The popular conception of entrepreneurship links it inextricably to creating or starting a business. The reality is that entrepreneurship is a mindset that can be practiced independently of owning or running a business.
Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being Sisyphus—struggling to push a heavy boulder up a mountain at the risk of being crushed by it. That boulder does not necessarily need to be a business venture. It can be any challenging and ambitious task: the pursuit of an innovative idea or an untested but potentially game-changing approach. But it requires the entrepreneur to dedicate herself to the task, and assume a very real risk of being rolled over in the process.
Not every business owner is an entrepreneur and not every employee is just a follower. Entrepreneurship is a mindset, and anyone can be entrepreneurial by practicing 3 key traits.
1. Willingness to try something new
An entrepreneur needs to be willing to create something from scratch, to stray from the beaten path, to think different. Innovation is a cornerstone of entrepreneurship because the entire mindset is informed by the ability to try alternate approaches or different ideas. To be an entrepreneur you don’t have to invent something new each time. You can innovate on existing ideas. Remember, before Facebook there was Myspace and before Google search there was Yahoo.
2. Willingness to take a risk
Entrepreneurs are willing to do things where outcomes are uncertain, willing to go outside their comfort zones, they are willing to fail. Entrepreneurs aren’t just blind risk takers. They take calculated risks, they mitigate risks, and they prepare for them. Even with preparation there is a possibility of failure, but an entrepreneur should not be afraid of failing. They should be afraid of never trying.
3. Willingness to take ownership and responsibility
The word entrepreneur has its roots in the French word, entreprendre, meaning “one who undertakes.” An entrepreneur undertakes a venture or an initiative and dedicates herself to it. She takes ownership and responsibility. An entrepreneur drives something from beginning to end doing whatever it takes to make it succeed and takes all responsibility for the outcome.
To budding entrepreneurs and university graduates looking to start businesses of their own our advice is to hone your entrepreneurial mindset, even if you are doing it within the relative safety of your day job. You can be entrepreneurial in your job by taking on more responsibility, driving things end to end, and by offering and implementing new ideas. There is always a risk that your ideas may not work out, or that your superiors at work may not heed your suggestions, but that should not keep a true entrepreneur from trying.