The first thought that comes to the mind of most people when the word entrepreneur is mentioned is someone that starts a business. Starting a new venture is one of the things entrepreneurs do but that is not what makes them entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship truly is a mind-set more than an act of starting a business. It is a discipline which can be learned by everyone.
Peter Drucker puts it better this way;
“Most of what you hear about entrepreneurship is all wrong. It’s not magic; it’s not mysterious; and it has nothing to do with genes. It’s a discipline and, like any discipline, it can be learned”
Most of us would say Mark Zuckerberg is an entrepreneur, but a good question is did he start Facebook because he was an entrepreneur? Not at all, there was a problem that needed a solution and he took it upon himself to build a solution which eventually transformed into Facebook. Here is an excerpt of his interview with Business Insider on how Facebook started;
“……. it was an art history class — there were all these pieces of art in the class and they were going to show you a handful and you would need to write an essay about the historical significance of that piece of art.
I hadn’t paid much attention in the class because I was programming other things so when it came time for the final I was like oh I am screwed…….
So as a study tool I built a little service that showed you at random one of the pieces of art and let you enter what you thought was significant from an art history perspective. So I sent it out to the email list for the class …….. and everyone just filled in what is significant about all the pieces of art ….
I thought I should put some of this stuff together to create a tool where people can share whatever they want with the people around them. And that was how the first version of Facebook came”.
Mark did not start Facebook because he was an entrepreneur; he only did what entrepreneurs normally do. What they really do is that they see needs or problems that are not being addressed at all or not properly being addressed and they create a solution around it.
It is then appropriate to define an entrepreneur as someone who makes valuable things happen and takes full responsibility for their success or failure. It is this mind-set that is required by every employee because there are always needs to be met in every organisation.
Organisations are becoming more intolerable of people who cannot make things happen since the rules that created commercial success in the past have radically changed. It is now more necessary for employees to become entrepreneurs. Unfortunately we cannot fight this change, we must wake up the part of us that loves change and takes responsibility.
Below are some of my reasons why every employee must become entrepreneurs;
- Entrepreneurship is a discipline. Just like project management, you may have a Master’s degree in studying it but if you do not imbibe the discipline of the practice you will not be able to manage projects successfully. What makes us entrepreneurs is not starting a business, but being disciplined to spot opportunities for adding value especially in an unthinkable way and to take bold steps to make it happen.
- It is about taking calculated and tested risk. We are in a time of uncertainty and everyone needs a dose of risk taking to survive in a changing world.
- Organisations whose employees are not entrepreneurs risk their business being disrupted externally by other entrepreneurs. This is a truth that many organisations are yet to come to terms with but as many more are becoming aware of this, so also is the growing need for reassessment of their workforce.
- Entrepreneurship is a positive mind-set towards problem solving. Organisations value problem solvers not mere jobbers, because they don’t stop at anything to get a problem solved. These are the people that stand a chance in the budding organisation paradigm
- Entrepreneurs eschew stability and embrace chaos. Where things seem to be going wrong, they see opportunities to make changes. A “non-preneur” fights to maintain the status quo but becomes a victim in a short while because it is hard to fight against a revolutionary change
- Entrepreneurs like to identify with missions that are bigger than them. People like this in an organisation possess psychic equity that makes them to be part of something bigger than themselves, feel ownership over their jobs, and feel like co-owners. Employers don’t joke with such people. If you want to get more attention of your employer, then become an entrepreneur or intrapreneur as they are called in organisations.
Akindele Afolabi is a Professional Human Resource Leader , Career Counselor & Capability Trainer.