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Sunday, 3 March 2019

Entrepreneurship - By Nature or By Nurture?

Entrepreneurship?  Is it by Nature or by Nurture?

There is no question in my mind that entrepreneurs who create and sustain successful businesses combine great ideas with their own blend of passion, commitment, personal values and strengths. 

Indeed they often exhibit a huge level of emotional attachment to the business that is almost like having surrogate children.  In fact if that commitment and dedication is not there then I can't see how it would work. 

I had a member of my Vistage CEO peer group who had started his working life in his parents' baby wear shop. A customer asked him if he could supply a one-piece rain cover for the pushchair as the current three piece version was difficult to use. 

He could have said "There isn't one on the market" but instead he went off, designed one, manufactured it and told the customer. She was delighted and told all her friends. 

The result was that a new business was born and was rightly successful. 

Success came about through a combination of innate curiosity, a strong belief in his/her own abilities and a desire to create something new for a market that is well known. There was a magic blend of positive personal characteristics and an eminently marketable idea. 

Unsurprisingly then I tend to look for this combination of talents in people whom I am mentoring. It is never just about making money.  Most of them look upon material rewards as the effect or symptom of the cause and it is that which delivers the greater satisfaction.

Indeed the acquisition of material possessions can often be viewed, perhaps subconsciously, as a reward for effort that can only be given personally.  

They feel that the very act of creation, whether overt or hidden, is exciting, is enjoyable and delivers a strong sense of purpose and achievement. 

They also exhibit a dogged persistence, a sort of bloody minded intention to succeed whatever obstacles are in the way together with a strong conviction that what they are doing is right. 

It is said that Thomas Edison tried 1,000 experiments before the final successful incandescent light bulb emerged.  When asked how he could live with all that perceived constant failure he said that they weren't failures, they were 1,000 lessons that had to be learnt. 

The question to ask then is whether entrepreneurs are born or made? Is it a matter of nature or nurture?

In my somewhat chequered past I ran a Government sponsored training programme for unemployed executives called "Start and Manage Your Own Business" and it really opened my eyes. 

It has been suggested that 80% of start-up businesses fail in the first year through underfunding, a lack of marketing expertise, lack of financial expertise and overall lack of good commercial common sense. 

In fact all of those skills can be taught and developed which removes a multiplicity of excuses for failure.  The factors for success are much more in the way of feelings and emotion. 

Of course that depends eventually on both the skills and the emotional attachment being present in any entrepreneurial business. If the leader doesn't have a lot, indeed any, of the skills then the clever thing to do is to bring them in and make sure that the team is well aware of where the business is going; that they know what success looks like and how they are expected to contribute. 

An entrepreneur who can build a team of all the talents with the requisite skills and overlay a layer of commitment, dedication and above all, passion will have constructed a sustainable enterprise. 

The key is to accept that nobody knows everything so the ball must be passed to the right person in the right job and that takes humility on the part of the leader.   Not easy to achieve but dramatic in subsequent results. 

The collaborative role is better than the single genius approach. 

Remember that no-one is as smart as all of us. 


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