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The Golden Egg

A scientific approach on how to become a successful entrepreneur Over 60,000 copies sold in the Netherlands

Dr. Martijn Driessen


ISBN/EAN Title Subtitle Author Illustrator Translator Publisher NUR-code NUR-description Edition Illustrations Pages Language Appearance

: 978-90-811019-6-7 : The golden egg : A scientific approach on how to become a successful entrepreneur. : Driessen, Martijn : Houdijk, Marjolijn : den Holder, Greetje : Entrepreneur Consultancy BV : 800 : General business : First edition : J : 12,91,4 : English : Eboek: Epub, digital watermark, download / online Copyright Š 2014 Martijn Driessen

Published by Entrepreneur Consultancy Design and layout: Marjolijn Houdijk by No part of this publication may be reproduced and/or published by print, photocopy, micro lf or any other means without prior written permission of Entrepreneur Consultancy BV. While this book was written with great care, neither author nor publisher accept any liability for damages arising from any errors and/or inconsistencies in this book. 2

Index 4 6 10 16 18 23 27 32 38 44 50 56 60 61 63 66 67 80 86 88 94 98 100 106 107 108

Preface The Golden Egg in a eggshell: how to become a successful entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is HOT! Practical examples • Self-employed Alfonso • Business owner Dirk • Entrepreneur André • Entrepreneur Bettine 1 What is entrepreneurship? 2 When are you an entrepreneur? 3 What is a competence? 4 What constitutes the entrepreneurial competence? 4.1 Motivation: What do you really want? 4.1.1 Entrepreneurial motives: why do you want to be an entrepreneur? 4.1.2 What matters: Does it come from the inside or the outside? 4.2 Personal characteristics: Who are you truly? 4.2.1 Characteristics: What defines you? 4.2.2 Thinking styles: Which do you prefer? 4.3 Qualities: What can you do well? 4.3.1 The phases of a company 4.3.2 The early phase: When you have just started 4.3.3 The mature phase: When your company has grown 4.4 Knowledge: Do you know what other people know? Entrepreneur Scan About the author Feedback




Preface This book discusses entrepreneurship. What is entrepreneurship and what do you need for it? Entrepreneurship is a subject that fascinates me and keeps me busy. Over 17 years ago, I took my first steps into entrepreneurship with my first product: the Entrepreneur Scan, in short: E-Scan. I was obsessed with the idea then and I still am today. The idea does not want to let go of me. It is my mission: developing entrepreneurship. This book is a concrete product of that. With this book, I challenge your entrepreneurship. When I recall my entrepreneurship, both successes and failures, I simultaneously get goose bumps and shivers down my spine. It has been a wonderful time: not always fun, but certainly educational. I recall all the people who have helped me, but also all the people who have opposed me. It has made ​​me stronger. With this book, I hope to help you with your entrepreneurship and to show you how you can develop it yourself. Many people have helped me write this book. I am grateful to all for their time and effort in the creation of this book.

Martijn Driessen Holland, 2014


Who do you see in the mirror?






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In a nutshell...

In a nutshell

The Golden Egg in a eggshell: how to become a successful entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is seeing and exploiting opportunities through one’s own company or within a (larger) company with which you create value, for yourself as well as for others. Value entails much more than just money. It is about how satisfied the customers are. Creating value does not necessarily mean that you have to start and run your own business. Creating value is also possible when you work within a corporation – we call this intrapreneurship. If you run a business on your own account and risk, you are a business owner. If you generate your own income and have no further ambition to grow or to be responsible for the income of others, you are self-employed. However, if you do have the ambition to grow, to take on challenges and to take others along for the ride, you are an entrepreneur, or “solopreneur.” Being an entrepreneur or solopreneur implies a nature of being entrepreneurial – having and showing a set of competencies that support your dreams and success. You can use competencies like market awareness, creativity, flexibility, the ability to take risks, dominance and perseverance, for example, to satisfy yourself and your customers. Therefore, the most important question that you need to answer is ‘are you entrepreneurial enough for the success you desire?’ In short, you need to follow four steps to become a successful entrepreneur: Step one The first and most important step is to be motivated to become a successful entrepreneur, whatever successful may mean to you. It all has to do with your inner motivation to become what you have always dreamed of becoming. What drives you? What makes you tick? What is your inner passion? Whatever you want, you must have a clear vision and a constantly burning fire to achieve that goal. Step two The second step is to start envisioning how to achieve your goal. At least think of what your first step will be. Do not think too long. Even if you cannot see the whole road yet, start with the first step. Every long journey starts with a first step. So get going, and keep going, as you plan your next step(s) along the road. Step three There are many paths to success, because you are unique and so is your path to success. The best tip that I can give you is to find your own path. Keep your eyes and ears wide open, but always keep your focus on the goal. Listen to people – especially to your customers – and try to let that benefit your business. Be market-aware and be creative in meeting their changing demands. Be flexible, but always stay in control, and keep your independence for what matters to you. Stay true to your inner beliefs, but get help where others outperform your weaknesses. 8

Step four The fourth step is the most difficult step. Many diversions, distractions, pitfalls, setbacks and disappointments will arise on your way to success. The hardest part is persevering. To maintain confidence in yourself and your endeavors, take risks when you doubt your way forward, dare to get help, and meet people who can and will help you communicate your vision. Believe me; setbacks will hit you (too). To overcome these, you will need to go back to step one. Remember why you are doing this, because if you do not, no one else will! For a popular television program called 100% entrepreneur, we have tested more than 8,000 business owners via In summary, the following picture arose:

The 100% entrepreneur: Uses one’s powers of manipulation Creates vision Is (too) critical Works purposefully Likes to organize Sees problems as challenges Takes criticism personally Gets on well with people Wants to be the leader of a team Knows how to make others enthusiastic Is at one’s best when things run smoothly and orderly Is a pain-in-the-ass when things do not run smoothly Continuously thinks about the goals to reach In short, an entrepreneur is a dreamer, who puts vision into practice.

Entrepreneurship is about seeing opportunities (eyes open), reflecting upon them (eyes closed) and exploiting them (euro sign), not only by creating value for yourself, but also for others; that is the big smile of entrepreneurship Dr. Martijn Driessen


climb up

that hill

Entrepreneurship is hot!

Entrepreneurship is hot!

Entrepreneurship is hot! The world is increasingly more interested in entrepreneurship. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur is appealing to a growing number of people. A global report of the General Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 shows that roughly two out of three people see starting a business as the perfect career switch and the status of successful entrepreneurs is overall high too. The important part that SMEs play in the provision of jobs is highlighted. SMEs are a country’s employment engine. The role of the entrepreneur in a company’s success is increasing and so is research into that topic. What factors contribute to the success of a company when it comes to the personality and behavior of the entrepreneur? This question is worth considering, not just for the entrepreneur or the person who wants to become one, but also for organizations and companies focusing on entrepreneurs. Banks assess a (starting) entrepreneur on one’s business plan. The entrepreneur will also be assessed, which is usually done using that elusive “gut feeling” though. Besides your “visible” business plan, you will be tested on your “invisible” entrepreneurship. Without a doubt, doing business is a matter of trust. If things do not click between you and the financier, there is no basis for mutual trust. The same is true for your customers and suppliers. When it comes to financing, starting entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage compared with more established entrepreneurs with years of experience. A starter is a bigger risk financially, as one has no proven track record. For persuading your bank, it is therefore essential that you have entrepreneurial skills at your disposal. Even if you do not intend to use bank financing (about 20% of starting entrepreneurs use a bank loan), it is important to know how to persuade those around you. You can only do that if you are prepared to assess your own behavior. That is just as true for a starting entrepreneur as for an existing business owner. In general, the personal development of an entrepreneur is not the same as the (business) development of the company. The weaknesses of the entrepreneur are the potential pitfalls for the development of the company. Hence, recognizing and understanding your personal weaknesses is important for the growth of your company. Accepting these weaknesses may prevent your company from progressing in the wrong direction. Only then, you can determine a successful strategy that complements or compensates for your weaknesses.


Know Yourself! In order to complement your entrepreneurial skills, it is essential to know yourself. The main question is: how do you get to know yourself and find out whether entrepreneurship suits you if you have never before set up a business? About 50% of all people who set up a business quit within 5 years, either because of bankruptcy or because they decide to discontinue the company. Apparently, being an entrepreneur has not given them what they wanted. Bankrupt enterprises cost taxpayers lots of money. This gives even more reason to think about your entrepreneurship carefully, whether you are just starting or have started some time ago. Entrepreneurship is fantastic. This fascinating topic is the subject of many books. Many books deal with the business side, too few with the personal side of entrepreneurship – the man or woman concerned: the entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you will have to live up to the ideas in your head. You will have to achieve what you have written in that perfect business plan. You are the most important success factor. Therefore, knowing what your weaknesses and strengths are is essential to your enterprise, not just for yourself but for others as well. Even if you start as a one-man band, you still need others to help you with your enterprise. You cannot do everything yourself. Make sure that you pick the right people to help you. Can you develop your entrepreneurial skills or can others help you with that? How will you do that? How do you recognize someone else having the skills that you lack and will you continue to work together in the long run? Many entrepreneurs starting out together quit after a while, because various factors make it impossible for them to work together. This book is for starting entrepreneurs, existing business owners and those who want to become entrepreneurs, such as students or employees. Of course, this book offers new and practical insights for career advisors, bank managers, teachers, policy makers, etc. In short, this book is for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, in how to test it, and in how to develop your skills. With this book, you will get an insight into the psychology of the entrepreneur and the personal skills needed for success. The depths of the soul of the entrepreneur are unraveled. You can check for yourself whether you are an entrepreneur. Furthermore, the definition of entrepreneurship and the difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur are described in detail. This book shows what business is all about when you look at the personal side of it: entrepreneurial competence. You are the golden egg. The secret to success. It covers who you have to be, what you can do, what you need to know, how you evaluate and, finally yet importantly, how you present


Entrepreneurship is hot!

yourself while evolving into an enterprising entrepreneur. Furthermore, retired entrepreneurs explain how they have conquered in business, their successes and failures, how competent they are, how they have benefitted from their stronger and weaker competences, what qualities have made them successful, and what qualities have not. The core of this book The core of this book is based on the extensive doctoral research I have conducted at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Entrepreneurial competence has formed the foundation of my research, which consists of four elements: • Motivation • Characteristics • Qualities • Knowledge I have examined the relationship between these elements and success, in which “success” is seen as (at least) letting the company continue. For this book, I have spoken to several entrepreneurs who told me about their successes and their failures. Some of them tell wonderful stories of going from being a millionaire to being broke and back to being a millionaire again. I connect their positive and negative experiences as entrepreneurs to their characteristics and qualities in order to determine what characteristics and qualities have contributed to their success as well as their failures. How well have they brushed up their self-knowledge, and how honestly have they looked in the mirror? Have they sought and found compensation for their weaknesses? I answer these questions in this book, which will provide a deeper insight into the psychology of the entrepreneur as well as a mirror for your own entrepreneurship and path to success! The structure of this book Four entrepreneurs will share their successes and failures, and they will explain what qualities and characteristics have contributed to their success, but more importantly, what qualities and characteristics have not. Their identities are not revealed, but their entrepreneurial spirit and enterprise are. After that, I will give you the definition of entrepreneurship, describe the entrepreneur, and describe one’s characteristics and qualities in detail. What are the motivations for starting a business? What makes a business good? Is it an adventure? Are you an entrepreneur because you are frustrated and exasperated? These questions are important, because they determine your actions when things do not work out the way you want them to. Will you pull through or will you do something else that you like? What characteristics and qualities are important? What qualities should an entrepreneur use in the various phases of the company? How can you develop yourself? Finally, what knowledge is needed in entrepreneurship?


Two parts This book contains two parts. The first part will be about the practical stories of business owners, self-employed individuals, and successful entrepreneurs. This is the easiest part to read, which is why I start with it. The second part is background information, but it is as short as possible and written in a simple manner. It is important to understand what entrepreneurship is and which competences are needed to become successful. For readability, the theory is enlivened with entertaining anecdotes, explanations, examples from practice, etc. These can be recognized easily with the symbols below.





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Explana ti o n



Resea rch

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the limit anym


You can go much further!

more Practices


Practical examples Self-employed Alfonso Alfonso is 41 years young and has started his company at the age of 33, when the internet reached fever pitch. Alfonso lives with his partner in the north of the country, is not married and has no children. Based on the Entrepreneur Scan (discussed later in this book), the entrepreneurial profile of Alfonso is as follows: need for achievement flexibility

salesperson: 6%

need for autonomy

manager: 25%

pioneer: 13%


need for power

risk taking

social orientation

market awareness

self belief

specialist: 56%


profile alfons

norm profile professional services





“The economy was only going forward; the opportunities were endless.” Alfonso recalls the time he started his company with some nostalgia. “I was working at a company that designed and realized websites. We sat there with nine men and women, most of them very young, and work literally came pouring in. It is not as if I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, or that I was waiting for the right time so to speak. I do not come from a family of entrepreneurs. However, two friends of mine are self-employed, in a very different way: one is organizational consultant and the other a jewelry store. The similarity between the two is that they are both (still) successful.”

Need for achievement Alfonso did not have the dream of becoming an entrepreneur. It was not encouraged from childhood, but not discouraged either. Hence, it says something about the performance orientation of Alfonso. The motivation to start a business was not strong, and did not become stronger either. The words of Alfonso do not speak of a real desire to make something of it. Slightly stoically and with nostalgia, he recalls his start as an entrepreneur. There was no fighting spirit in him to make something of it, to be successful. Several companies have gone bankrupt before they were successful. That says something about their motivation, about their strong desire to perform well.


“There was not a particular moment when I suddenly saw the light and wanted to be self-employed. It happened slowly, partly due to the tremendous growth of the Internet market, and partly because I was not happy with how my boss treated his staff, including me. It was expected of us that we worked very hard, that we continued working in the evenings and weekends as needed. Do not think there was any appreciation for that, not in cash, and not with words either. That is frustrating, because you do want to feel appreciation for all your efforts.” “Things got going because of the stories of my friends about their successes and because I started talking about ‘my own business’ with a colleague at some point. We talked about it more and more, and made each other enthusiastic. The plans gradually became more concrete and inevitably, the moment arrived that we decided on a start date. We made a business plan while we still had our jobs. We wanted to start a company that would help everyone on their way on the Internet, both individuals and businesses. We wanted a kind of accessible store, where you could walk in with all your questions about Internet. How do I get a connection, which devices do I need, is a website something for me? And obviously, we wanted to build that website.” “Right before we were to write our letter of resignation, my colleague dropped out. He apparently did not have the courage and started to apply for jobs. I persevered and started on my own. The trouble was that I could no longer start the way I had imagined. It had to happen on a smaller scale. Luckily, I was able to borrow money from my family, which was enough to buy a proper computer and the necessary programs. That is how I became an entrepreneur.”

