Young: Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive

Kelowna columnist Joel Young says we all have that business spirit inside of us

Yes, dear readers, the sky parted this week and I realized that I discovered a need to write some thought concerning the topical theme of this column – the entrepreneurial spirit.  At times, it is scary to ponder the implied zest of the word “spirit “ but, frankly, for me it is the very essence of what entrepreneurship means to me and those who follow the path of the new venture creation highway. Let’s go for a ride.

Deep down inside each of us has an entrepreneurial spirit.  The term entrepreneurship doesn’t apply strictly to our careers or our jobs and the ways we might experience making money; it does apply to every part of our life.

“What?” you ask.  Did someone change the definition of entrepreneurship and forget to tell us?  No, not really.  Strictly speaking, entrepreneurship continues to refer to starting and operating an entrepreneurial venture, our own business – a professional endeavour that still requires creativity, innovation, independence and, of course, risk.  But,  you can apply to your personal life the same skills that may, in fact, make you a successful entrepreneur.

In the traditional business sense, an entrepreneur is a person who doesn’t wish to be locked into a given job.  He or she is someone who has many skills.  An entrepreneur is NOT a nine to five person who collects a paycheck throughout the weeks.  Entrepreneurs have a true pioneer spirit.  They don’t just have a dream; they follow through to make it happen.  Successful entrepreneurs have their head in the clouds and their feet on the ground.

For example, being an entrepreneur is similar to sitting in a kayak with the waves breaking over your head.  The force of the water is greater than the force of you trying to paddle.  But, if you make the right moves by focusing your concentration and being diligent and careful, you can get where you want to go.

As a seasoned entrepreneur myself, I’ve learned that you have to paddle as fast as the current.  If you don’t, the current will push you sideways and take you off course.  Then, you are vulnerable to the waves that may flip you over.  Ouch…  Successful entrepreneurs feel that a life without risk is a life without living.  You can never achieve any success of happiness in life without taking risk.  BUT, you can greatly minimize the severity of risk by simply and effectively  – planning.  There must be sufficient planning and conceptualizing in order to move forward.  If you don’t know where you are going, you aren’t going to get there.  (I know you have heard this comment before )

Another critical key ingredient to successful entrepreneurship is doing something you absolutely..love.  The people who are successful in business and in their personal lives, are doing something they really love to do.  There are, unfortunately, many, actually,  too many people who launch ventures that they aren’t really interested in or have a genuine love for…hence, they don’t and can’t put their heart and soul into it and eventually, failure is around the corner.

Guess what, good friends,  you must be flexible in your entrepreneurial journey because sometimes you just have to follow your heart and know when to change course and investigate something new or optionally.  Change for the sake of change, or to escape something, is rarely a good idea.  But, you should consider a change only if you can convince yourself genuinely that it will improve your life and make you happy.

So, I truly believe that having the entrepreneurial spirit and keeping it alive and well means still wanting to run this new venture the way you might choose to run your life.  And, wanting to run your life the way you run your business venture.  To run a successful business venture, you will want to increase the number of customers you have unquestionably.  To have a successful personal life, you will want to increase the number of friends you have.  You do need a business plan to guide you on your business success path and goals and objectives to guide and measure your personal success.

Truly, the parallels are endless between an entrepreneurial and personal life.  For every example of the entrepreneurial spirit, there is a parallel in life.  Being an entrepreneur – is a way of life.  All you must do, is immerse yourself into an entrepreneurial “mind-set (did I say that?), and you’ll have the power to make things happen.

Please don’t lose the exciting and successful culture you’ve worked so hard to create.  Focus on core values and develop an organizational model in your new venture to keep your company’s entrepreneurial spirit alive and well.

I want you to know to-day that I am moving toward a three-part article, the last of the three part being next week where I will talk about entrepreneurial leadership.  Thus, after the entrepreneurial dreamer, the spirit and the leader, I may extend an invitation for an entrepreneurial quiz.  Ssshhhh…I’ll have to ask my editor.

Joel Young is an entrepreneurial coach, educator and consultant at eagleyoung@shaw.ca and Founder, Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society

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