Young: Defining who qualifies as an entrepreneur

I offer you a sketch of Mr. Okanagan Entrepreneur, that mystical, magical creature that so many of us would gladly emulate.

What is an entrepreneur? I have been asked so many times over the years in my business travels and since I began writing this column—what constitutes a successful image of an entrepreneur?

So I thought this week I would revisit that subject and see if I can enlarge  the understanding of the answer to that question.

The reference I would like to draw you to for entrepreneur success embodies the “actual launch of an entrepreneurial new venture” and not claiming mountains of money as a benchmark.

As we all may be willing to concede, while this is a notable achievement by itself, but I would choose to offer you a sketch of Mr. Okanagan Entrepreneur, that mystical, magical creature that so many of us would gladly emulate given the right set of circumstances.

In my past columns, I have invited you to embrace the notion that an entrepreneur is a person who looks at the world the same as you and I but thinks differently.

A person who grasps a perceived opportunity when they see it, analyzes it, evaluates it and arrives at that crescendo of faith that says: “I have it now, I will do it. This is my dream coming true”

If you think you want to be your own boss, run your own innovative and creative enterprise but you are not sure you have the right qualities, let’s explore the desired recipe.

What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur? How does an entrepreneur think? Is your personal profile similar to that of a successful entrepreneur?

The simple truth the literature tells us is that the majority of us are not born leaders, but become entrepreneurial leaders by who we are and the actions we take. To support your personal journey toward the entrepreneurial finish line, please be willing to open your mind, your heart and your sense of reasoning as you consider whether these characteristics are truly part of your driving force

I have reviewed my scholarly texts, websites and previous discussion papers and reports, and now readily conclude the complementarity of entrepreneurial characteristics across the research landscape.

Let’s take a brief look at the distinguishing characteristics of effective entrepreneurial leadership.

1. A global perspective—appreciates differences across cultures, learns from and finds a common ground

2. An entrepreneurial spirit—is not afraid to try new ideas and puts a combination of ideas together to make things happen.

3. An enterprise design capability—able to put deals together, structure alliances and relationships and build organizations.

4. A teacher—people in any organization need to learn new things from those leading

5. A fundamental value system (very critical )—integrity, honesty, respect for the dignity of others along with responsibility

Let me further illustrate for you the shorter version of how to rate yourself   in the world of entrepreneurial pursuit.

• Drive and energy—the ability to work long hours for sustained periods with less than the normal sleep (dead serious here)

• Self-confidence—a genuine belief in yourself and your ability to achieve your identified goals as an aspiring entrepreneur

• Setting challenging but realistic goals—the ability to set clear goals and objectives that are challenging, yet feasible

• Long-term involvement—a strong commitment to projects and initiatives that may reach completion in multi-year targets

• Money a business performance measurement—in the forms of salary, profits or capital gain ought to be viewed as a measure of how your enterprise is performing, rather than as an end in itself

• Persistent problem-solving—must possess an intense and determined desire to solve problems toward successful completion of tasks, core essence of new venture creation is seeking problems and finding solutions

• Learning from failure —understanding your role in any failed effort can be very beneficial in avoiding similar situations in the future and establish a clarity for your personal growth.

• Using and handling criticism—you will need to be able to seek and use criticism of the style and substance of your performance; at times a bitter pill to swallow, but acceptance of constructive criticism is acceptance of your willingness to grow and emerge as a genuine entrepreneurial leader

I would like to conclude my treatise this week with perhaps one of the most compelling attributes of any successful entrepreneur, establishing how high the bar  has been set by individuals for their entrepreneurial dream attainment.

Successful entrepreneurs never give up. It’s not in their vocabulary. There may be days when an existing or aspiring entrepreneur feels discouraged or disappointed, but, once again, giving up is not an option.

Having faith, trust, confidence and determination with some love thrown in the mix are the qualities required. To keep their focus on track, they will often seek out the support of those who know them, encourage them and bring out their natural enthusiasm.

The Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society ( was created to help guide potential entrepreneurs through this maze of issues they will be confronted by in pursuit of their dreams.

There is a solid recipe for personal growth and change that hopefully can spawn the roots of enterpreneurial spirit in your individual business pursuits.

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