Motivation Alfonso clearly had externally driven motives to start his own business. It was not a deep-rooted desire; his annoying boss and successful friends actually made him consider it. In other words, the environment exposed him to entrepreneurship. However, your companion suddenly quitting and you deciding to continue, that does say something of Alfonso. Nevertheless, because it was not a long-cherished wish or an internally felt desire, the question is whether he should have done it. After all, he could not even start the way he had imagined.

“After the start, I quickly had some assignments. They were not very big ones, but sufficient to provide my own income. The orders came from different directions. I could not afford to say ‘I only cater to that audience.’ I preferred grabbing everything that came along. Especially in the first year, I was lucky that there was another assignment after each assignment. Where they came from? Purely by word of mouth, I did not do anything with advertising. Well, I once placed an advertisement in some kind of business guide, but I should not have done so in hindsight. It costs a lot of money and it eventually did not pay the bills.”



“After the first year, the number of assignments to build a website was declining strongly. The so-called “Internet bubble” burst and everyone suddenly became much more cautious. I definitely suffered from that, because I just had too little work to provide a decent income at that time. I had to look twice at every penny. How do you get assignments at such a moment? There were competitors who worked with students who built websites for incredibly low prices. I could not compete with them of course, so what was I supposed to do? For the big boys in the market, I was obviously not a competitor either. They could accomplish things technically that I could never accomplish by myself.”

Market awareness Alfonso has not formed a picture of his market or of the needs of his customers. Without vision on the market and his future, he has surrendered to chance. This usually works out in the beginning, as you see in more start-ups, because you still are relatively new and people grant you a job. Nevertheless, it goes downhill after a while, as it is no longer new. For Alfonso too, he faces the harsh reality. In such case, if you do not have a focus or target, there is not much you can do. It is then no use advertising either; indeed, it is a waste of money.

“All in all, it was clear to me that my services were at that awkward age. When I was going through a longer period without jobs, I met a business consultant, which was probably not a coincidence. In the same period, I could borrow some money again, so I could continue for a few months. I figured I could take some time to orient myself again. However, I have had many conversations with the consultant, but I cannot say that I was beginning to see the light quickly. Yes, over time, it became clear that I would have to focus on a niche market. I would have to become really good at making websites for local authorities for example, or sites for movie theaters and movie houses. Actually, everything was okay, as long as I was focusing.”

Knowledge Precisely because it was not going well, Alfonso decided to talk to a business advisor. Focus was the most important advice. Alfonso actually knew this, but he has not acted upon it from the beginning. Now it falls short, and he has remained invisible to the market at the same time. A business advisor cannot make chocolate from something that is hardly cocoa (yet) either. It first has to be cocoa. Only when it is high quality and pure cocoa, it can be turned into chocolate. Alfonso must become exceptionally good at something. The problem for Alfonso is how he then applies that knowledge to his own situation. Only in retrospect, it was obvious that he could not provide his own income by only building websites, no matter how easy accessible. He could have seen this coming from the beginning.


“Because of these consultations, it was obvious to me that I could not or hardly provide my own income by building websites. Guiding organizations wanting to work with a web builder was a fairly unexplored area though. I could formulate a list of demands for them, assist them in choosing a builder, and guide the actual construction. I had already done something like this once, although the final phase of that job was eventually dropped, because they decided to do that internally. Still, how do you approach something like that? I did not have money to advertise, so it had to come from word-of-mouth advertising mainly. In hindsight, I can say that I have done too little to get new customers. For example, I did not do much with networking. How could I? I can hardly go to all kinds of parties without being invited. Moreover, I hate it: all those people together trying to find work. That does not suit me; I do not feel at home there.”

Social orientation The social orientation of Alfonso is insufficient. He does not like parties and certainly not being there to promote his business or rather himself. Networking is a dirty word in his eyes. Nevertheless, as he said, his business runs on word-of-mouth advertising. After all, this provided him with jobs at the start and thus revenue. Now, he isolates himself and he can only hope for a good product that sells itself, or that his customers bring in new customers.

“What else I have done to turn the tide? Well, now that you ask me directly... I started fixing up my own website. A friend that is a designer redesigned my corporate design, on which I based my new website. I have obviously modified the texts too, putting emphasis on advice and guidance. However, visitors do not come to your website naturally, so it is not as if the jobs came pouring in. I have also made ​​some websites via my own network. Unfortunately, that was for small businesses and for people in the arts sector. That means a small budget and little income for me.” “At this moment, I am applying for jobs. I have to, because I need money. Even that is not easy, because there are not so many jobs, especially not in the sector that I like. If this applying does not work out, I honestly do not know what to do next. I prefer to remain self-employed, but I do not know how I can bring in enough orders. If I have to take the last few years as a benchmark, it does not work out anyway. It would be best if I can work somewhere two or three days a week, for example, and still build some websites the other days. What are my chances? I do not know. I just know that I have to, otherwise it is over.”



Perseverance Alfonso does have perseverance. He has proven that when his partner suddenly dropped out during preparation. Although Alfonso could not start the company the way they had envisioned together, he persisted. Even now, when that has become more difficult and the survival chances of his company are smaller, he prefers to continue. He might have to take an additional job for a while to do so, but that does not mean it is the end. It is not over until he quits. He might even get new inspiration and motivation by doing something else for a while – because he missed this at the start – and put his back to it once refreshed and full of courage. He would not be the first who eventually became a millionaire because of it. Alfonso is self-employed. After all, he provides his own income, whether it is going well or not. He has done so for a number of years with ups and downs. He did not want more than that either. Moreover, he did not see how he could achieve that. There is nothing wrong with that. If you do not want to grow, you should not be judged for it. However, you cannot call him enterprising, and thus an entrepreneur.

It all starts with a dream!


Practical examples Business owner Dirk Dirk is now 54. Together with his wife Anna, he has been running the company for over 15 years. Dirk and Anna are married and have two daughters. Both daughters do not want to be an entrepreneur; this they know for sure. Dirk and Anna live in Poland and they are planning to stay and run their business for a long time. Even though the company has gone through difficulties, they still enjoy it. Based on the E-Scan (discussed later in this book), the entrepreneurial profile of Dirk looks as follows:

need for achievement flexibility

need for autonomy


pioneer: 56%

salesperson: 25%

need for power

risk taking

social orientation manager: 6%

market awareness

self belief

specialist: 13%


profile dirk

norm profile general





“I have had many different jobs before I started for myself. My first job was the helper of the milkman, who not entirely coincidentally was my father. After many detours, I finally ended up at a large consulting firm focused on environmental and construction advice, which means much technique. However, they also had their own design department, which is where I ended up. I was lucky that they were flexible about taking up training. In that period, I studied graphic design at the art academy. I learned a lot more than I could use in my job, because one did not get a lot of creative freedom there. A studio head knew exactly what was right and what was not, so all there was to do for me was the executive part.�



Creativity Dirk has a lot of creativity, but that only came out later. Helping his father with the farm and the many detours have demanded nothing of his creativity. Would such a creative person as him not come up with that himself? No, that does not have to be the case, just as it was not with Dirk. Sometimes, an environment can be paralyzing to your talents, so you leave them untapped and you are not challenged to use them. Only when the right environment was there, Dirk tapped his creativity and he took up creative training after hours. This was one important moment though, because the basis of his workmanship was in the training. However, workmanship is no entrepreneurship.

“Over time, I noticed that we were doing less and less work. Consequently, I was not surprised when the studio was closed. I was obviously thrown out of work, which for me was the time to start for myself. I was a bit older; where do they want you then? Everyone is looking for the so-called ‘young guns,’ which I was not anymore. I am a typical example of a ‘forced starter.’”

Motivation Dirk is forced starter and thus externally driven to entrepreneurship. It was not a deeper desire, something he had always wanted. Even his father has not served as an example. Had he no internally driven motive at all? His creativity will have played a role in his choice to become an entrepreneur, as well as his need for freedom. This can be traced back to his need for independence: taking control of his ideas instead of just executing what his boss likes. This is not the same as independence, because that is not prevailing in Dirk. He has no strong need to be on his own; on the contrary, he loves being and working together with others. This can be seen later on.

“I started writing a business plan. You are forced to think about what you want to do and how you want to do it. This has put me on the right track. My father has helped me, because he had entrepreneurial experience after all. I already had a house with a room that I could easily turn into an office. Because my former employer gave me some jobs, the start was not really a problem. Well, I did not have money, so that had to be arranged. The bank was not really excited, but after much effort, I ended up with a little credit to buy some equipment. I was determined to start properly, with a professional look, not from a back room in a makeshift manner.” “I knew nothing about acquisition; I still do not by the way. I have therefore started very modestly; I created a folder in which I introduced myself, and I put it in the mailboxes of businesses and shops in my area. Afterwards, I called them to see if I could get an appointment. It worked! It has really been my only acquisition.


In the thirteen years that I am working, I have never done anything about it anymore. It has never been my ambition to have a large company. My wife and I run the company together. As long as we can live off of it, I think it is okay. We do work a lot with others, with freelancers who all have their own specialty. Teaming up with others suits me fine. I am stubborn, but I think every entrepreneur is. However, I do not have such a big ego that I cannot put it aside. There is always someone who can do things better than me. You should not insist upon doing it yourself in those cases; you should rather use the other person. Frankly, I do not have the courage to stand on my authority. I let myself be persuaded quickly and agree more quickly than I like. It has even cost me revenue. Because a partner wanted to have it all his way, a job we worked on together failed. We have not gotten the extra work that was promised us if we were to do a good job. I did not realize it at that time, but in retrospect, I felt like an idiot. Well, I will probably not team up with that partner anymore. Well, maybe if he comes with a very nice job. It might be a possibility, because he does it quite well and he has established quite a large business.�

Need for Achievement and Dominance Dirk has an average need for Achievement. He does have the desire to do things right and to do them a little better every time as well. Nevertheless, the company does not have to be big according to him. He does not set his goals high, so he can work on them relaxed. He enjoys the process, even more than the accomplishment of a higher goal. There is nothing wrong with that of course; he is successful if he reaches his goal, which is getting pleasure from the work. That pleasure is created partly by working with others. The good relationship with others is paramount. Yet his dominance plays tricks on him in this. He appears not to have the need to put his mark on something. He rather follows the other, even though he actually thinks it should be different. He has not had the ability to oppose it, or to make a choice. He is not even very particular with his own principles. He does not have the courage to take a position on that point either. He will probably work with the partner mentioned again, despite what happened. Stronger action had earned him more sales.

“I have always relied on my common sense and on my accountant, whom I have hired immediately after the start. I do like keeping the records: keeping track of hours, seeing whether a job has been profitable or not. That automatically makes you wiser. Oh well, maybe I have inherited that part from my father, who was always at home counting to see if things were going well.�



Thinking style of the Pioneer The thinking style of Dirk is pre-eminently that of a pioneer. This is reflected in his high score on creativity too. However, he indicates that he likes business administration. This fits the thinking style of a specialist better. This is correct, because it used to be different with Dirk. Dirk has gotten the hang of it, because the support of the bookkeeper has made him realize that this is an important aspect of doing business. However, blindly trusting your bookkeeper is not smart. One day, you might find out that your bank account has been plundered. Through practice, he has learned how to keep a large part of the records himself and, more importantly, how to use it for future decisions. Dirk might have done ​​little or no acquisition, but he has always ensured that customers paid on time, and that he timely scored new jobs with his existing customers the moment it appeared as though there was not going to be enough work. Now that is running a business in a controlled way.

“How it is that it has gone well without doing acquisition all these years? Maybe we have been lucky with the period in which we started. It is all much more businesslike now than ten years ago. I noticed that too, because price has become much more important for clients. The jobs no longer come in because you are such a nice guy, which previously was the case. I also think that we will soon be doing acquisition again for the first time since the start. Therefore, I am going to make another brochure, send it and making follow-up calls, as I did before. I wonder whether that still works today. Maybe I need to call that one partner that made us lose that nice job again.” “Oh, I do not really see myself as an entrepreneur. For example, I do not like the hard business world. Dressing neatly and smooth talking are not for me. I consequently mainly look for my contacts in the service industry.”

Dirk is a business owner. He has been running his own business with his wife for years, no matter how well or bad it is going. Yet they do not have the need or ambition for a large company. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. It is a choice, but you cannot really call them entrepreneurial. They are business owners, but not entrepreneurial.


Practical examples Entrepreneur André André is now 44 years young. He has started his first company just after finishing school. André has been married and has one son from that marriage. He now lives in South Africa with his new and younger girlfriend. They live in a beautiful house on the waterfront, which they clearly enjoy. Based on the Entrepreneur Scan (discussed later in this book), the entrepreneurial profile of André looks as follows:

need for achievement flexibility

need for autonomy


pioneer: 63%

salesperson: 13%

need for power

risk taking

manager: 6%

social orientation specialist: 19%

market awareness

self belief endurance

profile andré

norm profile hospitality





“My brother actually made sure that I became an entrepreneur. That was not really a success; for that matter, you could say that I made a false start. He had actually gone bankrupt with his company, but he wanted a new company nonetheless. He did have a good turnover, but the costs were too high. You could also say that he had too little turnover for the costs that he made. We then started together, but with the company on my name. We have kept that up for less than three years; then, the next bankruptcy was a fact. We did pay much attention to the costs, but we still made too little revenue. Still, I do not think it was the reason for the bankruptcy. We were not in agreement with each other, causing us to exploit (sales) opportunities insufficiently. I have personally experienced what it is like to end up being self-employed and bankrupt. You go bankrupt personally, so you literally have nothing.”



