I’m fascinated by the concept of “being entrepreneurial.” It’s a topic that I think about often. It’s a behavioral trait that I admire in others. Something I strive to exhibit myself – although I certainly don’t always do it well, by any means. In any event, it’s something I feel is worth the topic of a blog. So I’m going to switch gears here, and dedicate this blog to this topic going forward. And I really want this blog to be interactive; so please comment, pose further questions and help me explore this topic in a collective way. I promise my posts from now on will be short and sweet, with a links to examples of people and companies “being entrepreneurial” – but this first post needs to be a bit wordy to set up the topic. So please bear with me this one time and let me know what you think.
Ok – here’s what I’m thinking. Whether you’re a person running your own company, a person working at a large corporation, or even a person working at a smaller company – being entrepreneurial is a type of behavior that I believe brings fulfillment, success and opportunity. It inspires confidence and trust by those around you. People will want you on their team, they will want to be on your team.
So, what does it mean to be entrepreneurial? It’s a behavioral trait that seems to pervade successful entrepreneurs (of course) – but also many successful managers and employees everywhere. Here is my starting list of those characteristics that I believe contribute to someone being entrepreneurial. Did I miss some or get it wrong? Please let me know!
Entrepreneurs tend to own their own business, or at least be considered a co-founder and/or principal of the business they run. So what do you call “entrepreneurial” managers and team members in companies they don’t own or didn’t found? Maybe “Intrapreneurial”? In 1992, The American Heritage Dictionary acknowledged the popular use of a new word, “intrapreneur”, to mean: “A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation”. Intrapreneurship is now known as the practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques, that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship.
That’s too stiff and formal for me. I’m all for calling out intrapreneurship as a formal concept, but “taking responsibility for building an idea into something real, through risk taking and innovation” is just a fancy way of saying a person who acts entrepreneurial at work. And, besides, how often does your boss pull you into his/her office and say, “Sally, we’ve decided to give you direct responsibility for that project your were talking about – so your job is to now be an assertive risk-taker and innovative?” It doesn’t really work that way in the real world.
So, I’m going to shy away from using the word intrapreneur. Since there is already a formal definition and all. I’ll just say that “being entrepreneurial” is where someone acts entrepreneurial whether he/she is the owner of their business, or the manager of a team of people at a larger organization, or even an individual contributor. The notion of acting entrepreneurial, and the success that I think comes from acting that way, pervades whether you are the actual “entrepreneur” owner of the business or not. I think it’s fair for someone to call themselves “entrepreneurial” in what they do, either way. I know – I’m changing the definition of an entrepreneur a little; so we’ll call it Entrepreneur 2.0 or something like that.
In Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), a peer-to-peer group for Entrepreneurs (it was called YEO when I was in it), we had a rule that you couldn’t give advice to your fellow entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs learned better, it was thought – and I agree – when they hear examples about other entrepreneurs’ experiences and lessons learned. So I think I will do the same here in this blog from now on.