They will form part of networks with their competitors and collaborators, and they will always be willing to expand their knowledge by gaining insight from mentors, advisors and consultants. This thirst for learning also requires humility and a willingness to accept help.
Entrepreneurs therefore become scientists that embrace the age-old and thoroughly human approach of trial and error. They are not embarrassed by their mistakes and wear them as a badge of pride. As an entrepreneur once told me, “a failure is just an experience that I have not learned from yet”.
However, not all entrepreneurs are the same. Some embark on their entrepreneurial venture with a clear intention: self-employment. They do not foresee growth, large investments or expansion. Their sole objective is to earn enough money to cover their outgoings, live well and give their kids a good education, until they can look after themselves. These are artisan entrepreneurs.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are entrepreneurs who risk everything for an idea or a dream. These entrepreneurs enjoy taking risks and the buzz and adrenaline of manoeuvring in the business world. Some succeed; they grow their company or sell it at its peak. Others fail; they lose all their assets, but they soon get back on the horse and throw themselves passionately into a new project.
This second profile is the one that we tend to have in mind when we talk about entrepreneurs. Steadfast, active, brave, capable, bold people who embrace new experiences and lessons. People with a warrior spirit who persevere in their quest for their goal, despite all the obstacles.
A woman once said to me that her husband “worked without knowledge”. By this, she meant that he worked without rest, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. She was afraid that her husband would lose consciousness from working so much. However, he argued that it was his way of life. “Squeezing everything out of life!”.
Passion, motivation and perseverance are key qualities of entrepreneurs, but so are leadership and teamwork. Great achievements are rarely attained by a single person. Good leaders and great achievements need the support of a professional team.
As team leaders, entrepreneurs exert their influence by setting a good example. They strive to generate an atmosphere of mutual support and motivate the team to improve personally and professionally. This results in a united team focused on achieving a shared goal. Entrepreneurs become role models that inspire trust and empower people to achieve anything that they can imagine.
Key character traits that MBA students at EAE Business School use to describe entrepreneurs include charismatic, generating trust, risk-loving, optimistic, ambitious, hard-working, determined, dreamers, sensible, resourceful and pragmatic.
What would happen if you had the intention to be an entrepreneur, but you lacked features of the entrepreneurial character? You could act as though you were an entrepreneur. You could observe entrepreneurial role models that you identify with, pick some of the aspects of their behaviour that pose a challenge to you and then try to imitate them repeatedly, until you integrate these behaviours within your repertoire of personal skills.
Another way to learn entrepreneurial behaviours is to develop our practical intelligence, a concept coined by the psychologist Robert Sternberg (1985). Sternberg differentiates between three types of intelligence: analytical, creative and practical. Through analytical intelligence, we assimilate concepts and work on well-structured problems that lead us to specific solutions (e.g. a mathematical problem). Through creative intelligence, we link prior information to current input and work on complex problems with multiple variables and several possible solutions. Once we have chosen a solution, we imagine its potential consequences (e.g. analysing practical case studies).
Practical intelligence organizes the implicit learning that we gain through experience, which we refer to as know-how. When it comes to implicit knowledge, we are unaware of what we know until we execute the action. Based on this knowledge, we adapt to the environment or select a different one that is better aligned with our goals. This is also the kind of knowledge that we put into practice in our decision-making processed throughout the implementation of projects.
In my entrepreneurship classes at EAE, I ask my students to choose a small project that they can put into practice. It does not have to be a brilliant or revolutionary idea. It might just be organizing a party, a football tournament or a fun networking event. The important thing is that they apply their practical intelligence and tackle the challenges of bringing an idea to life, no matter how small it may be.
There is a direct relationship between an entrepreneur’s success and their practical intelligence. Now that we know that you can learn to be an entrepreneur by training and developing our practical intelligence, my recommendation for entrepreneurs is to expose themselves to new experiences constantly, to enjoy the action without worrying about the results, to be driven by the desire to improve and work hard. Persevere and keep moving forward with excitement and passion in your project, whatever it may be. In short, I recommend living life to the full and squeezing out everything it has to offer.