Risk taking André has a high risk appetite. His risk appetite is even slightly too high, though his brother scores even higher. Both did not see the risks of starting a business together. They have not even considered them. Of course, the advantage of this is that you simply start. Otherwise, they might never have started. Entrepreneurship is mostly just doing. Some naivety is healthy for entrepreneurship. You continue to see opportunities, which is where entrepreneurship starts anyway. The disadvantage is that you do not see the pitfalls and consequently, you fall for them. That has happened to André and his brother too, and it will happen more often. Yet André has learned from what went wrong the first time. The costs were too high, so they had to be controlled. That worked out, but André forgot to check whether he and his brother would be able to work together well. In retrospect, André realized that his brother only needed André for the purpose of continuing the previously bankrupt company in his name. André actually knew this beforehand, but the opportunity was staring at him.

“The worst thing was that you cannot start again in such a case. My trustee in bankruptcy wanted me to go into the welfare system, but I absolutely did not want that! Despite the bankruptcy, entrepreneurship attracted me and I wanted nothing more than to start over again. I thus moved to another country to set up a business there. I have traded in anything and everything, including computer equipment and sneakers, just to make sure I would pull through. Fortunately, that went very quickly and very well, so the bankruptcy case was closed soon. It even went so well that my wealth was estimated at a few million. A very different life came. I have led a loose life.”

Perseverance André has perseverance. A bankruptcy will always affect you adversely. If you really want something, you get it done. He did not want social welfare; he wanted to run a company. Entrepreneurship attracted him to such an extent that André moved to another country. Many others would have accepted the situation.

“I met my wife during that time. She was the manager of a restaurant and wanted to start her own business. We bought a run-down pub and turned it into a restaurant. We had some initial problems in the first year, but afterwards, there was no stopping it. Nevertheless, I am the type that likes something for a few years and then wants to do something else. Starting something in France seemed fun, so we sold the lot, the restaurant and our house, and we went looking for something decent.”


Flexibility André is flexible. It does not matter to him where he runs his business. Totally unhindered by any professional knowledge and experience, which his wife had, he buys a restaurant and masters the profession. He does so by primarily continuing to focus on the possibilities. André believes that something is possible, that he can realize it. The downside of his flexibility is that he is quickly bored with something and that he easily wants to work on a new idea. This might not be so annoying for him, but rather annoying for his environment.

“Finding something nice worked out, yet it ended up as a failure. We had our own money and we borrowed some extra to complete the financial part. However, when we were finally at the notary office in France, the amounts in the sales contracts were much higher than agreed. They probably thought that we would sign anyway.’ No way. We got up and drove back to the Netherlands. I actually thought that they would call me on the way, to tell me that it was all a misunderstanding, but that did not happen. So we ended up in the Netherlands with a bag of money and nothing else.” “After a few days, we were called by an acquaintance. He knew that a catering business was for sale at a large recreational lake. He wanted to know whether it was something for us. It turned out to be what you might safely call “long gone glory,” but we bought it anyway. We had to work very hard to open it for the summer season. We made it: we were able to receive the first guests in June. We did not know what we were in for. Work was pouring in and we were making so much money. If we were able to keep that up for a while, we would ‘naturally’ make it. However, that was not the case: it was literally dead quiet in September. That is when we understood why the business was for sale... Coincidentally, I met a man who lived at the end of our street. He had been the owner of a Michelin star restaurant and thought it would be nice to give us some help. As a volunteer, he has helped us turn our seasonal business into a restaurant that does just as well in winter as in summer. That is the kind of luck you need, I think, bumping into such a person at the right time.”

Effectiveness André has confidence. Well, buying “something” of long gone glory testifies to his risk appetite once again. It might also be this tension of doing something unknown or uncertain that he needs. Nevertheless, it is also a result of his confidence or belief in his own abilities to get things done. André is an optimist. He believed that there was a solution to the problem. Then he meets someone from the neighborhood who knows the solution. Coincidence? Meeting someone who can help him could be the result of André’s continuous belief in it. It might be hard to believe, but that is exactly what he did, causing André to find a solution.



“The restaurant was going really well, but our private life was not. My wife and I decided to break up, which also meant saying goodbye to the restaurant for me. I had me bought out and all I had (once again) was a car, my clothes and a bag of money. Meanwhile, I had invented something nice, which I put on the market together with a commercial partner. I also sold that patent to first take a sabbatical year and reflect on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The moment I ‘returned,’ someone who knew that a hotel was for sale called me. That is the way it goes. Once you are in that business, they know how to find you. Eventually, I bought that hotel and there is no stopping it now. Still, I am thinking about something else: a hotel in a different place or maybe something completely different. I like building things. For me, that is entrepreneurship: curiosity, deciding on things yourself, pushing your limits. I am also a survivor, I think. If you do not have the spirit to keep trying, I think you are not an entrepreneur. Nevertheless, you should also know when to stop and take your loss. Keep trying to me also means giving your opinion and taking a stand for it. That is not to say I always impose my own view. That is something else. I give people space to do things their own way.”

Dominance André is dominant. That sounds negative, but it is useful for an entrepreneur. Some call it pigheadedness. Anyway, it means standing up for your opinion and being willing to fight for it, or keep trying as André calls it. However, as with everything in life, anything with ‘too’ in front of it is not that good. The same goes for characteristics and qualities. If you are too dominant, it will start to work against you. People will find you bossy and annoying. That makes it important to find a balance between being dominant and submissive or accommodating. Sometimes, you need to contain yourself when you might otherwise keep trying or dominate. André has gradually learned this. He has learned from himself through others, which is how he managed to find a balance increasingly better. He wanted to learn, because he wanted to realize his vision (repeatedly). In short, there is one thing that has gotten André this far: by sheer doing, falling on his face, learning from it, and continuing.

Creativity André is creative. For every problem, he comes up with multiple solutions. Precisely the problems he faces make him think. Think about it: a run-down bar, a ramshackle catering business, an invention. He sees opportunities by being creative and coming up with solutions for the problems he faces. He saw the solutions in the problems and already envisioned how it should look. It was really just a matter of working on and executing what he had already conceived, so that everyone could see it. His wife initially did not want to buy the catering business at the recreational lake. She did not think it could work. However, the contagious enthusiasm of André persuaded her. After a while, André was bored again. Wanting to do something different is a disadvantage of a creative spirit. His wife did not feel like it anymore and still runs the restaurant.


AndrĂŠ is a true entrepreneur. He has run several and various businesses. He has made some companies big and ruined others. Yet he is always enterprising: after a bankruptcy, he has founded another company. Hence, he is an entrepreneur at heart. Whether he is a successful entrepreneur is a different matter. It is just what you define as successful.

Think outside your own box!



Practical examples Entrepreneur Bettine After her first job, Bettine started her first business. That was just after her 27th birthday. Now, she is married and has a daughter of five with her husband of the same age. Her husband also has his own business. They live near Madrid and they are not thinking about moving. Based on the Entrepreneur Scan (discussed later in this book), the entrepreneurial profile of Bettine is as follows:

need for achievement flexibility

need for autonomy


pioneer: 25%

salesperson: 19%

need for power

risk taking

social orientation

market awareness

self belief

specialist: 19%

manager: 38%


profile bettine

norm profile retail





“I wanted to be an entrepreneur from an early age. My father was not an entrepreneur. He was a civil servant, not really enterprising you might think. Still, I always thought it was a very enterprising man, maybe not so much in his work, but certainly in the afterhours. Therefore, I think I got it from him. We are quite similar. After all, you cannot be an entrepreneur in every profession. Anyway, I went to school first and I studied Management and Law. I honestly had no idea what exactly I wanted to do with that study, but I found it interesting. I must admit that studying pushed my desire to be self-employed into the background though. I first started to work at a large bank after my studies. I quickly encountered the limits of my manager. He wanted to keep me small, while I just wanted to grow. I could not stand this for a very long time. I have applied for a different position within the bank. I then got a manager with whom I got along well, who let me grow. Nevertheless, after a few years, I was missing something. I liked what I was doing, but it was not something of me. Entrepreneurship was bubbling up in me again.�


Motivation Bettine is highly motivated. As a little girl, she dreamed of her own company, while it was not encourage from childhood. However, a study could deter her from starting her own business. Her work, in which she could not grow fully and she missed something (the lack of individuality is the externally driven motive here), made her notice that she was not working on her childhood dream (internally driven motive).

“Entrepreneurship! I did not know what I wanted to start though. My own shop sounded good to me, but I had no idea what kind of shop. As I focused on what I really like, I knew: a bead store. The shop should be cozy with a nice atmospheric decor and customers should be able to design and assemble their own bead necklace. My dream was a chain of bead stores throughout the country. I was well prepared and had written a business plan. That is the advantage of my studies. Yet, the moment I actually had to go through with it – signing the lease – I choked. I began to doubt: what if it does not work out, what should I do then? Can I actually do this? What do I know about beads and entrepreneurship? I broke out into a cold sweat. My confidence fell to an even deeper level than it already was. I suffered from this more often. I decided to start it with someone else. It sounded good to a good friend of mine, Anna, and she did not have to think for long. We started together.” “The beginning was great. The company went well the first year and its revenue grew, even though I did not find that the most important thing. The feeling of freedom, just doing what you want, felt great. Of course, I had my duties: being in the shop, stocking, keeping the records, etc.; this is all part of it. This was what I wanted. I was really motivated and had energy for two. We got very positive reactions from our customers, who brought in new customers through word-of-mouth. The first few years, we did not take much income from it, but the prognoses were good. I kept track of those. I am an organizer for that matter, and I actually like bookkeeping. It allows you to see how your business is doing. You should know that as an entrepreneur, I think. If you cannot do it yourself or you do not like it, you should outsource it. You should not cut back on that, because it always pays for itself. Anna wanted to get a higher income from the company. I thought it was important that we were paying back the loan we had gotten from my parents and the bank as quickly as possible. Anna thought so differently (it appeared later that mostly her boyfriend thought so). We had differences of opinion and more followed quickly. Our collaboration became awkward, while I surely did most. She was good with customers and always knew how to create a warm atmosphere in the store, but I surely was the driving force. After I had talked to other people about what to do in such a situation, I mustered courage and made her a proposal. I was afraid it would end our friendship. After much bickering, especially with her boyfriend, I had to buy her out.



I thought the price was too high, given her efforts compared with mine. I thought it was unjustified, but saw no other choice. I actually still hate it. Our friendship is over too. It made me much more businesslike though.�

Independence and Effectiveness Bettine scored lower on independence. She did not score high on effectiveness either. Even though it was her dream, her idea and her preparation, the breakthrough only came when her friend Anneke participated. There is nothing wrong with starting a business with someone else. On the contrary, you often need others. Hence, a good business partner works conducive to the growth of the company. Nevertheless, for you to be able to work together well with someone, what or who works out? You have to make sure that you go together in a personal and business sense. In Bettine’s case, Anna was certainly not a match. Bettine actually felt that, but she was afraid to act accordingly. In personal terms, Anna was not as enterprising as Bettine; she uncritically followed Bettine in everything she suggested. You might expect that from an employee, but not from a (co-)entrepreneur. In business terms, Anna supplemented Bettine in nothing. Bettine did the purchasing, kept the records etc. and actually did the creative designs of necklaces as well. One can conclude that Anna was not the ideal partner, which has cost Bettine a lot of money and a friendship. She nonetheless saw it through and bought Anna out. Those ultimately are the dues she paid.

The key to succe



“I decided to focus on the growth of my own company. After all, my dream was a nationwide chain of nice beads stores. Initially, I ensured that my first store yielded a good return without having to be present myself. Only then, I started a second store in another city. I have even moved for that. My business is my main priority; I will do anything for it. Every time that store ran well, I started the next. I did not move every time though. I bought a nice car and so I drive to all the stores. Meanwhile, I have seven stores throughout Spain. I also have a webshop nowadays, which is going great. In the webshop, customers can design necklaces online; after that, we make them and mail them to the customers. We now have our regular clientele. Some even live in Japan and China, and have it sent there. I think that is so cool.”

Thinking style of the Manager-Pioneer Bettine mainly has the thinking style of a manager. She likes organizing and structuring the company. She might even prefer that to the creative element in the design of beaded necklaces. In a structured and planned way, she works on the growth of her business. She does so very controlled and sensible. The choice to work with salaried employees instead of franchise (co-owner of the store) also testifies to her thinking style of a manager. She likes to be in control, especially after her experience with Anna, who co-owned the store but did little work. A bead store is more than just having fun helping customers buy a necklace in the store.

“What are my plans for the future? I want to grow to 13 stores in the Netherlands within four years. It is not a franchise concept, as I do not really believe in that. For instance, every store is adapted to the local characteristics of the city. In some stores, we sell other necklaces, but the difference mainly lies in the various accessories. All colleagues are employed, and I am the sole shareholder. I am contemplating whether I want to go abroad, but I am actually leaning towards no. We already cover foreign demand in the webshop. I have plenty of other ideas, but I first want to focus on my current activities, before I dive into something else.”

Need for Achievement Bettine has ambition and vision. She is very performance-oriented and she would like to grow. With a clear and concrete vision in mind, she has mapped out her strategy. Its most important characteristic is that she has made ​​choices. She knows exactly what she does and does not want. That makes it easier to resist other opportunities and ideas. Freedom is the beauty of entrepreneurship, as Bettine and many other entrepreneurs say. The downside of this freedom is that entrepreneurs are inclined to seize any opportunity or to start working on every idea. Irrespective of the fact whether it is a good opportunity or a good idea, the main question is whether it fits within the vision that you have. Due to the clear vision that Bettine has, she can easily put ideas aside or postpone them. This way, she first realizes what she intended to realize, which is very smart businesswise.



“What have I learned from it and what tips do I have for starting business owners? I think it is important that you do what you truly like, because that creates the motivation to be able to see it through during tough times. Another important lesson I have learned is that you must rely on your own strength: your perseverance and creativity. If you are indeed motivated, you also learn to see things through and to be more creative. For instance, I was not very independent either. I often asked others what to do, while I already knew the answer. I was afraid to trust it. I was looking for confirmation, and still continued to doubt. I have stopped that habit. I have learned to trust myself much more. In that respect, entrepreneurship really offers the best school, because everything you do is reflected in your wallet immediately. I did not like that at all in the beginning, but I started seeing it as a game at some point. Entrepreneurship is a fun game. Just do it, and then think carefully about how you can do it even better. See if that which you had come up with actually works. That gives me a thrill every time.”

