LANSING, Mich. — We often hear the term “entrepreneurial mindset” but what does it really mean and why is it important? As our youth look toward their future and identify career options, it is helpful for them to consider their entrepreneurial mindset.
In the workforce we find two broad categories of people; entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. In very general terms they can be considered the business owners and their employees. But, let’s take a closer look and consider the role having an entrepreneurial mindset plays in both groups.
We have become accustomed to the word entrepreneur. We can recognize the top ten characteristics an entrepreneur tends to have which include: a spirit of adventure, a strong drive to achieve, self -confidence, goal oriented, innovative and creative, persistent, having a positive attitude, initiative, and a strong sense of commitment. To begin a business, a person whose personality encompasses some, if not most, of these characteristics tends to have greater success. Entrepreneurs are visionaries and calculated risk takers. They have many skill sets that are required to get a business off the ground floor. Skills such as creative and critical thinking, team building, record keeping and financial management, strategic planning and goal setting, research and organization, and good decision making. These skills are necessary to build a business.
In comparison, the intrapreneur is the one working in the business. Good employability skills include good communication and critical thinking, ability to continue learning, positive attitude and taking responsibility, being flexible and cooperative. Employers today are asking more of their employees than in years past. They are looking for employees who are self-starters, who think creatively, who do not need to be micromanaged, who are team players and can take on leadership roles, who are communicators with strong presentation skills, who can negotiate and understand finances. Employees today are given more authority over their work within the business and therefore, these skill sets are just as or sometime more important than the technical skills their job requires.
As one can see the characteristics of both groups have quite a bit of overlap in today’s world of work. The ability to identify problems and find reasonable solutions is really the key component of the entrepreneurial mindset. This mindset is needed both for starting a business as the entrepreneur and in the day-to-day operations of running the business as the intrapreneur. The primary difference between the two groups is the level of risk taking.
It is not too soon to nurture this entrepreneurial mindset in students within the K-12 education system. Giving students the tools in which they can seek career options whether as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur based on their talents and interests will be key to their long-term success. Once they have an occupation in mind, they can research the post-secondary education required to attain their goal. Overall, a person who is well-equipped with a positive attitude, good communication skills and self-confidence will be ready for the world of work regardless of which group he/she belongs.
Marsha Madle is the Founder and Executive Director of talents2work which is a program designed to guide middle and high school students to occupations that fit their talents and interests. The program uses Generation E’s ® Biz Whiz 302 curriculum.