Concept unraveled: What is entrepreneurial?


In business we value entrepreneurial qualities highly. In our job advertisements we mention that our companies are entrepreneurial, and we expect the same from our team members. But what is entrepreneurial?

What is an entrepreneur

According to Wikipedia, an entrepreneur is ‘an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative’. So an entrepreneur is focused on growth, on creating something out of nothing. An entrepreneur knows he has to sow before he can reap, cost comes before profit and no pain, no gain. Also an entrepreneur doesn’t wait until luck hits him in the face, no, he goes out and explores.

An entrepreneurial person doesn’t necessarily has to have his own company, an existing business can benefit hugely from entrepreneurial skills and thus can be very rewarding for an entrepreneurial personality.

In order for our companies to get the success they deserve, we look for entrepreneurial in a candidate, entrepreneurial as a definition in itself is intangible and sometimes even used as a hollow cliche. Let’s see if we can unravel this container definition.

Entrepreneurial unraveled

When doing job interviews with candidates, I investigate the entrepreneurial qualities of the interviewee based on a list of core competences. This list has grown organically over dozens of interviews, and has helped me to fathom the entrepreneurial skills.

Based on my own experiences and without any scientific prove, entrepreneurial can be broken down into the following 20 competences and responses:

  1. Pro-active:That’s been done already.
  2. Enthusiastic: That’s a great idea! 
  3. Substantiates with examples: When customer A started using our product their conversion rate improved with x% because….   
  4. Takes initiative: I think we need to improve X, I suggest to do it by starting with Y
  5. Takes the lead: Guys we really need to step up to get this months target.
  6. Takes responsibility: I will not go home until this is done
  7. Sets targets and reaches them: I will contact X prospects and get Y customers this month.
  8. Understands improvement comes from within: I did my best, but I could’ve done X and Y better.
  9. Offers a solution: This is not going well. I suggest to change the way we do it, and do X and Y.
  10. Thinks out-of-the-box: Processes need to be challenged in order to improve
  11. Evaluates decisions against core values and strategy: Although this seems a good idea on the short term, looking at our long-term plans this is not the right decision.
  12. Understands business models: I understand what your company sells, but how do you make sure that your continuity is secured?
  13. Creates report: Last time you told me you were preparing for a triathlon, how is the training coming along?
  14. Has a good sense of humor: I take my job very seriously, but not myself.
  15. Improves on feedback: Thanks for the feedback, I will apply this!
  16. Is authentic: I don’t know this, so I could try to give an answer, but it would make no sense.
  17. Shows modesty: Thanks for the compliment, it really was a team effort.
  18. Is competitive: I can make more appointments than you today. 😉
  19. Sets priorities:  I wanted to go out, but I didn’t finish my tasks for this week yet, so I had to do that first.
  20. Has discipline: Over a period of 3 years I have a record of constant over-performance.

If you recognize yourself in most of the competences above, on my list, you probably are an entrepreneur.

Is this a complete list or could you add other competences?

About the author
Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path. +

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