From self-employed to entrepreneur Bettine was highly motivated to be an entrepreneur. That internally driven motivation has proven important, especially at times when she had setbacks. Even though not every setback is described in the summary of the interview with her, she certainly had them at both personal and business level. She has learned to deal with them, which has made her stronger. She has learned from her mistakes, because she had a vision that she wanted to achieve. She would do anything for it. Was she already competent from the beginning, when she started the company? No. Actually, she did not score high on the major characteristics and qualities of entrepreneurship. Yet, through hard work and wanting to learn, especially by doing and reflecting (thinking about the steps you have taken afterwards and learning from them), she has become an entrepreneur: an enterprising entrepreneur. The dream of a chain of beads stores was there from the beginning, but she had the courage to (continue to) strive for this dream. As Walt Disney said it so beautifully: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Bettine is an entrepreneur. She has a clear vision of where she wants to go. She wanted to be an entrepreneur since childhood. She became truly entrepreneurial as she started a business and continued to challenge herself endlessly. Her strong entrepreneurial profile has helped with that.




Look at the world through different

s e l c ecta What is entrepreneurship? chapter 1

What is entrepreneurship?

1 What is Entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship is important for a society; if people embark on something, it means that new initiatives are developed to make life better, easier or more fun. Nevertheless, what is entrepreneurship exactly? Much has been written on entrepreneurship in the course of time and there are many different definitions. Here, I especially want to give my definition of entrepreneurship: what is it and what is it not? It is important for this book to use the same understanding for the characteristics and qualities, which are based on it and which are discussed in this book.

The society needs entrepreneurs. SMEs are the job engine of any economy. More than half is freelancer (self-employed). Nevertheless, is the freelancer an entrepreneur? Opinions differ on this. One at least provides one’s own income. One might help others that are self-employed with their income through one’s entrepreneurial attitude. That is not (yet) visible though.

Several researchers look at entrepreneurship from an ‘economic’ point of view. They define entrepreneurship as the creation of a new organization, or any person who founds a new business. Some researchers take a broader point of view and define entrepreneurship as entering new markets with existing or new products, or entering existing markets with new products. If you have knowledge of marketing, you recognize the growth strategy model in this. This model explains what strategy is best if you want to grow as an entrepreneur. Will you do so in an existing market or a new market? Will you do so with a new product or an existing product? Characteristic is that these strategies are focused on growth. Other researchers approach entrepreneurship from a psychological perspective. They describe entrepreneurship in a visual way:

“Entrepreneurship is the ability to create and build something from practically nothing. It is initiating, doing, achieving and setting up a company rather than taking over or managing an existing company. It is having a feeling for seeing opportunities where others see chaos and problems. It is the power to put together a team that complements or compensates the personal qualities. It is the knowledge about where the right tools and resources can be obtained (often owned by others) and to ensure that money does not run out when it is needed most. Finally, it is the willingness to take calculated risks both personally and financially - and to do everything possible to put the odds in one’s favor.”


In this vision, entrepreneurship is about creating something new and the behavior necessary to take advantage of it (eventually), although the latter relates more to the entrepreneur. I think the beauty of this definition is that it already becomes clear which personal characteristics come into play with entrepreneurship: • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Total dedication, determination and persistence Ambition and performance orientation Independency Creativity Goal orientation and risk orientation Taking initiative and responsibility Perseverance Self-awareness and self-knowledge Self-reflection and the need for feedback Effectiveness and belief in one’s own ability Being able to deal with uncertainty Dominance and decisiveness Social orientation and being able to collaborate

Definition of entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship begins with the idea of starting something. You see an opportunity or a possibility, and consider responding to that. You can see that opportunity in something that does not exist yet, but that is what you consider “the gap in the market.” Alternatively, an opportunity might present itself by improving existing products or services, because they do not work well in your opinion. You can also see it as an opportunity because it has always been your dream to have your own business or simply because there is no better alternative at that moment, because you are unemployed for example. There is always a reason that fuels your desire or decision to start a business. To get from desire to reality, you should seize the opportunity. Thinking should be followed by doing. Take action to turn the opportunity into an advantage for yourself and for others.

In short, entrepreneurship is: seeing and seizing opportunities through one’s own company or within a (larger) company with which you create value for yourself and others.

In the compact definition above, entrepreneurship is seen as renewal, but this does not necessarily mean the start of a new company. Entrepreneurship can also occur within an existing company, either within a sole proprietorship or within a multinational. In a sole proprietorship, the entrepreneurship naturally relates to the entrepreneur, who is the enterprising person who sees new opportunities and knows how to exploit them. At large(r) companies, it relates to one or more enterprising people within a division or subsidiary. This is the so-called internal entrepreneurship: a person who creates innovation in an (existing) organization.


What is entrepreneurship?

Nowadays, even within relatively safe and well-defined organizations, it is expected of employees that they are ‘entrepreneurial.’ You might want to take that with one or more grains of salt, because real entrepreneurship also means pioneering, taking risks and making decisions in moments of uncertainty. These issues are not valued in many organizations; they are often even impossible or punishable (you will be fired: “if you love to be entrepreneurial, be it in your own time’). The requirement ‘entrepreneurial personality’ in employment advertisements is used in the search for people who not only do what is expected of them, but who also bring in their independent thinking. They are looking for people who are creative and critical. These two characteristics also come in handy for the true entrepreneur, but they are not synonymous with entrepreneurship.

By the way, you should understand creating value in a broad sense. Of course, you create value for yourself by earning an income. However, by starting a business, you also create value for others, just by the products and services you offer. People buy your product or service because it solves their problem or fulfills a need, or because you can sell very well. You also create value by offering employment, which means more than simply putting people on the payroll. To deliver your products and services, you often also need the products and services of other businesses. With that, you provide them work and thus value too. Do not feel ashamed if you have no employees and people ask you how many employees you have. The question of how much work you provide is more important than how many people you employ.

Did you know that bigger companies have trouble keeping up with the pace of innovation and that they will be beaten by new small businesses much more often in the future? Business models have changed radically thanks to the Internet.


Please, try it yourself!


The Goose


or the golden

When are you an entrepreneur? chapter 2

When are you an entrepreneur?

2 When are you an entrepreneur? What is an entrepreneur and who can you classify as one? Various definitions of an entrepreneur exist. This does not make it easier of course. Some scientists see the entrepreneur as the innovator of the company, while others see the entrepreneur as the owner and/or manager of the company. Still others do not see an entrepreneur in an owner of a small business. They see in an entrepreneur someone who sets up a business with the goal of achieving profits and growth. One does this through innovative and strategic behavior. If the owner-manager shows no creative or innovative behavior, one cannot be regarded as an entrepreneur. One cannot give a generally accepted definition of the entrepreneur. The different definitions often raise more questions than they answer. You can safely speak of a definition dilemma. Difference of opinion also exists in the business community and the Tax Authorities use yet another definition. The fact that you registered your business does not immediately make you an entrepreneur for the Tax Authorities. There are numerous criteria for that. All this does not make it easier.

You are an entrepreneur when you have registered your company. Registering costs you about a couple of hours and a few bucks (depending on the nature of your business and the country or region in which you want to start). For the records you then have a company and so you are an entrepreneur. You can relax and wait for all direct mail offers that are sent to you subsequently: administration offices, office furnishers, sales representative for software, they all know how to find you.

According to the dictionary, an entrepreneur is the person who embarks on something, takes on a thing of any importance, starts. In economic terms, an entrepreneur is a person who is self-employed in a branch of trade or business, for one’s own account and risk, on the base of production resources. You can still make a distinction herein. Strictly speaking, you are an entrepreneur as a business owner, but this finding says nothing about how enterprising you are. Self-employed You are self-employed if you mainly provide your own income. Think of the small businessperson who is satisfied with the status quo and who can continue with that for years; you could classify this person as self-employed. You can also classify the freelancer who essentially tries to provide one’s own income by doing jobs for clients as self-employed. If you have registered your business and meet all the criteria of the Tax Authorities, are you an entrepreneur? Yes, you officially are. That is how easy it is to start your own business, to the satisfaction of many starters, to the annoyance of some others. It should be noted, however, that this is not true for every company: to start a daycare, you - fortunately - indeed need a professional diploma.


knowledge passion


You can now say that you are self-employed, just like the hairdresser and the owner of the driving school in your neighborhood, and famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Conrad Hilton. The one earns less than the minimum wage; the other is considering the purchase of a second private plane. Their similarity is that they are registered and meet the criteria of the Tax Authorities. That is where the similarity ends. The enterprising entrepreneur If you want to grow as an established self-employed individual, such as Conrad Hilton, and you want to start several or other types of business, I call it entrepreneurial. This is also more in line with the prevailing perceptions people have of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can be recognized here as well: seeking and finding new opportunities, and managing to turn them in one’s favor. After all, it is no longer about providing one’s own income or exercising craftsmanship, but about (un)consciously reaching higher goals. The point here is not whether you are a business owner, but whether you are entrepreneurial. Your behavior shows that a lot more than your registration. A business owner is not necessarily entrepreneurial as well. 47

When are you an entrepreneur?

So you could say that the entrepreneur differs from the business owner, in this perspective. A self-employed individual is rather the craftsman or specialist who does not feel like working in paid employment or does not have the opportunity to do so. For the entrepreneur, running a business is the profession: there lies one’s strength and challenge. Conclusion Entrepreneurship is seeing and seizing opportunities through your own company or within a (larger) company with which you create value for yourself and others. This can therefore take place in a small or large organization. Either way, you or someone else sees an opportunity and decides to actually seize that opportunity. In a small organization, this is often the entrepreneur, but not necessarily. Someone else can also observe the opportunity, such as the partner of the entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you run the company on your own account and risk, but that does not necessarily make you entrepreneurial too. The question is what makes you entrepreneurial? What personal factors play a role in successful entrepreneurship? Alternatively, what personal factors play a role in successfully adding value by seeing and seizing opportunities? Finally I explicitly make no value judgments. Both the self-employed individual and the enterprising entrepreneur are full-fledged business owners. The remainder of this book is consequently about both. The self-employed individual is not better than the entrepreneur or the other way around. If you decide to be and stay self-employed, there is nothing to be said against it, by no one. It is your choice. That is the beauty of entrepreneurship. You decide!


to be continued...


go hafrinidsh


What is a competence? chapter 3

What is a competencE?

3 What is a competence? In this chapter, I clarify what a competence is and of what it consists, because this concept is the basis for this book about the entrepreneurial competence. The meaning of the word competence has shifted from ‘qualification’ (being authorized) to ‘capability’ (being good at something) in the course of time. A competence can therefore be indicated as something at which you are good, as your ability allowing you to do your work well. This ability consists of four elements: Motivation, Personal characteristics, Qualities and Knowledge. These elements together are necessary for achieving a good score. This means that the term competence obviously implies incompetence too. The lack of competence or of a part thereof may lead to lower performances. In short, a competence is that which makes you successful in a particular task or role. The figure below explains this further.

mot iva ti


kn o

ge ed l w knowing


iti e






ic s




te rac

Figure 1: Four elements of a competence. Motivation (want) Motivation has everything to do with wanting. How much do you want something? What do you find truly important? The motivation depends on your ambition, (inner) motivations and values. Only when there is motivation for a specific task, the remaining elements of the competence can “really” be addressed. Suppose you have a lot of knowledge and skills for a particular job but little motivation, you will probably not use those knowledge and skills. Motivation is like the ignition of a motor; how much do you want to get started? The number of horsepower (hp), the other three elements, indicates the power of the engine; how well can you start? Personal characteristics (be) Personal characteristics say something about what you are like, about your character. It is so closely related to you that it is visible and recognizable to others. Think of someone in your surroundings who often does most of the talking and is very dominant. One is so present that it stands out. This way, there are a number of features with which you 52

can characterize someone. They are often referred to as characteristics as well. Think about it: what are your characteristic features? What do others often say about you? Characteristics or features are not easy to learn. You are born with them more or less, and through the years, they have made you the person you are today. Qualities (can) Qualities say something about that at which you are very good. Qualities can be learned easily in contrast to characteristics. Qualities are tied to a situation or task. Incidentally, qualities and characteristics are often mixed up; one might talk about characteristics, while the other uses the term qualities. Thus, the main difference is that qualities can be learned more easily than characteristics. In addition, a quality is more often something positive, while a characteristic can be both positive and negative. Knowledge (know) The last element of a competence, knowledge, is related to knowing. In order to be able to perform a particular task or handle a particular situation, you need to know how that should be done. What rules, procedures and laws apply? Qualities also have a relationship with knowledge. For example, when giving feedback, it is useful to know which rules should be applied. Characteristics have no relationship with knowledge. You do not have to know anything to be it. Look at perseverance; you do not need to know anything for that, though it is possible to develop this by knowing or learning how others do it. Developing competences Competences can be developed to a certain extent. It depends on your intelligence and personality. The ‘limits’ to your intelligence and personality are given to you since birth. Within these limits, it can thus be developed. It starts in your early years and it depends on the environment in which you grow up as well: to what extent is it a stable and safe environment? However, competences can be developed even in adolescence and adulthood. Does intelligence matter? Intelligence obviously has a strong relationship with the competence element Knowledge. Knowledge is gained quicker and you will learn more from experience if you are intelligent. Education is mainly focused on two types of intelligence: linguistic and logical. Researchers argue that at least seven types are present to a certain extent, which can be developed. • Linguistic intelligence: your ability to read, write and communicate. • Logical or mathematical intelligence: your ability to calculate and to work with numerical symbols and to use them according to the rules of logic. • Musical intelligence: your ability to use and appreciate the language of melody, rhythm, harmony and sounds. • Spatial intelligence: your ability to perceive and to recreate on paper or in the head. • Physical or movable intelligence: your ability to use the body for self-expression or as a tool for learning.


What is a competencE?

• Interpersonal intelligence: your ability to perceive and understand the feelings and needs of others. • Intrapersonal intelligence: your ability to self-understanding, knowledge about yourself. The last two personal intelligences (interpersonal and intrapersonal) are also referred to as emotional intelligence, which has greatly gained popularity in recent years. Besides the IQ (a measure of intelligence), the EQ now also matters (a measure of emotional intelligence). The latter says a lot more about how good you are in contact with others. Does intelligence matter? Well, it does help, but if you are not motivated or made of the right stuff, you will not get there. Motivation and Personality are also important; this book elaborates on this.

Did you know that about 100 BC, Cicero already spoke the wise words: “Character without knowledge has led to success more often than knowledge without character.”

