Entrepreneurship is a condition affecting many individuals, moving them from what are traditionally recognised safe and secure environments, full time employment with guaranteed pay and conditions, into a world of disorder, uncertainty and worry. Why then, is this phenomenon gripping so many people and moving them into the start-up arena?
To consider this we must understand what is meant by entrepreneurship in this context. It is the process of starting a business, creating a business model, and implementing the operations needed to realise the concept. To this end, the entrepreneur is responsible for the success or failure of the venture. Furthermore, the term entrepreneur has implied qualities including leadership, initiative, innovation, team-building, risk-taking, and management. The qualities listed are illustrative, but they do demonstrate the diverse nature of the entrepreneur, and what may be needed to move towards, and actualise, an idea.
This has also given rise to the notion of the entrepreneurial mindset. This refers to the state of mind which orientates individuals towards entrepreneurial activities, meaning that they are often drawn towards opportunities, innovation and new value creation. There is also an ability to take calculated risks, accepting the realities of change and uncertainty.
Whilst many individuals possess some, or all, of these attributes, consideration is needed in regard to the risk-taking qualities of the entrepreneur. They are willing to put their career and financial security on the line in the name of an idea, spending time as well as capital on an uncertain venture. This is arguably the element of entrepreneurship that causes the most difficulty for many people, as the sacrifice often outweighs the potential rewards.
Why then is entrepreneurship increasingly popular? Whilst undoubtedly there is a risk factor, which cannot be totally accounted for, the ability to be one’s own boss, able to take and decline work as you see fit, is almost an irresistible draw. Add to this research showing that those taking control of their future, in regard to business opportunities, are happier, the rationale seems clear. Furthermore, there are the potential financial incentives that entrepreneurship can bring about, which in turn can lead to a brighter future. Moreover, entrepreneurship is an important part of an economic growth model, and is studied as part of microeconomics, a branch of economics that studies the behaviour of individuals, and small impacting organisations in making decisions on the allocation of limited resources.
Nevertheless, the concerns relating to entrepreneurship cannot be ignored, nor can the behaviours that often occur when people become entranced with an entrepreneurial endeavour. The psychological aspects of this have been studied; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the phrase flow, which occurs when an individual forgets about the outside world and focuses obsessively on their new venture. Motivation is another cornerstone of entrepreneurship and can parallel the intensity of the flow concept. Research suggests that the concept of normalization, by Maria Montessori, can be compared to flow as it is a state that includes lengthy periods of intense concentration. It is this extreme focus that can create not only innovation, but also isolation and neglect of the wider requirements of a business venture.
Whist it is clear that there is a need for high levels of motivation and focus, this can have a negative effect on those around the entrepreneur if they negate their responsibility to the wider concern of the business, and the associated people who work for them. Entrepreneurship can have a more singular viewpoint for a business person, the achievement of the activity can be all consuming and create a position where an entrepreneur does not reflect on the business functions needed to make the activity a reality, and by doing this they can alienate the workforce and those who try to work as part of the entrepreneurial scheme.
Those bitten by the entrepreneurial spirit must remain aware of the potential single mindedness that can occur if a wider set of knowledge, experience and skills are not engaged in the pursuit of the business venture as a whole.
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