There is an ongoing debate as to whether entrepreneurs are born or made, but while entrepreneurs do have certain inherent traits, you can certainly learn how to become more entrepreneurial in how you approach your job.
As Tom Quayle, lead consultant at management consultancy The Chemistry Group, points out, it wouldn’t work if every engineer or technologist was entrepreneurial but organisations need a portion of these people to help drive their companies and industries forward, adding that it can also help to mark you out from the pack.
”For me, being entrepreneurial is about innovation and risk-taking as well as having self-belief and being able to stick your neck out,’ says Quayle. “It can be a fundamental trait of someone who is high-performance.”
There is an ongoing debate in the business world as to whether entrepreneurs are born or made. But while entrepreneurs do have some certain inherent traits, you can certainly learn how to become more entrepreneurial in how you approach your job.
Think like an entrepreneur
As already discussed, the classic qualities possessed by many entrepreneurs are an ability to innovate, high levels of creativity and a willingness to take risks. They have an inner drive and lots of initiative, accompanied by the belief that there is a better way to do something.
Entrepreneurs do not want to merely maintain the status quo but strive to achieve something above and beyond it. Start to think how you can apply this way of thinking to your role. For instance, where can you bring innovation to your work? While this might be about coming up with a brilliant new idea for a product or service, it could equally be about re-engineering an existing process or devising a new way of working. Have the confidence to take it forward and discuss it with your boss.
“Be prepared to take ownership of it and put your whole self behind the idea,” says Quayle. “How can you influence people to get the idea through? This involves both risk and responsibility so be prepared for that."
Identify opportunities and forge alliances
Entrepreneurs enjoy challenge and new experiences. Seek out and seize opportunities to gain new skills as well as to test and stretch yourself. This could be via a secondment to another department so you can gain a different perspective on the business or perhaps through a project that runs alongside your day job.
Opportunities such as these will enable you to see problems and challenges from a different angle that will stimulate your creativity and ideas.
“People don’t develop in a comfort zone so you need to put yourself in a stretch zone,” says Quayle. Also develop your networking powers and use these to good effect both inside and outside the company to feed off a broad base of opinions, views and ideas.
Importance of soft skills
Some entrepreneurs can be idiosyncratic if not a little eccentric and while this is part of what makes them great, behaviours associated with these traits won’t necessarily fit well in the workplace. To be entrepreneurial in your day-to-day job actually demands first class communication as well as other soft skills. You need to be able to communicate and make a case for your ideas so this means calling on core skills such as negotiation and influencing.
It is also important to stay rooted and ensure you don’t lose focus on your day job. Quayle says that some people can “over-rotate” their entrepreneurial spirit, which can mean they never finish anything and don’t achieve their aims.
“In a business setting, you need to be very clear on where you spend your time,” he says, adding that those with entrepreneurial tendencies have to ensure they achieve the right balance between creativity and practicality. “You might be building something brilliant but you have to understand how much time you need to spend building it. The best entrepreneurs aren’t distracted but extremely focused.”