In the following chapters, I apply the four elements of a competence (motivation, personal characteristics, qualities and knowledge) to the entrepreneur.

To get a grasp of what you need to become a successful entrepreneur, have a look at the entrepreneur competence model



mot iva tio n

Company level • Market • Environment • People • Production • Finance

Learning styles • Accommedator • Diverger • Converger • Assimilator

Internally driven • Need for achievement • Need for autonomy • Need for power 

Mature phase • Leadership • Motivating • Planning organising • Financial controlling

Early phase • Market awereness • Creativity • Flexibility

Traits • Need for achievement • Need for autonomy • Need for power • Social orientation • Self belief • Endurance • Risk taking propensity

a li



Externally driven • Unemployment • Business opportunity • Specialism

Thinking styles • Pioneer • Salesperson • Manager • Specialist

c chara




e edg l w o n


st i r e

Figure 2: The Entrepreneurial Competence Model. The entrepreneurial motivation comes from within (internally driven) and is partly fueled by motives from outside (externally driven), along with a number of characteristics and one or more dominant thinking styles. In addition, during the process of running a business, particular qualities play a role in the current phases of the business life cycle. In order to achieve one’s objectives, the entrepreneur must have, acquire, or hire knowledge of a number of business areas, depending on one’s learning style and experience. The motivation works as a motor here. One cannot learn it, but one can boost it. It is contagious for the use and development of the other elements. Motivation is most closely related to the person; one cannot hire it. Knowledge is the least closely related to the person. It is closer to the ‘surface;’ one can hire or acquire it.


What constitutes the entrepreneurial competence? chapter 4

What constitutes the entrepreneurial competence?

4 What constitutes the entrepreneurial competence? In the previous chapter, you read that a competency can be divided into four elements: motivation, personal characteristics, qualities and knowledge. These elements determine your ability and make you successful in a particular job or role. Nevertheless, what is your job as an entrepreneur and when are you successful in being one? Who decides that? It is certainly easier to ask that question than to answer it. You can describe success in various ways. You can define success in terms of achieving a goal. This can be a social goal. You could employ disabled colleagues. This is called corporate social responsibility. You can also define success in financial terms. From a financial perspective, there is success when the capital invested yields more than when it would have when put in a savings account. You can argue that success is when you have outdone your competitors. If the company has yielded higher revenue growth and staff growth than peers, it is successful. However, is an entrepreneur not successful too when one is satisfied with the income one earns, or when one can completely put one’s creativity in it, or when one has found a good balance between work and private life? I think one is. Anyway, one can name many criteria for success, but the most convincing criterion has to be the continuity of the business, especially given the fact that within five years, about half of the start-ups no longer exist. You can have success at three levels: societal, company and entrepreneurial.

Did you know that women are more successful than men are?In a research by Dutch researchers only 14.6% of the bankrupt companies were headed by a woman, while 33% of entrepreneurs are women. Women focus on the relationships in and around the company, while men are more sales-oriented. That makes women more conservative but more successful (in continuity).

You should mainly think of success as the creation of jobs and taxable assets at the societal level. Jobs are created by growth or large investments. Governments wants people to runs businesses. Entrepreneurship, as research shows, creates innovation, new insights and developments, and growth. New businesses create new jobs and revenues that can raise new tax, which is good for the public treasury. Success at the company level is limited to the company. It is an objective measure. The indicators of a company provide the opportunity to compare companies with each other as long as companies adhere to the accountancy rules. You can describe success in this case in terms of growth in sales, staff and profit. As long as the company scores better than its peers do, you can objectively speak of success. Success at the entrepreneurial level indicates to what extent the entrepreneur thinks one is successful. Every entrepreneur obviously determines this for oneself. That is fortunate. When one reaches the goals one has set for oneself, one is successful. One must set goals of course. Success can also be felt because of the freedom experienced


or the type of work or tasks for which one is asked. One has every right to do so. In short, whatever the reason is, the least one will want to achieve is that one’s company continues to exist.

Is everybody successful? No, not every business owner is successful, far from it. The examples of successful entrepreneurs like Ray Kroc (McDonald) and Conrad Hilton are therefore somewhat misleading: they are the exceptions that prove the rule. The fact is that for decades, the success rate of a starting entrepreneur has not been greater than 50%. By ‘success,’ we mean the entrepreneur who is still an entrepreneur after five years. That means that more than half of all those enthusiastic entrepreneurs throw in the towel after a few years. In the most favorable case, they do so themselves, because running the business requires more time than expected and yields less money than hoped, for example. In the worst case, the entrepreneur has to stop because there is a financial mess, up to bankruptcy. Failing entrepreneurship costs societies hundreds of millions of dollars every year. There is your reason to consider the causes for failure. Ask entrepreneurs what the reason for the forced discontinuation of their company is and they will be happy to point at external factors. “The market was working against me” is very popular. Non-paying clients are in the Top 10 National Excuse too. Pointing at someone else or, even better, abstract external factors such as ‘the market’ is more popular than pointing at yourself. The splinter in the eye of the other is still more visible than the beam in one’s own eye. This principle does not only apply to entrepreneurs by the way. The entrepreneur who sees one’s company perish after a short time and blames it on one’s own shortcomings is rare. That is remarkable, given the results of many studies conducted on this failure. These clearly indicate that, for example, the poor keeping of records is an important ‘fail factor,’ just as the inability to attract clients. That has nothing to do with external factors, but all with the interior of the entrepreneur, with one’s qualities or, with a nicer word, one’s entrepreneurial competence.

Conclusion It is the job of the entrepreneur to continue the company (at least). That says nothing about the profit or loss yielded. It is also very dependent on the industry, but continuing the business surely is the minimum requirement you must set as entrepreneurial task. Be honest: who starts a business in order to already know at the start that it is discontinued after three years? Everyone would want the company to continue. The entrepreneurial competence consists of the motivation, personal characteristics, qualities and knowledge necessary for the survival of a company (at least).


Be different

Think with your heart

4.1 Motivation: what do you really want? mot iva ti

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ge ed l w knowing

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ic s





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Figure 3: The first element of competence: motivation. In motivation, it is about how much you want to be and stay an entrepreneur. Has it been a positive choice, because you have always wanted this? Has it been an inner felt motive to go into business? Alternatively, has it been a negative choice because there was no alternative for you at the time? For instance, unemployment can ‘force’ you to start for yourself, especially later in life. After numerous rejections in applications, starting for yourself meets less and less resistance. However, if there is little motivation and it is mostly negative, it will be difficult to pull through when times get tough, especially in the beginning. If you have little motivation, you will throw in the towel quickly. Success is definitely no longer an option in such case. If you are truly motivated, have a vision and want to fight for it, you will pull through. It is therefore important not to overlook the answer to the following question:

4.1.1 E ntrepreneurial motives: why do you want to be an entrepreneur? It may seem that I want to say here: ‘do not start’. Cherish your life as a wage slave and rejoice your vacation bonus and your pension accrual. Nothing is further from the truth. What I do want to make clear is that you should look before you leap. That sounds like a cliché, which it is, but it is true. Many setbacks will come your way and a realistic look at the life of an entrepreneur helps you overcome adversity. In my practice, I meet many (future) entrepreneurs who say that running a business ‘seems like fun.’ Fun? What kind of motive is that supposed to be? That sounds a bit poor and naïve to me. Therefore, answer the question of why you would like to start as an entrepreneur. Do not try to convince me, but convince yourself that you are doing it for the right reasons.


Motivation: what do you really want?

Entrepreneurial motives Studies conducted by universities show that ‘independence’ or ‘wanting to be independent” is mentioned as the principal motive for starting a business. Other motives mentioned include wanting to deliver quality work, unemployment, having found the gap in the market, being sure of clients and earning a better income.

In one study, 99,115 entrepreneurs were asked about their personal goal to start a business. A forced choice of five answers to the question about their most important personal goal produced the following picture: Doing work that I like (41%) Staying independent (29%) Becoming financially independent (17%) Being able to put my creative ideas into practice (10%) Controlling my own time (3%)

Independence Independence seems extremely attractive and is linked to entrepreneurship inextricably. There is good reason for talking about ‘an independent entrepreneur’ (as with franchise by the way, though you are more dependent on the franchise organization of which you are a part).

I told a fellow entrepreneur – I will not mention any names, he still has a firm – about the motive ‘independence’ while writing this book. “Independence? Stop it! Do they mean that they are no longer being lived by a boss? Man, when I was employed, I only had to deal with one boss, now with hundreds! Every time I am happy because I have welcomed a new customer, the nasty feeling that I have gained another boss immediately comes over me. It is a Trojan horse. I can tell a boss that I do not have time or a headache, but not a customer without losing him or her. No, the more customers, the more patrons, the more bosses. I am lived by them. They eat my time and my energy. The only advantage is that they all have to pay for it, and even that not everyone does.”

The desire for independence is not so much the independence itself. Rather, it is a necessary condition to meet other motives. Some want freedom so that they do not have to work for a boss. (What is up with these bosses? Are they still the slave drivers of yesteryear?) Others want to deliver better products and services than they can at or through their employer. They want to put their own ideas of what is good in practice. However, this is less easy in a (large) existing organization. Independence is a necessary condition to meet other motives.


Actually, these entrepreneurs strive for success (for which there are several definitions, see the previous section), and they see the possibility to realize that through their own company. Nevertheless, how likely is it that it will be successful? Is it about the success of the company or secretly about that of themselves? Is the latter their deep-rooted desire? Independence in psychoanalysis If Independence is a kind of overarching motive to achieve other motives (goals), it is interesting to see what those underlying motives might be. Manfred Kets de Vries (the famous professor at Instead, the leading university in Paris) lifts a corner of the veil. In “The dark side of entrepreneurship,” Kets de Vries describes a shadowy image of the entrepreneur. The successful entrepreneurs that he has analyzed showed an excessive need for control, sometimes to the detail, and an inability or unwillingness to work under the control of another person. Consequently, the entrepreneur differs from the manager. While managers are able to adapt to a leader, by seeing them as a role model, such subordinate roles horrifies many entrepreneurs and they bring the leadership into discussion. This is clearly a motive for running one’s own business. With a general distrust in others – and an enormous desire for applause at the same time, sometimes to the extreme – Kets de Vries might sketch an image of extremes, but he also gives a more nuanced image of certain character traits of entrepreneurs. This will undoubtedly (subconsciously) be a breeding ground for some to start for themselves and to endure to the point that what started as a dream has turned into a conglomerate.

4.1.2 What matters: does it come from the inside or the outside? In answering the question of what is your motivation for entrepreneurship, you need to realize whether your motives come from the inside or the outside. Internally driven motives stem from your deeply felt desire to achieve something. Whether that is doing great work, getting rich or not having to work under a boss: you can achieve those goals through entrepreneurship. By understanding what your deeper motives are, you also get a better idea of ​​what you want to achieve with your business. For doing fun work, you do not necessarily have to grow. However, if you want to get rich, growth will be necessary. Nevertheless, if you check yourself, you will recognize externally driven motives that come from the outside. Fearing to miss the opportunity that occurred at that moment, wanting to do something completely different: whatever it is, they are motives that have made you take the step to start a business. Nevertheless, even if being unemployed, having no immediate prospect of a job, made you consider entrepreneurship, the question is whether only the unemployment made you consider it. So, does it stem from your (internally driven) fight or do you have to admit that it was more of a (emergency) flight? In the latter case, the motive is in your environment or situation and so it is driven externally. Should you then still want to continue it?


Motivation: what do you really want?

The survival rates of an acquired company, five years after the acquisition, are 90% - 95%. The survival rates of a startup are approximately 50% after 5 years.

In short Motivation as the first element of the entrepreneurial competence can be divided into internally and externally driven motives. Internally driven motives come from within, and form the inner motives to become an independent entrepreneur. The main reasons mentioned by entrepreneurs and researchers are the need for independence, performance and power or control. The choice of entrepreneurship can also be encouraged by externally driven motives. For instance, unemployment – especially later in life – can “force” someone to start one’s own business. After numerous rejections in applications, the threshold for (“nothing left to do but”) starting one’s own business is lower. Incidentally, the relationship between internally and externally driven motives still says nothing about the entrepreneur’s chances of success.

Discover your motivation for entrepreneurship! Do you want to find out if you are motivated for starting your own company? Please answer these three questions: 1. Can you also do what you want to do at a (large) company? 2. Can you comply with someone else’s example? 3. Can you stand it when someone gives you orders? If you have answered ‘No’ three times without any doubt, consider starting your own company if you have not already done so.


Be different Think with your heart 65

Be different

Be who you are

4.2 Personal characteristics: who are you really? mot iva ti


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a char


Figure 4: The second element of competence: personal characteristics. Personal characteristics can be divided into characteristics and thinking styles. Characteristics say something about what you are, what characterizes you. It does justice to your ‘own’ character and it is therefore closely linked to you. It is so strong that it is recognizable to others. The same goes for thinking styles, which are also strongly linked to your person, though they rather address the way you think and about what you think. For instance, the one is a real dreamer and the other is a real doer. Both concepts, characteristics and thinking styles of entrepreneurs, are elaborated on in this chapter.

4.2.1 Characteristics: what characterizes you? Many studies on the characteristics of entrepreneurs have been conducted. For these characteristics, it is shown that successful entrepreneurs differ from non-successful entrepreneurs, or managers and non-entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to the characteristics Need for Achievement, Need for Autonomy, Need for Power or Dominance, Social Orientation, Self belief, Perseverance or Endurance and the Willingness to take risks. Successful entrepreneurs score higher on these characteristics than non-successful entrepreneurs. Here, success means surviving the first years that the company. Obviously, one can set many requirements for success, but as stated earlier, continuity is the most convincing criterion. Each characteristic will be elaborated on below. Need for Achievement The need for achievement is a performance orientation and mainly about wanting to deliver performance. This means it says something about motivation as well: the motivation to continue to achieve and to do so better. This drive comes from within. It is the hunger for success. For some, it may be a reason to start one’s own business. In your own company, you can grow as fast as you want, as long as you plan it well in terms of finance. You can grow faster than you can grow as an employee in a large company, because there, you are likely to meet a manager who cannot stand it. 67

Personal characteristics: who are you really?

