An Empirically Based Approach towards the Definition and Skills of an Entrepreneur
>> Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
If you would like to know the answer to the question, what is an entrepreneur you will likely get a different answer from each person you ask. Each different answer could very well be right. The managerial literature is discussing this topic since many years and it seems that no correct answer can be found.
However, I asked Martin Fröhlich, co-founder of paperc and Torsten Oelke, author of the book “Stars des Internets” in order to get a modern point of view.
>> „My son is now an ‚entrepreneur‘. That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.“ ( Ted Turner, AOL)
Many people have the dream of working for themselves and starting their own business, truly escaping “the slavery of life”. But as described in my last blog post, every entrepreneur needs to get pregnant once in life in order found a new enterprise. Cantillon (1755) once said, that in the business world an entrepreneur is the one that decides to take on the risk of beginning a new venture. Instead Schumpeter (1911) sees the entrepreneur as an innovator. In class we have discussed the topic too and I have created a mind map in order to illustrate the characteristics of an entrepreneur.
Of course there are more trials at defining the entrepreneur ( Kirzner,1971 and Casson,1982 and many more) but no common definition exists nowadays.
>> Who is an entrepreneur ? is the wrong question
That’s why we can’t find the perfect answer, said William B. Gartner who has discussed this point in his article „Who is an entrepreneur? is the wrong question“ in 1988 and criticized McClelland for his Trait Approach (1961), because it has focused on the person of the entrepreneur, searching for characteristics that make one so instead of doing research that focuses on what the entrepreneur does (behavioral approach). For more information about the Trait Approch, please download my document at the end of this post.
>> The modern entrepreneur: A philosophical coffee with Martin Fröhlich
A few days ago I interviewed Martin Fröhlich from PaperC at the NH Hotel in Berlin,Mitte in order to find out if the Trait Approach influences founders even 50 years later after being discovered.
First of all I asked Martin in general what characteristics an entrepreneur needs to have.
He said: “When you set up your own business you don’t necessarily have all the answers, and you don’t need them. What you do need, however, is the drive and motivation to find out new information.”
Later on I asked Martin to select the chief motives for founding his own company from a variety of points I gave him. What he did not know was the fact, that there were a few points which are based on the Trait Approach 😉
Here is the result:
It is quite interesting that he gave 0% to the aspect ‘family tradition’, even all of his family members are self-employed, he told me.
I have collected a few information from Shapero, Sokol and Goebel who did some research about the function of the family as a role model and created the following graphic:
Even if Martin does not see any parallels he definitely belongs to the 65% of founders, where both parents are self-employed, because Huuskonen stated in 1992:
“Background factors give potential entrepreneurs a set of values, knowledge, attitudes and abilities that effect their orientation on the career path. If there is previous nearness to entrepreneurship, it seems to have a strong positive influence on the likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur.” (Huuskonen, 1992, Model of ‘Becoming an Entrepreneur‘, S. 174)
Furthermore Martin selected the need of independence (Unabhängigkeit) and the locus of control (Weltverbesserer) as the main criteria for being self-reliant; points that belong to the Trait Approach 😉 It is worth a click to see what the entrepreneurship scientist Dennis De found out in his survey from 2005.
>> Not a coffee, but small talk with Torsten Oelke
At our last EMF Mahlzeit I asked Torsten Oelke to name three qualities a successful entrepreneur needs to have and he said:
“All roads lead to Rome and there are a lot important characteristics entrepreneurs must have. But top priority is to have passion, passion and again passion.”
What he associates with passion is having the drive and the strong will to reach the goal.
>> The raw material from which startups are made are entrepreneurs
The reason for the diverse number of answers to this topic stems from the fact that each individual that is an entrepreneur has different qualities and reasons for being an entrepreneur. Even if the Trait Approach is called old-fashioned it got obvious that some qualities are still present nowadays.
If the “Big Five” personality attributes – extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience – provide the measures of the entrepreneur’s personality, will be discussed by my colleague Warrior-Neo in his next article.
Last but not least I want to say thank you to Martin Fröhlich for the nice time we had together, to Mr. Ripsas who talked about this special topic during our lessons and to feuerherz, who inspired me with her blog post “ Was ist das Interessante an Entrepreneurship”.
>> Download my information sheets about the
– Trait Approach
– Big-Five Model
– De, Dennis; Entrepreneurship, Pearson Studium (2005), Kapitel 2.2
– Klandt, Heinz; Gründungsmanagement: Der Integrierte Unternehmensplan,Oldenbourg,
-Zumholz, Holger; Wege in die Selbstständigkeit, DUV, 1. Auflage, 2001
– Hao Zhao/ Scott E. Seibert; The Big Five Personality Dimensions and Entrepreneurial Status: A Meta- Analytical Review, Textauszug, 2006
– Robert Baron/ Gideon D. Markman; Beyond social capital: How social skills can enhance entrepreneurs success
Angebote für Gründertests unter: www.ebs-gruendertest.de
Picture 1 – Glühbirne: http://ilcantone.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/idea-216×300.jpg
Picture 2-5: Privat, eigene Erstellung
Picture 6 – Hr. Oelke: http://www.foerderland.de/typo3temp/pics/d7364b56eb.jpg