Mission-orientated, adaptable, and bold. What attributes do entrepreneurs have in common?
Tech entrepreneurs are born leaders. From an early age, they bring people together with a common mission, never content with the status quo, always curious and questioning, restless, and discontent, relentless in their pursuit of something better, that could one day change the world.
My entrepreneurial journey began when I was 16 in Saxony, demoralised by an education system that was unfit for purpose. Since no one was doing anything about it, I decided to shake things up, on behalf of the other kids and myself, whose potential was being underserved.
From that experience, I had a taste for what it means to be an entrepreneur — having a mission, and being driven to ensure that a problem is solved. I don’t necessarily think entrepreneurs have to be profit orientated, as long as they are trying to make a difference in the world by bringing people together under one banner. It is this mission focus that defines an entrepreneur.
Is it in the genes?
I was asked recently if I think entrepreneurs can be taught. And, that’s not an easy question, as most things are a combination of nature and nurture, however, I fully endorse Brigitte Mohn, member of the executive board of Bertelsmann Stiftung and member of the supervisory board of Bertelsmann, who said to me recently that:
“We could do more to encourage curiosity and inventiveness much more strongly at an early age in our educational institutions.”
If we teach kids in school how to be entrepreneurs and have courses dedicated to building businesses, I’m sure we would see a lot more business-people in Germany, which we desperately need.
As part of the research process for FightBack the book, we interviewed dozens of dynamic entrepreneurs and gleaned invaluable insight into the DNA that defines them. Apart from possessing an ability to inspire people to follow them, entrepreneurs, we discovered, tend to have at least five attributes in common.
- A sense of mission. Tech entrepreneurs feel an urgent need to make a difference and have an impact. Money, for sure, is important, but it’s always a secondary motivation. They want to change and improve the world — or at least their corner of it.
- Boldness. They don’t just accept risk. They like it. It’s a thrill for them. That’s not to say they are like blackjack players in a casino, but they relish the speed and unpredictability of building a business from scratch.
- Decisiveness. They make things happen fast and their ambition is like solving a Rubix cube on a rollercoaster, it’s not easy, but it’s possible.
- Adaptability. They learn by doing — by trying and failing and changing course without regrets. Successful tech entrepreneurs don’t wait until they can be certain of success. They know where they need to get to and there may be a master plan, but if it’s not working, they’ll do something different. When the tide turns they react quickly, holding no emotional attachment to decisions made in the past.
- Attention to detail. They back up the big vision with nitpicking, nuts-and-bolts knowledge of everything that’s going on: how, when and why. You will be amazed out how much an entrepreneur will know about even the technical side of the business, holding court with engineers and product developers. Because when you run a business, you are responsible and sometimes that is a heavy burden to bare, but when you are passionate in your pursuit of a goal, you wouldn’t want it any other way.
I was honoured to have worked with so many talented individuals, who were so honest and open about their entrepreneurial experiences, which are included in FightBack, the book. It humbled me that so many amazing people contributed to the book and it proves to me that the Fightback movement is something that people are as passionate as I am about.