Need for achievement is important in entrepreneurship. You must have the ambition to achieve something and the will to do it (increasingly) better. You are performance-oriented when you: • F eel personally responsible for troubleshooting, set goals, achieve goals through your own efforts and have a strong need to know how well you have done. • Have a strong need to be good at something in order to obtain a greater sense of inner vigor. • Do your best, want to be successful, want to carry out tasks that require commitment and proficiency, do something of great importance, want to follow a difficult task through to a successful conclusion and want to be respected by others. • Want to improve yourself continuously. • Take personal responsibility for making decisions. • Have the will to do a remarkable job and to get ahead.

Generic description need for achievement Successful entrepreneurs are performance-oriented. That is, they purposefully strive for an achievement, entering into a fight with others if necessary. Having their business goal in mind, they work with a lot of willpower and energy on their own company. They want to perform more and more by doing everything as good as possible and they continuously raise the bar for themselves. They want to stand out. That motivation comes from within. Non-successful entrepreneurs do not have a strong performance need or strong will to succeed. They quickly settle for less. How can you develop Need for achievement? Performance orientation definitely has everything to do with what you want to achieve and how motivated you are to achieve that. What do you really want to achieve? You start with imagining what you want to achieve by sketching your vision for the future. What images do you see if you think of the future? Of what do you dream? What are your wishes? What makes you truly enthusiastic? Also ask yourself why this is the case. This way, you automatically come to the essence. Do not hesitate to think big; all great things start with a first step. Developing a vision begins at the end of the ‘thought process.’ It is the result of all the activities you want to undertake. It is a realistic, credible and attractive image of the future. It is what you want to achieve! It is a result that you can actually concretely measure or hold when you have achieved it, such as the market leader in a given sector, or a large company with a building on which your name adorns the entire facade. Whatever you imagine, the result must be concrete and tangible. A figure on how many revenue you expect to make is a tangible and measurable result too! The clearer and more detailed you can imagine it, the clearer it becomes for you how to achieve that. By creating a concrete image of what you want to achieve and by describing the achievement clearly and concretely, it becomes clear to you and others what you want to achieve and when you have achieved it. Then subdivide it into very small steps, intermediate goals that you can achieve relatively quickly. A useful tool here is to make your performance SMARTER. It is an acronym for


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Specific, Emotion and finally Result. In order to achieve the result, you thus subdivide it into very small steps, and each step is formulated in a SMARTER manner of course. A SMARTER goal is • • • • • •

Specific (defined in detail and clearly) Measurable (how much revenue, what size, what capacity, etc.) Acceptable or feasible for yourself or in the market Realistic (actually feasible or ‘fantasy island’) Time-bound (start, phases, end) Emotion (how badly do you want it, connect yourself emotionally with your goal) • Result (how important is the goal for you, make it important) Every small step makes the long journey to your goal manageable and achievable. Whenever you are one step further, the feeling that you are going to reach your own finish line grows. Think of it as a game that you play with yourself. Every time you have taken the next small step, your Motivation and your need to achieve grows. Your vision works like a magnet here. The closer you come to the goal, the more attractive it becomes. Watch out though: if you never take the first step, you will stay in dreamland.

Independence The chapter on motivation has already written a thing or two about independence, but here I will elaborate on what independence truly means. You are autonomous when you: • Have an intense need for independence, autonomy. • Want to judge independently, want to be independent, resist suggestions from others and are less willing to adapt. • Have great dissatisfaction with working under a boss or having to follow the decisions of others. Autonomous means being to oneself or wanting to be to oneself, while independence rather means wanting to be and being able to do something oneself. This means that independence does not automatically mean autonomy. This is present in many organizations nowadays. Employees want the security of a job on the one hand - and thus income and dependence of a larger organization -, but independence in the work on the other hand: entrepreneurship within the company. The entrepreneur is autonomous - one has to be capable of doing a lot oneself as well as often actually doing it oneself - but not independent of others, such as customers, suppliers, employees, financiers, the government etc. The independence that entrepreneurs experience is more the feeling of freedom to do what one wants, like saying no to a potential customer.

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. Michael Jordan 69

Personal characteristics: who are you really?

General description Independence Independence is often the (un)conscious reason why someone chooses the existence of a self-employed entrepreneur. One feels the need to be able to decide freely and to do what one think is good. Successful entrepreneurs make decisions autonomous of others, solve their own problems and finish their work on their own, but also know how to let this go in order to grow their business. They understand the increasing need for independence of their employees. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs need support or help, and often leave making decisions to others or are unable to let go their strong independence when their business is growing.

How can you develop Independence? Independence mainly means that you choose your own path. Especially if you start the entrepreneurial adventure as a solo starter, you cannot do without this characteristic. ‘Can one learn independence?’ you might ask yourself. Well, you are born with this characteristic more or less. Yet you can increase your independence. It is mainly a matter of daring to trust yourself by relying on your own strength. How do you do that? The following tips can help you increase your independence. The easiest and most effective method is to hire a coach with whom you can talk. If you want to do it yourself, which of course is a good step towards greater independence, the following method can support you in that. If you end up in a situation in which you are at a loss and want to consult others, stop for a second. Wait a few minutes and let the nasty feeling rise that you do not know how to continue. This is the uncertain feeling from which you walk away and for which you hope to gain certainty of others. Then imagine that there is no one else around that could help or advise you. The feeling is likely to get worse. Nevertheless, accept the bad feeling for that moment. Do not avoid it; the feeling is there. Now go back to the situation in which you did not know what to decide or how to continue. What would you do, knowing that there is nobody who can help? I am sure that something comes to mind. Apply that. Go do it. Do not be afraid that it turns out wrong. If that does happen, accept it and resolve that you will succeed next time. Independence in fact has a positive relationship with your self-confidence. If you do not dare to rely on your own strength, you will never learn to trust it, and act or decide independently. In short, always try it yourself before you consult others. It is a matter of doing it. The more often you do it, the more normal it gets. If necessary, start with small, no drastic situations. However, never apply this when you do not have the final say, or when others also have a say in the matter.

Dominance or Need for power Dominance should be seen as the need for control and power, or wanting to have the last word. According to some researchers, the need for power and control combined with an uncomfortable feeling in a situation of dependence characterize entrepreneurs. This covers the internally driven motives to be an entrepreneur. After all, in entrepreneurship, you are not only the boss; you get to play it too. 70

You are dominant when you: • Want to assert yourself, lead, organize, instruct, persuade. • Have a strong need for control, and for imposing your own structure and conditions to which others must comply. • Feel the need to let others behave as they would not behave otherwise. General description Need for Power Dominance is the need to have control over others, imposing your will on someone. Dominance can be a reason for being an entrepreneur, as one is then in control. Successful entrepreneurs know what they want and how they can influence others to achieve their own goals. In addition, they assume that their authority or opinion is accepted. Still this doesn’t say anything about their leadership style. Non-successful entrepreneurs are modest. They prefer not to be in the forefront.

How can you increase Need for power? You can hardly change it if your need for dominating is not significant. That does not alter the fact that you can learn how to influence others though, how to convince others of what you want to achieve. After all, you want something with your company, right? How do you expand your influencing ability and persuasiveness? The following tips may be able to help you with that. It helps of course if you are accepted as an expert, such as a professor being able to explain his/her story easily. It is important that you have a good story with solid arguments that influences and convinces others. Furthermore, you need to bring this story convincingly, which has to do with how much confidence you have in your own story and yourself. How do you get that compelling story and your unshakable faith in you? Put all the arguments and counter-arguments in a row. Convince yourself of the quality of your opinion and the arguments you use. If you do not believe in it, others will not either. Then decide who your audience or target market is. That makes a difference: you do not have to convince everyone, just those to whom it is interesting. Pay attention to the way you put it; if necessary, practice in front the mirror. Practice makes perfect. By repeating, you get used to it and it will be much easier. That pays off. Persuasion is a form of influencing. In total, there are four types of influencing. In addition to Persuading, you can also exert influence through Urging, Research and Inspiration. Urging is insisting that someone does or does not do something. You try to impose something on others. To achieve this, you need to have good arguments, same as with persuading. In research and inspiration, you try to make others curious, so that they take action themselves and start doing what you actually want them to do. Good arguments do not really help in this case, rather good questions, interesting stories and attractive images of the future. However, if it does not work with the help of research and inspiration, chances are that you have to switch to persuading and urging.


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

Social orientation Social orientation says something about the need for contact with other people. Some people are more focused on ideas, facts and events. Others focus more on people and always want to be surrounded by people, because they cannot stand being alone. The latter group also tends to be more friendly and sociable than the first group. Entrepreneurs need a little bit of both: “On average, entrepreneurs are not always sympathetic. This is easy to understand. If you are always helping someone, someone will end up abusing it.” Social orientation is divided into three levels: • Y  ou have a low need for social orientation if you feel uncomfortable in the company of others with the exception of a few close friends. You miss the need or energy to meet people in social networks and groups and to establish close relationships with people, which is necessary for managers and entrepreneurs with staff. • An average need for social orientation. This is related to effective management. You want to and can be on your own as well as with others. You dare to take unpopular decisions, even if they have negative consequences for others, to implement rules tightly and to prefer those who have the best papers instead of only preferring people with whom you get along. • A strong need for social orientation. You like to enter into relationships; you do everything possible to maintain relationships or mend them if necessary. You like to participate in groups or social networks and enjoy activities with family and friends. You are less good at being alone. You want to be liked and accepted by others. The question here is to what extent you are focused on yourself or on your social environment, other people. An average social orientation is related to effective management. This will also apply to entrepreneurship. After all, it is a combination of being focused on others and at the same time on your own. The social orientation of an entrepreneur should be seen as the moderate need for close friendships, for security, solidarity and (continuously) being surrounded by others. In other words, the entrepreneur, and certainly the self-employed, must be able to be on one’s own. At the same time, one must also be effective in dealing with others. A person who is able to have a good chat gets more done with trading partners, banks and employees. This has a positive effect on entrepreneurial success. However, this says something about one’s social skills and not so much about one’s social orientation, which should rather be understood as a characteristic.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. 72

Henry Ford

General description Social Orientation Social orientation is the extent to which a person is focused on others. Successful entrepreneurs understand that people and networks are necessary for the realization of their ideas. They easily make contact and they are guided by commercial considerations in their social actions. In addition, they can put aside their social needs and focus their attention on their business. Solo entrepreneurs often work alone, which can be very lonely. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs are reserved and cautious in making contact.

How do you develop Social orientation? Social orientation is an inborn characteristic and its development is therefore limited. It does not have to be a problem if you do not like to be in the company of others; you just have to make sure that you keep networking sufficiently. That might take more effort from you, but you will see that you feel differently once it yields success. Because whether you are selling a product or a service, networking is the way to find new customers, and to stay well informed about developments in your field and market. What is networking? How do you do that? What should you do and not do? Networking is the establishment and maintenance of contacts that can help you and your company. However, that is only one side of the coin. Networking is giving and taking. Help the people in your network access information and new contacts. The basis of a good network is trust. In principle, everyone you know and of whom you have a positive impression is your network. Your network is bigger than you think. Moreover, the contacts from your network have a private network too. By using this network, you increase your own network. Of course, you can purposefully approach people for your own gain, for example by calling someone for an appointment to present your products and services. Nevertheless, chances are that this is what you find so difficult. Therefore, what else can you do to network properly? A few tips. Tips for good networking • Only network with people with whom you get along. After all, a network is based on mutual trust. • Collect business cards and store them in a system. Write on each card where you have met the person and what you might be able to do for each other. • Know what you want and express that. Often, information and contacts a utomatically come up. Nevertheless, remember that networking is always mutual. Therefore, start by brainstorming with the other: give before you take. • Keep up your reputation. For example, do not forward people to contacts that you do not think highly of or if you question their motives. Your network will hold it against you. • Do not grieve if networking is not directly profitable. It often takes a little longer to pay off. Sometimes someone of whom you had not expected it (anymore) visits you.


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

Self belief Self belief or efficacy refers to people’s belief in the control over events in their lives. Does that control lie on the inside or outside of them? There are people who believe that they stand at the helm of life, that they have an influence on whatever happens. Others believe you only have limited impact on things; life happens to you and you should learn to cope with it as best as you can. Is it a matter of luck or do you control happiness? Can you enforce happiness? Is the control internal or external? You are effective when you: • P  erceive an event as an outcome that is within your personal control or that has originated because of your own efforts. You are ineffective when you perceive an event to be beyond your personal control or when you think that an event is not caused by your efforts but by luck or fate. After all, if you do not believe in the outcome (success) of your ‘undertaking’ and if you do not believe that this outcome is caused by your own efforts, you will probably not have a go at that risky step. The term self-confidence is also used in relation to this. • Self belief distinguishes between people who think that they themselves have control over personal events in their lives, simply called ‘internals,’ and people who think that personal events in their lives are influenced by factors over which they have no control, simply called ‘externals.’ Internals believe they can influence their surroundings by using their abilities, while externals believe that factors such as luck, chance or powerful people and institutions have the upper hand in most of the events in their lives. Internals have a greater performance drive, and they are more likely to adapt and to learn. This means that internals look for the impact of their own behavior on the environment more actively than externals do. Your need for achievement determines the direction in which your company needs to go by setting (ambitious) targets, accompanied by an enormous drive (motivation) to achieve that goal. However, you will probably not reach that goal without self belief and thus confidence in the outcome resulting from your own efforts. There are entrepreneurs who are successful, but who do not directly attribute this to their own effectiveness and who rather claim it is luck or even ‘God-given.’ Some entrepreneurs realize that their success cannot be achieved thanks to their own actions only and they thus seek an explanation beyond themselves. They are well aware of their privileged position and they are sometimes even surprised at the success that has befallen them. They feel as if there has been (yet) another force that has helped them. Still, that does not say that the entrepreneurs do not (largely) owe their success to their self belief. What would have happened if they had not believed in it? Would they have persevered? Would others have done so? Even if entrepreneurs do believe that they have succeeded largely thanks to their own knowledge and skills, they might not want to walk around brandishing it.

Entrepreneur Henry Ford of the car brand of the same name already understood that it matters what you think. He rightly argued that if you think ‘I can do it’ or ‘I cannot do it,’ you are right in either case.


General description Self belief Personal efficacy is the belief in one’s own abilities and the confidence in relation to others. Successful entrepreneurs are confident that they can achieve their goals on their own. They are convinced that they are able to finish any job and that their success does not depend on others, but on them. They also bring that confidence in their relationship with others, even though they are richer, more important or more powerful. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs believe in their own strength less and live with the idea that their success depends on circumstances.

