The entrepreneurial spirit is often difficult to define let alone examine in detail because of its perception as a highly creative and dynamic entity and it is with this caveat that this article is written.
Whilst the entrepreneurial spirit can be applied to a wide range of disciplines and professionals it is perhaps most closely associated with the world of business and incorrectly used to describe many successful business people, when in fact very few individuals can truly demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit.
Historical Context of the meaning of entrepreneur
The word itself is French in origin and if interpreted in its literal context means "between jobs". It is interesting that a word that has come to project the very pinnacle of success should have such mundane roots as a means of describing being unemployed.
This article examines a number of concepts that appear intrinsic to what constitutes entrepreneurial spirit
In a highly developed global business community where new ideas and business models are increasingly in short supply the importance of uniqueness cannot be under estimated and those exhibiting an entrepreneurial spirit are often associated with concepts that encapsulate originality and ingenuity. Take for example, Steve Jobs bringing the Apple IPOD to the market,
Creativity is heavily connected to uniqueness but the two are not identical. Individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit are experienced at harnessing the creative process to help them produce a unique product /service or advantage. So where as uniqueness describes the end outcome, creativity describes the process of how one achieves it. For this reason those with an entrepreneurial spirit are often creative individuals who are ready, willing and able to actively adopt new techniques to get ahead even at the expense of being ridiculed by others.
3. Risk Taking
In a western society that is so often risk averse, those with entrepreneurial spirit embrace risk taking and it is impossible for such a concept not to be associated with entrepreneurs and the often high risk potential involved in following a new cutting edge approach. It must be observed however that risk is not the same as recklessness and those demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit are likely to be adept at assessing the risks involved in any undertaking.
4. Business Savy
As highlighted previously those with entrepreneurial spirit should not be considered as reckless mavericks indeed quite the opposite, good entrepreneurs are motivated by profit and are skilled at identifying a lucrative niche in the market that can be exploited for profit. Take for example, Steve Jobs at Apple Computers who has successfully navigated a profitable course in the computing and software industry despite the market being dominated by Microsoft and IBM for a number of decades. In addition he was the first to spot the potential of utilising the computing industry to open a new market to the music fraternity , with the introduction of the IPOD, the market leader in its business stream. Such actions requires great skill and confidence and demonstrate a clear entrepreneurial spirit.
5. Developing Potential
Identifying, Investing in and nurturing potential are also essential to the ideals attached associated with entrepreneurial spirit because of the need to find differing solutions to a business problem.
Established businesses often fail to discover breakthroughs because they stick to a rigid investment formula that has worked for them in the past rather than finding new ways of moving forward.
The entrepreneurial spirit is always adaptable and ready to overcome barriers presented by business problems and is usually quicker at resolving those issues than mainstream business thinkers.
7. Ultimately Destructive
Entrepreneurial spirit is ultimately destructive to its own business in the medium term unless those engaged in utilizing the concept recognize when it is time to handover to mainstream management focussed individuals who can maintain and develop the organisation. This is because true entrepreneurial spirit is obsessed with constant creativity and change which is unsettling to employees without good management and a clear direction. Many of those demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit rarely stay long term in any enterprise they undertake, take Richard Branson for example who after launching numerous businesses under the "Virgin" brand has subsequently sold on many of these to third parties at a huge profit to himself.
In conclusion whilst there are certainly key characteristics which encapsulate the entrepreneurial spirit it would be foolish to pretend that any one individual has all those traits and even more foolish to believe that such a concept can be comprehensively defined. It is also short sighted to believe that those with entrepreneurial spirit are only evident in the business community, indeed many different disciplines and vocations have historical and existing individuals contained within them that could be essentially described as entrepreneurs.
Well Known individuals exhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit : Richard Branson, Clive Sinclair, Freddy Laker, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Anita Roddick.
Words often used to describe individuals with entrepreneurial spirit : Mavericks, Tycoons, pathological liars, risk takers, self made business people, successful, charismatic.