Think Like an Entrepreneur

Can entrepreneurship be taught?

Can your students learn to be entrepreneurs, or must they be born with an entrepreneurial spirit? While some people are naturally more oriented toward an entrepreneurial lifestyle, and feel more comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship, it’s definitely possible to work on developing some of the key attitudes and attributes of those who start and grow successful businesses.

Many business books and experts assert that there’s just one kind of person who can be a successful entrepreneur—someone who’s a risk taker, extroverted, a natural salesperson, a leader and a visionary, someone willing to work around the clock.

It’s a great list, but it’s just not true. A whole range of personality types have become successful entrepreneurs. The key is for your students to find the right type of business to suit them.

Of course, someone who, by nature, needs an extremely high level of security, guidance, and reassurance might be a poor fit for an entrepreneurial lifestyle. But the idea that an entrepreneur must relish risk—be an emotional skydiver—is often overstated when describing the types of people who make good entrepreneurs.

Many people who don’t think of themselves as embracing risk become entrepreneurs. The key is that although a successful entrepreneur takes risks, those risks are measured. While entrepreneurs frequently go out on limbs, the ones that make it generally test that limb first to make sure it has a good chance of bearing their weight.

__ You see opportunities where others see problems. When you encounter a need that isn’t filled or a flaw in a product, service, or even our society, you look to see if there’s a way to solve it.

__ You are driven to succeed. You’re so motivated to achieve your goals that you’re prepared to overcome obstacles that would likely discourage or stop others.

__ You are a self-starter. Rather than waiting for someone to issue instructions, you can take initiative.

__ When you’re interested in something, you don’t need others to tell you what to do.

__ You are persistent. You don’t give up on things easily. You can handle setbacks and keep on going.

__ You are innovative. You can think “outside the box” when attempting to meet challenges.

__ You are energized by challenges. The idea of having to solve a problem, create something new, or build something from nothing, spurs you rather than deters you.

__ You take control of your own destiny and bear responsibility for your own actions. You don’t blame others for what happens to you in life. You can honestly accept responsibility for the results—both positive and negative—of decisions you make and actions you take.

__ You are willing to give up the security blanket of a “regular” job. You don’t mind working without the safety net of a regular paycheck or the benefits and social structure that an established employer provides.

__ You accept and embrace change. Change is inevitable, yet in the entrepreneurial world, change comes even faster and more frequently. But rather than fearing it, you welcome it and enjoy the excitement of the ride.

__ You can be a team player. No great entrepreneurs succeed on their own. You’re able to work with others to achieve a common goal. You’re capable of listening to others’ ideas and incorporating the good ones into your own thinking.

__ You understand the importance of making a profit. You know that all your best intentions and actions are for naught if you aren’t actually making a profit—that is, bringing in more money by selling a product or service than it costs you to provide it. You’re not embarrassed by the idea of making money.

Excerpted from Entrepreneurship: A Real-World Approach