How do you increase your Self belief? To work and live effectively, it is necessary to detect blockages, hidden beliefs and thwarting emotions, and to turn them into thoughts and feelings that come in handy. You do this by changing the way you think about yourself, because it is largely about how you look at yourself and how you feel about yourself. You do not dare to rely on yourself because you have deluded yourself into believing that you cannot do something. That is just where it begins: those negative thoughts about yourself. The question is whether that is the case because you think you cannot perform that particular task, or because you think you do not know how to perform it? If the latter is the case, it actually means that you have insufficient knowledge to be able to start. The fact that you do not know how to start stops you from starting. So, if you find out what you need to know about how to perform that particular task, how you should tackle it, it takes away the threshold. On the contrary, if it is the first option (you think you cannot do it), it is important to look at what is behind it. You have to find out what thoughts and feelings bother you. Thoughts and feelings that make you think that you are ​​not capable of something are also called blockages or obstacles. After all, those thoughts and feelings do not take you further and do not make you exude confidence. How do you cope with them? How do you get rid of those doubts? It is not easy, but not impossible either! However, eliminating these obstacles independently is a difficult task. With someone else who specializes in it, it goes much easier and better. If you still first want to try it yourself, it is important that you make clear exactly what thoughts cause the feeling that you cannot perform a particular task, that you are no good. Only when that thought is clear, you should make clear what you feel when you think that thought. Now it is important to counterbalance the negative thought about yourself with a positive thought in which you believe. By endlessly repeating it, you replace your old negative thought with a new positive thought. It takes a while, but you will see that you look at it more positively and you will find that you have nothing to fear. Who says there is something you cannot do? YOU, right? Therefore, only you can replace your negative thought with a positive one. Having problems? Then use an experienced coach who helps people to be more effective on a daily basis.


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

Endurance or Perseverance Many entrepreneurs indicate that they find endurance important to the continuity of the business. That is easy to imagine, especially considering the many setbacks that entrepreneurs have on the unbeaten path. With the saying ‘if there is a will, there is a way,’ it is also easy to imagine that entrepreneurs with perseverance and the will to build a successful business will find a way to it. When things are not going well and one is actually about to give up, one’s perseverance will keep one on one’s feet and one’s performance orientation will keep one focused. You are a go-getter when you: • H  ave discipline, have the ability to dominate, are goal-oriented, feel personally responsible, persevere in tasks especially when these are difficult and physically demanding, are determined and are tenacious. • Persevere, like fair and constructive forms of cooperation and prefer work that enables quiet dedication and regular commitment. That makes these people emotionally stable but it may also affect their flexibility; they may come across as rigid. I have talked with many successful entrepreneurs. Without exception, they have all had difficult periods. However, by the very act of persevering at those times, they have made progress. General description Endurance Endurance means continuing powerfully despite setbacks or objections, precisely when the going gets tough, also in the longer term. Successful entrepreneurs have great perseverance. With a clear goal in mind, they eventually overcome every bump. Even when they do not (directly) make progress, they persevere. They work hard and do not let go until the goal is reached. Non-successful entrepreneurs often have a lack of willpower and are quicker to hide behind fatigue or boredom.

How do you increase Endurance? Endurance is a trait. The characteristic of a trait is that it is hard to learn. You are born with it, more or less. The one has that more than the other does. How can you still improve your perseverance? The following tips may help you: • Make sure to have a clear vision and the will to realize this only too happily. The clearer your vision is of what you want to achieve, the easier it is to persevere. After all, you know for what you are doing it. • Take all the work you have to do to achieve your vision and subdivide them in very small steps that are well arranged and do not seem so big that you already do not feel like it in advance. • Concentrate only on the step in front of you. • Reward yourself after each step. • Create space in the realization of each step. This gives more flexibility to finish each step successfully, and to ensure that you do not think it is not going to work in advance and that you throw down the towel prematurely. • Every day, try to do more than you had actually envisioned. • Enjoy every step you have taken; consider it for a moment and be proud of yourself!


I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. George S. Patton


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

Risk taking Successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks, as many books describe. What is a calculated risk though? Does it mean that all risks are identified so that it is known what risks one runs? Alternatively, does it mean that the entrepreneur knows what risks one runs and how to deal with them? A third meaning could be that the entrepreneur oneself is responsible for one’s success and that one reduces the risk of failure though one’s own (entrepreneurial) behavior. Starting a business is seen as a risky activity. That is a given with which you as an entrepreneur have to (learn to) deal. What one sees as risky, the other experiences as an opportunity not to be missed. That same person may naturally be quite risk-averse, but if the risk of failure is not seen because the chance of success dominates in the imagination, the risk does not need to be avoided. Thus, it is possible that a person does not see the risk. There are three causes for this: there is first the overconfidence resulting from overestimating one’s own knowledge and skills. Secondly, there is the illusion or wrongful conviction that one can influence events in which luck plays a major role. Finally, there is the belief in the law of small numbers, which means that one will draw conclusions based on too small samples or limited information. An example of this is someone wrongly translating three enthusiastic reactions from friends to one’s new invention into the conclusion that the entire population will be charmed by one’s invention. Entrepreneurial people are active risk takers. They proactively observe opportunities and do so with energy, initiative and willingness to achieve the desired outcome of an opportunity, despite the risks attached to it. Their goals are more focused on improving their lives than on preserving the status quo. This positive attitude towards opportunities, and thus the faith and confidence in the positive outcome of the opportunity, entails a proactive attitude that is characterized by the willingness to seize the opportunity despite the risks of failure. It is the balance between the best possible profit and as little damage as possible. Sooner or eventually, entrepreneurial people are pulled by the potential positive outcomes and thus the profit, while non-entrepreneurial people tend to focus on the negative impact of the outcome, and thus the potential damage. Non-entrepreneurial people are more passive in their approach to risk. They often respond only to the risks they face and cannot ignore. Their behavior is focused on reducing the potential dangers of the risks. Conclusion Risk is inherent to entrepreneurship, but is strongly connected with the person who perceives it. Something may seem very risky for one person, while the same is - rightly or wrongly - not perceived as such for those subjected to it. In addition, risk is connected with the uncertainty about (future) outcomes. When running/starting a company, there is uncertainty about the future, the development of the market, the profitability of the company and one’s own income. That is a given with which you as an (starting) entrepreneur have to (learn to) deal. It is part of your job as an entrepreneur. Remember, although the risks are calculable, it always remains uncertain what actually will happen. Taking risks means, above all, to be able to deal with this uncertainty. Risk is relative to whom is subjected to it, and it is thus also connected with uncertainty. However, the true essence of entrepreneurship especially


lies in seeing opportunities, and the tendency to seize them rather depends on the vision, creativity and perseverance of an entrepreneur than the willingness to take risks. To deal with unknowns successfully, the entrepreneur must possess vision, confidence, decision-making power and the power to assess capacities of yourself as well as others properly.

“If you have no faith in the future, you have no faith in yourself”

General description Risk taking Risk appetite is the ability to deal with uncertainty and the willingness to take a loss. Successful entrepreneurs are active risk takers. They proactively observe opportunities and do so with energy, initiative and willingness to achieve the desired outcome of an opportunity, despite the risks inherent to the perceived risk. Their goals are more focused on improving their lives than preserving life as it is. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs are passive risk takers. They approach risks more cautiously and defensively and they often only respond to what they face and cannot ignore.

The only certainty you have is you

How do you increase Risk taking? With risk taking, it is mainly about knowing what risks you run, apart from the fact whether you want to run that risk. This means that you should identify all the risks associated with a decision. This can best be done by making a risk analysis. You do this by writing down all the dangers and consequences, and by indicating what risk you run in each danger or consequence – a financial one or an emotional one. Financial risks can be covered. There are specialists who can help you with that. It is completely different with emotional risks. When you notice an emotional risk is too big for you, you can do the following: put things in perspective. Imagine that you have made ​​the decision and that it goes wrong. Let the feeling come up. Make it worse, and then try to ask yourself what exactly is so bad. What is it that you really cannot stand? Is there no other solution, not even when you make an effort and are creative? No matter how bad it gets, you will always find a way out, right? In fact, that is what it is about with risk taking. No matter what risk you run, you trust it and you know that you will find a solution, and that ultimately, once it happens, it is not so bad. The point is that you, once it goes wrong, start to look at it differently. You need to think in terms of solutions and in possibilities. It is called putting things in perspective, which makes risks, seemingly huge emotional risks, seem smaller.


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

4.2.2 The thinking styles: which do you prefer? The element Personal characteristics does not only consist of characteristics, but also of thinking styles. According to the theory of Herrmann (1996), thinking styles say something about what you think about and how you do so. Your thinking style affects the behavior you show. There are four distinct entrepreneurial thinking styles: Pioneer, Salesperson, Manager and Specialist. Every entrepreneur has all thinking styles in oneself, but also has a natural preference for a particular thinking style. That is the thinking style that usually prevails and determines how you think and act. However, time and again, the situation determines how the four thinking styles work together and consequently, how you behave. Therefore, it is possible that you respond differently than you might expect based on your preference for an entrepreneurial thinking style. The following subchapters will elaborate on the four thinking styles.

Specialist Manager

✔ ✔ ✔ ✔


Pioneer Salesperson

The (experimental) Pioneer The thoughts of the pioneers are dominated by possibilities. One “lives” in the future, and has a long-term vision. Due to one’s strong imagination power, one often already imagines the whole picture, while others have no idea yet. The pioneer thinks playfully, quickly and often beyond set limits. One stands out because of a passionate, optimistic, sometimes naive style. One has the ability either to turn a situation into chaos or to pull it out of chaos. This is because one can shed a new light on existing matters and one can transform apparently illogical problems into solutions. The pioneer can get to great heights in chaotic situations, but loses oneself in situations of order and in daily practice. One is bored easily by routine and has little attention to details. One’s big motivation is getting recognition. One stands out by being different. In situations of chaos, one gets that chance. While others accept the impossibilities or routine of the situation, the pioneer constantly wonders why things happen as they do and why it cannot be different. One’s ideas about different or better are limited only by one’s imagination.

How do you develop the thinking style of a Pioneer? You can train your brain and therefore your thinking styles. Obviously, your natural preference for a thinking style will continue to prevail, but you can develop the style of thinking that you usually do not apply through practice. If the thinking style of Pioneer applies to you less, you can develop that by doing the following exercises regularly: • Design a logo for your (future) business yourself. • Imagine what your business will look like in 10 years, and try to do that as detailed as possible. • Make a decision based purely on your feelings; use your intuition, or the (very) first thing that comes to mind. • Develop a new product or application for your business. • Invent at least one crazy idea per day and execute the idea if you can. • Think of at least five solutions to a problem that you encounter. • Create a metaphor for the products and services of your company. • Do something you have never done before; • Predict what will happen next year and write it down.

The (sensitive) Salesperson The salesperson loves people and is focused on developing relationships. One often trusts one’s feelings. One has great interest in the people around one and is committed to making contact, though one may be guided by business considerations. One understands the needs of the customer better than anyone does. One’s big motivation is acceptance by the surroundings. Precisely this type is focused on the other. As long as the others are having fun, one has so too. Selling products or services means matching the needs of the customer. One works well in harmonious situations. In it, one constantly seeks win-win situations. The salesperson likes to do something for others, because it increases the chance of acceptance. That makes this type loyal, flexible


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

and enthusiastic. It happens that others take advantage of one. One tends to avoid conflicts and one cannot tolerate criticism; one will take it personally. This means that one is incapable of making rapid, hard or rational decisions. One is more concerned about who experiences the consequences instead of realizing what the best decision is.

How do you develop the thinking style of a Salesperson? It is possible to train your brain. You can develop your preference for a certain thinking style as well as the thinking styles that are less natural for you. If the thinking style of Salesperson applies to you less, you can develop it by doing the following exercises regularly: • Make time to listen to your favorite music. • Share your feelings with people you love. • Take a good look at the colors in a room, taste the atmosphere and describe it. • Do something that evokes strong emotions in you and share this with people with whom you get along well. • Each day, try to meet and have a conversation with a new person. • Try paying attention to your posture and how you come across to others: how do others see and experience you? • Help a co-worker or friend with one’s assignment or problem. • Organize a party or casual gathering. • Make a decision in which you take into account everyone’s needs. • Have a conversation with someone when walking on the street or when waiting somewhere. • Practice telling stories. • Make sure you get goose bumps regularly.

The (conservative) Manager Like no other, the manager is able to watch the company. Through one’s search for certainties, one attaches great importance to rules and procedures. Focused on the short term, one keeps the overview in an otherwise chaotic situation. One likes to stay in control and seeks order. One structures the company into an efficiently operating enterprise and a schedule is drawn up for the smallest detail. Little is left to chance. One structures the work into a flawlessly running business, in which everyone knows one’s duties and authorities. However, when changes loom, the manager is at an utter loss because the rules are suddenly no longer usable. One truly likes to use rules that have proven their success and sticks to them rigorously. One does not like change and insists that everyone abides by the rules. If not, a comment will inevitably follow. One accepts that things should be done as they have always been done, even though it does not comply with one’s own idea. One has a sense of responsibility. One takes care of matters to perfection. That makes the manager loyal and a person of integrity.


All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney


Personal characteristics: who are you really?

How do you develop the thinking style of a Manager? You can develop your brain and your thinking styles. After all, learning happens in your brain. If the thinking style of Manager applies to you less, you can develop it by doing the following exercises regularly: • M  ake a ‘To Do’ list and check off what you have done. • Create your own business (house) rules and procedures on how one should act or work. • Come to an appointment earlier than planned. • Keep a log of the things you do every day. • Organize or reorganize the folders in your computer or clean your desk according to a certain structure. • Try working out the details of a project or task that you are doing. • Look at the risks and dangers of a decision that needs to be made, without taking into account your feelings. • Put together your income and expenses of a certain period. • Choose something that you have been putting off and finish it now. • Set priorities for the week or day.

The (Analytical) Specialist The specialistis well informed about all developments in one’s field. One knows all the ins and outs of one’s profession. One forms an image of events from one’s experience and knowledge, causing one to come to the right decision independently and rationally. One always dishes up the best alternatives. The specialistis individualistic and realistic. One distinguishes oneself by the desire to be the best, at least in one’s field. One is often critical and must first be convinced that something works before one trusts it. One prides oneself to know it better or to be better able. One takes reality as a given and tries to perform the best one can. The disadvantage of this type is that one can have a perfectionistic and sometimes also authoritarian attitude. When it comes to one’s profession, one does not avoid discussion. Delivering quality is a top priority for the specialist. Communicating and interacting with people is more difficult for one and consequently, selling is not really one’s cup of tea. One believes a good product will sell itself.


