Making of an Entrepreneur

All of you together constitute an ecosystem and have a very important role to play in the making of an entrepreneur. You would have heard of this before "Give a man a fish and you've fed him today, teach him to fish and you've fed him for a lifetime" Taking that thought forward, "You make an entrepreneur, he teaches so many more to fish". Entrepreneurs create employment and livelihood not just for themselves but at least for a few families around themselves and has the enterprise grow many colonies that they touch. So, more entrepreneurs mean more employment resulting in more lives taken care of. That is why what you've set out to do is truly very noble!!

A lot of the traits listed above are value based. Home is where values are evolved!

When one visualises a successful entrepreneur it is very glamorous. His lifestyle, he is his own boss, he works his schedules etc. Therefore, the lure to be an entrepreneur is strong. Very often I meet youngsters who say I want to be an entrepreneur because I will be my own boss, I can do what I like to do, etc. Very true and this is a good attitude for a true entrepreneur because it articulates a very important personality trait that drives an entrepreneur "The Need for Autonomy". This helps him shape his business to perfectly match his needs and those of his clients. Over a time he develops agility and creativity and puts his plans to work. This is a trait to build on.

With autonomy though come greater responsibility, sacrifices and obstacles to overcome, unpredictable turns and sometimes U-turns comes too. There exists no sure shot way in which one becomes a successful entrepreneur, so there is no step-by-step blueprint. Here is when the entrepreneur is alone, well wishers, family, friends, contacts, mentors will advice but the entrepreneur must decide.

I am going to discuss the traits and skills an entrepreneur must develop to deal with these. It is not essential that anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur needs these to be well developed on day one. Neither does it mean that if you do not have these you cannot be a successful entrepreneur, nor is this an exhaustive list. But yes these are a minimum list of must develop factors. The good news is that there is ample time to develop these during the graduation course, anywhere between three to five years right? Let's address these as personality traits and professional skills both of them can be developed over time

Personality Traits

1. Ambitious - Able to think big and scale up his business idea and business, to solve real world problems.
2. Creative / Innovative / Risk taking - The ability to think beyond the confines, apply cross industry learning and practices to solve a problem or client requirement.
3. Tenacious - Has a good grip, is determined to achieve and will not let go easily. Is not bogged down with small things like "I do not have the money to make it happen". He will strive relentlessly to meet the goals set forth in an ethical manner.
4. Need for autonomy - There should be no boundaries or inhibitions that restrict creativity. Is focused on providing the best possible solution not bogged down by organizational policy and procedures, he / she will find a work around.
5. Passionate - Gets involved completely and from the heart. Believes strongly in what he / she is doing. Very high conviction.
6. Optimism - Is sure that what he is doing will work and therefore puts everything behind it, long hours of work, resources and extraordinarily high energy. Will not let it fail if something goes wrong will get up and run again.
7. Humble - Has a large dream, is proud of every small success but lives with the humility of still need to achieve. Will express gratitude to everybody along the way and demonstrate respect for everybody. Is socially aligned with people at home, office and customers.
8. Persuasive - Extremely good at convincing others with his / her plans and dreams and has the ability to take them along.
9. Tolerate Stress - Has the ability to tolerate very high levels of stress, stay calm and take measured decisions even under stress. Therefore, stays focused.

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Professional Skills

1. Business Development - Able to prospect scientifically and re-open prospects if required.
2. Team player and leader - Is socially aligned with his people so does not hesitate to roll his / her sleeve up and get ones hands dirty. Is willing to take and give instructions. Build on good ideas and recognise people in the team who bring those ideas.
3. Marketing - Can organize and present thoughts and communicate them in a succinct manner. Gets a good understanding of client requirements quickly. Listens actively, probes, etc.
4. Management skills - Is able to perceive the system in entirety and coordinate the same to align them to a common goal. Accordingly directs human, financial and social resources to achieve the same.
5. Technology Oriented - Is able to adopt, seek technology solutions that will constantly improve efficiencies and influence others to adopt the same.
6. Functional Expertise - Is solid in his area of expertise and is able to understand related areas.
7. Environmentally Aware - Is constantly keeping track of the domestic, international and regulatory environment and how the economics of different geographies can aide or abate his business. Thus manage risks sensibly.

How can Academia help?

Get passionate about "Making of an Entrepreneur" have a focused program. Provide the environment, encourage students to participate in sports that will help them develop many of the traits listed above. Be transparent encourage them to participate in a lot of campus activity, encourage them to create new properties virtual / on the ground, encourage them to dream big on each one of them. Get them socially aware to work with communities in and around your campus. Increase industry participation on campus. Give each member good constructive feedback. Get all students to participate - leaders and followers will emerge. Followers also make successful entrepreneurs, because they help bond the team together. Most importantly ensure every one of your students leaves your campus with a clear, well articulated vision statement. If you can start with this in the first semester and see them evolve their vision by the time they leave the campus; youve done your bit in the "Making of an Entrepreneur".

How can Family help?

A lot of the traits listed above are value based. Home is where values are evolved! Practice these at home, so that they strengthen the entrepreneur in the making. I remember escorting my son to his friends place and they were in a big group of boys playing a game, somewhere during the game somebody was not fair. My son got angry and he was arguing for things to be done right. After a while an elderly gentleman called him over sat him on his lap, put his hands around his shoulder, calmed him down and said to him "You are a very nice boy, don't get angry, be a businessman - negotiate". An advice that I am eternally grateful to him for the profound learning he has given my son in that one statement. That's just one way a family can help in the "Making of an Entrepreneur"

What is the Individual's role?

Assess yourself and be honest about it. Discuss with your mentor your strengths and weaknesses without inhibition thats the only way he can help you. Articulate a "Vision & Strategy" statement meticulously and work sincerely on achieving the same. Revisit your plan every now and then and see if you are on track. Participate actively in sports especially team sports, volunteer at every college event they offer tremendous learning opportunity. Create your own events, your own properties online or offline or both. Stay light and stay open-minded you will receive a lot. Look beyond the confines of your college and explore opportunities in your areas of interest. The world is a bigger place with lots more to offer. Set yourself a target to have all those personality traits well developed before you leave campus. Leave campus with a larger, more realistic articulation of your "Vision & Strategy". This is a minimum "must-do" for you in "Making yourself an Entrepreneur".

About the Author

Practiced Customer Relationship Management for over a decade. Now applying those learnings and best practices to managing the Internal Customer (employees). We help our clients Unlock Talent, Keep & Develop the Internal Customer.

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