Are you entrepreneurial?
‘Entrepreneurship’. It is one of those classic business buzzwords that is used all the time by everyone, but how often have you thought about what makes a good entrepreneur exactly? Our guess is: you haven’t, not even once. Also, why should you even care about entrepreneurship? Unfortunately, by not thinking about what entrepreneurship is and how it can benefit you personally, you are leaving a massive career boost on the table. Gone are the days where entrepreneurship was reserved to that small proportion of people starting their own companies. In today’s workplace, there is a massive demand for professionals with an entrepreneurial skill set. Not only in startups, but also in big corporations, nonprofits and governmental organizations. In this article, we will explain what entrepreneurial skills are, why they are important, to whom they are important, and how you can best acquire them. Read on if you want to accelerate your professional development!
Defining entrepreneurial skills
Although there is not one single definition of entrepreneurship, at its core it’s all about your ability to turn ideas into action. There are two components to this equation: ideas and actions. Entrepreneurs are often said to be a good mix between dreamers and doers. So, for the sake of simplicity, we will elaborate on the required skills within the domains of dreaming and doing.
‘Dreaming’ might sound a bit too vague, so think of it this way: entrepreneurs are people who can imagine a better world when they close their eyes. They choose to see solutions where others see problems. They care deeply about possibilities. They are rational optimists. This need not be big, paradigm-shifting solutions to complex societal problems: it can be as small and as simple as you like. Solving small problems is solving problems nonetheless. If you view the world as a set of problems that can be solved to improve a situation for a group of people, no matter how small, you have a good chunk of the entrepreneurial DNA in you.
The other half is illustrated by having a bias towards action. Just having ideas and thinking of solutions is not enough: those ideas need to be paired with consistent action to actually make a difference. Entrepreneurs are great at thinking both strategically and tactically, defining their next steps and the pathways to reach their goals. They have the courage and the discipline to take action before they feel ready, and they are comfortable with adjusting their plan along the way. So, put simply, an entrepreneur is someone who can envision a better world, no matter how big or small, and then gets his or her hands dirty to make that world a reality.
Why the world needs entrepreneurs
If you watch the news regularly, it can seem like the world now has more problems than ever before. However, that’s not quite true. What is true is that the world has more possibilities than ever before. Over the past decades we have seen the world and our societies change rapidly. Technological advances have been opening doors at an accelerating pace, and some of the biggest and most defining problems of our time are being solved by entrepreneurs. And mind you: not just in startups. Large corporations also need entrepreneurial employees to turn their ideas into actions. Nonprofits and governmental organizations often tackle complex problems, such as climate change or poverty, and because resources are scarce, they need to maximize their return on investment. That’s why they need entrepreneurs as well. Entrepreneurial skills are commonly mentioned by employers as a valuable asset that every employee should have.
If you are a student, you can give yourself and your career a massive boost by acquiring entrepreneurial skills early. If you have the ambition to start your own company at some point, the benefits of practicing those skills are obvious. But also if you want to work for a large corporation, know that having an entrepreneurial skill set can set you apart from your peers.
How to develop an entrepreneurial skill set
There are three good ways of improving your entrepreneurial skills:
Start your own company. The first option is to start your own company. Obviously, if you are responsible for your own company’s success, you can’t help but improve your entrepreneurial skills. You learn how to make decisions, how to formulate a strategy, how to make capital investments, how to generate cash flow, and much more. All of these experiences are of massive value to you in your career, because they teach you the essence of business and the essence of entrepreneurship. However, being your own boss also comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s not for everyone. Often, you have to put a lot of time and effort in to get a company that you started from scratch up and running. It’s perfectly understandable if this is not the right decision for you at this moment, but don’t disregard it right away.
Work in a startup. The second option is to work in a startup. This option is popular under students: working in a startup often gives you much freedom and an exciting challenge, but without the constant stress (and sometimes loneliness) that comes with starting your own company. The Netherlands has a vibrant startup scene and many startups are constantly looking for talented interns.
Research entrepreneurship. The third option is to research entrepreneurship deeply. On its own, this option will give you less significant results than the first two options. However, it can complement each of the first two options well. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: many great entrepreneurs have paved the way for you. Studying their successes and failures, habits, behaviors and personalities can help you get started on your own entrepreneurial journey.