How do you develop the thinking style of a Specialist? It is possible to train your brain. You can develop your preference for a certain thinking style (further) as well as the thinking styles that are less natural to you. If the thinking style of Specialist applies to you less, you can train it with the following exercises: • E xamine an annual report of a company, preferably the annual account of your own business, without directly worrying about what exactly it says. • Calculate the time it takes you to make a product or deliver a service. • Learn to work with a software program and then explain someone else how it works. • Set some targets for this year. • Perform a statistical analysis of, for example, how many clients you have to sell to per day or week in order to realize a certain turnover. • For a decision you have to make, put all the facts together and weigh the pros and cons of the decision in a systematic way, for example by giving it points of importance. • Evaluate an emotional decision that you have made in a rational way. • Write down your criticism on things that you think are not going well in (the start of) your company. • In making a decision that adversely affects another, play the part of ‘devil’s advocate,’ or critically view the decision from the viewpoint of the other person. • Lose yourself in the operation of a device and ask yourself how it works.

Conclusion Personal characteristics as the second element of the entrepreneurial competence are shaped by characteristics and thinking styles, and are necessary for the continuity of the company. The main characteristics are Need for achievement, Need for autonomy, Dominance, Social Orientation, Self belief, Endurance and Risk taking. Thinking styles largely determine from which angle a situation or issue is approached and they thus largely determine the behavior shown. Four thinking styles for entrepreneurs have been identified: Pioneer, Salesperson, Manager and Specialist. Every entrepreneur has all thinking styles, but has a natural preference for one or more thinking styles.


Be different

Show what you got

4.3. Qualities: what can you do well? mot iva ti


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Figure 5: Third element of competence: qualities. Qualities say something about what you can do well. Qualities are thus not the same as characteristics. The crux of the difference lies in the ability to learn it. Characteristics are a fairly fixed given and are therefore not easy to change or learn (in a short time). Qualities can be learned more easily and quickly. Trainings for, for example, creativity and leadership have proven that. You can probably imagine that you need other qualities for the start of a company than in the phase of strong growth. An inventor can make something out of nothing. One is a true starter. Nevertheless, how will it go with the pioneer when the idea is viable, when staff should be hired and a workable organization should be set up? The pioneer, who was fiddling in one’s shed so brilliantly, now has to manage all of a sudden. Not the unique product is central, but the effectiveness of the business organization is. Marketing comes into play and the art of cooperation is to be practiced. If one is not a very good manager, one has an important decision to make as one needs to put someone who is a better manager at the head of one’s company. In other words, this person is someone who is more suited to the new situation in which one’s firm finds itself. This way, every phase of a company requires different qualities. In short, organizations grow or shrink. As an entrepreneur, you should follow the ascending or descending movement. This means that your role can change significantly over time and that other qualities are consequently required of you. In total, a company can go through four phases: the Early phase, the Expansion phase, the Adult phase and the Contraction phase. The four phases together are called the Business Lifecycle. These phases are important to the qualities needed, which also differ per phase. Before discussing the qualities, the contents of the different phases of a company are explained below.


Qualities: what can you do well?

4.3.1 The phases of a company The business lifecycle generally has four phases of development: no growth, modest growth, strong growth and decreasing growth. A company can go through each phase more than once. After a phase of declining growth, a phase of modest growth may come, followed by a phase of strong growth. Thus, one speaks of a cycle. It looks like an S-curve as shown in the figure below. Both ascending and descending movements are possible. The first phase is called the early phase. You usually start small. Most attention is paid to building and organizing the company. One still has to take care of many practical issues. Usually, there is no growth yet and one still has to start finding customers. The initial growth is emerging once the demand for products or services increases. This growth does not have to be a logical consequence of your efforts. Growth often occurs by chance and sometimes, you are even overwhelmed by a large order. This may mean that the first employee(s) must be hired. The company heavily relies on you as an entrepreneur. Strong growth emerges when the company connects with the market. Business management becomes complex and you lose the overview. A need for clear rules and a clear structure increasingly arises from the organization. Tasks and responsibilities should be delegated. The company becomes less dependent on you as an entrepreneur.

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. Steve Jobs


Due to the smooth organization, the company loses touch with the market and growth declines. The phase of decreasing growth or contraction phase can occur anytime. For example, if growth declines after the first phase of growth and nothing is done, this can result in the termination of the company.

Company size in revenues

The transition from one phase to another occurs because the existing structure cannot handle further growth. The transitions are difficult to identify. You can feel them as an entrepreneur, but they are not always visible. Sometimes, a conflict is necessary for the company to be able to take the next step. Common company life cycle Possible company life cycle I





No growth Small growth Strong growth Decreasing growth


Figure 6: business lifecycle.


Qualities: what can you do well?

The cycle of four phases does not only relate to the development of the company once it has started, but it can also be applied in the period that precedes the start of a company. During the startup of a company, there are roughly four phases as well:

Before the start: From idea to start. The concept phase The process leading to a (successful) business starts with an idea or, if you like, a concept. The idea is present in your imagination a lot and in this phase, it is the great challenge to give shape to the still vague idea concretely. This may be the drawing or the production of a prototype or a detailed description of a service. This business phase is characterized by fantasizing, thinking and imagining. You are obsessed with your idea and the possibilities it offers (the Eureka feeling is present 24 hours a day: is this the gateway to success, fame and fortune?).

There are entrepreneurs who never get beyond this phase. They are pioneers at heart, they call themselves inventor and they devise ingenious solutions one after another. Once their idea has reached the phase of prototype, they let it go as soon as possible, preferably by selling the idea to a (production) company for much money of course. Unfortunately, most ‘genius’ ideas die in beauty as they turn out to be unworkable in practice, too expensive or not as genius as the inventor had thought initially. The true pioneer will not be put off by this: one starts to work on a new idea, but now one that is genius!

The product phase The initial reactions to the (prototype) product or service are of great importance for sharpening it. Friends or potential clients act as guinea pig. Being able to empathize well with the experience of the customer and being able to listen are qualities needed in this phase. The planning phase The feeling that has a clear role in previous phases has to give way to a more rational view on the product and the market on which you are going to focus. Choices have to be made and a business plan should be drawn up showing the feasibility (both the combination product-market and the finances). Being able to work systematically and being able to work out things in detail are important. Understanding the market (marketing) and some numeracy skills (administration) are preferred. The start or stop phase The time has come that the company is actually started. It is also possible that the start is canceled because, in retrospect, the original idea proves not to be viable. The question whether to start requires an objective opinion on the feasibility of the plan. This requires an independent, critical and analytical view. The mind reigns supreme in this phase. Through targeted questions, it becomes clear what gaps exist in the plan and what needs some sharpening.




Role: Salesperson Character: Feel




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Role: Manager Character: Do

Role: Pioneer Character: Think


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Role: Specialist Character: Judge

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Figure 7: The four phases of starting a company.

After the start: From startup to fall down Once the company is a fact, the same cycle as in preparation awaits you as an entrepreneur. Preparation might have taken half a year up to one and a half years, but the idea is that the existence of the company will take a little longer. Fortunately, the phases go a bit slower and smoother. Therefore, you have plenty of time to respond to the different phases. Unfortunately, practice shows that time is not enough. You should also recognize that you are entering a new phase requiring different qualities. Early phase The initial phase has no growth and is characterized by chaos mainly. The young company is a new stranger in the area and you especially have to pioneer to get your business started. Dynamics, uncertainty and chaos characterize the start-up company. Expansion phase The company is in harmony with the environment once the first sales have been made and the product or service seems to catch on. Then it becomes crucial to intensify the sales efforts and to act decisively. Mature phase The stronger the organization grows, the stronger the desire is to keep that growth under control: keep everything rolling. Precisely by managing, the order within the organization can be preserved. Thanks to strong management and thus an orderly organization, it is possible to take full advantage of the favorable market and to maximize profits. Contraction phase However, a sleek organization adapts less easily when the market changes. Growth is declining, by the arrival of a competitor, for example, or by changes in customer needs. Soon a conflict emerges for which you need to find an answer. An objective picture of the deteriorating situation should be formed.


Qualities: what can you do well?

Again The contraction phase may end in the end of the company, for example, because it has gone bankrupt or because it has been taken over by a competitor. However, if your company is (still) vital, the cycle above can start over again. This may happen in many ways, for example, by taking over a competitor yourself, creating a new company. Chaos is the starting point again and much pioneering should be done (again). In addition, a new product or service is an option, as part of the existing company, or as a new subsidiary or sister company. Tapping into a new (foreign) market is also a perfect step to turn the contraction phase into a new pioneering phase.

Contraction phase Character: Conflict Role: Specialist + Financial accounting - Leadership - Dominance Mature phase Character: Order Role: Manager + Planning & organizing + Dominance - Creativity

Early phase Character: Chaos Role: Pioneer + Creative + Independence - Planning & organizing - Financial accounting Expansion phase Character: Harmony Role: Sales person + Sociale orientation - Perseverance - Independence

Figure 8: The four phases after the start of a company. The four phases carry with them certain characteristics. For instance, the early phase is characterized by chaos, while the mature phase is characterized by order. In those characteristic phases, another role or thinking style is also required of you. For instance, the chaotic early phase requires the thinking style of the pioneer, the sales-oriented expansion phase requires the salesperson, the controlled mature phase requires the manager and finally, the critical contraction phase requires the specialist. Nevertheless, the thinking styles are also well reflected in the phases prior to the start. The idea phase requires the thinking style of the pioneer, the product phase requires the thinking style of the salesperson, the planning phase requires the thinking style of the manager and finally, the phase in which it is decided whether the company is going to be started or not requires the qualities of the specialist. In the next paragraph, the most important qualities of the early phase and the mature phase of a company are described.


I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Michelangelo

Do you really want to grow? Yes? Then here is how to grow. Based on the metaphor of the big smile of entrepreneurship. Eyes open VISIONING

Eyes closed REFLECTING

Create a vision and always keep the end in mind.

Reflect regularly. Where am I? How far am I? How well am I doing?



Keep your customers and co-workers smiling. Again and Again.

Regularly monitor your finance and cashflow.


Qualities: what can you do well?

4.3.2 The early phase: when you have just started In the early phase, the main task is putting the product or service on the market and gain sales with it. You work with minimal investments and you have to be very market-oriented. The product should meet the customer’s needs. By responding to the demands of customers and, if necessary, adapting the product, enough sales can be achieved to create financial conditions for successful growth. As a starting entrepreneur, you should be able to listen to your customers well, thanks to whom you gain knowledge and experience. The successful, starting entrepreneur is able to adapt one’s product to what the customer wants. This also requires creativity and flexibility. Important qualities for the early phase • market awareness • creativity • flexibility Market awareness What makes someone market-oriented? What characteristics does a market-oriented entrepreneur have? That is the central question of this quality. The task of the pioneer is to ensure that the product closely meets the wishes of the customer. You are market-oriented when you: • Have contact with (potential) customers. • Visit exhibitions regularly. • Go over industry data. • Enquire authorities. • Have market research conducted. • Follow the competition. • Stay informed of the competitor(s): product range composition, market share, new products, sales and overall financial situation. • Are sensitive to and make use of the market, the business environment and trends therein. General description Market awareness A market-oriented entrepreneur can empathize with the needs of (potential) customers and create a link to one’s own business management. Successful entrepreneurs respond to the specific needs of a clearly defined target audience. They can also accurately indicate what their competitors do. They follow (trade) magazines and talk with clients in order to anticipate changes in the market. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs have little eye for the needs of their customers. They are often more product-oriented and do not have a clear target in mind.


How do you develop market and customer awareness? You become more market-oriented by keeping an eye on your market. This means that you must be fed with as much information as possible. You obtain information by reading newspapers, watching TV and talking with customers, competitors, people on the street or in the queue for a cash register at the supermarket. Everywhere you are, look around you. Then ask yourself what this could mean for your business. By doing this consistently, you develop a kind of third eye that scans developments in and around your business. Customer-oriented people have an eye for the relationship between the customer and the organization. That relationship is often complicated. This includes not only many different areas (sales, provision of information, communication, service), but also various human aspects (expectations, wishes, ideas). Many organizations have different departments, which each look at the customer in their own way. The credit control department sees a different person in the customer than the sales department does. The following tips can help you become more customer-oriented: • Put the customer first in your behavior. • Have respect for the customer; after all, this person pays your income. You are service-oriented: you love doing things for another. • Always seek a solution. • Put yourself in the customer’s position and try to understand how the customer experiences the problem. It is not the same as the problem or its cause. • First listen to the customer and ask questions before telling about your product. Try to learn as much as possible.

Creativity With creativity, many people first think of being able to paint or sculpt well. This means that they are focused on doing, but I am aiming more at thinking here. How well and how often do you come up with new and original ideas and solutions? Creativity increases when you open yourself up more to what you experience. The ability to ‘play’ with thoughts is an indispensable prerequisite for creativity. You are creative when you: • Generate and implement new, useful ideas to start a new business. • Are open to new concepts, ideas, opinions, beliefs and thoughts of others. • Are able to handle conflicting information without losing sight of the big picture and you come up with multiple solutions. • Display a certain amount of playfulness and have an intuitive way of thinking. Creativity can be learned. It is a way of thinking that enables everyone to come up with new and innovative ideas.


Qualities: what can you do well?

General description Creativity Creativity is the ability to ‘play’ with ideas and to see and try new possibilities. Successful entrepreneurs are open to what is happening in their surroundings. In doing so, they are not hampered by limitations of the situation, but challenged by the possibilities. They have the ability to think from different angles and to exit trodden paths. They can turn problems into opportunities and are not afraid to take risks. Non-successful entrepreneurs are limited in their thinking and they are up for the experiment less quickly.

How do you develop Creativity? Psychological research has yielded four ways in which you can be up to ten times more creative: • R  emember ideas that come to mind by writing them down. So, always keep a notebook close. New ideas mainly come up under certain circumstances. For many people, that is in bed, in the shower or on the road. Others need rest, or inspiration of a beautiful environment. Whatever your idea moments are, make sure you can record new thoughts that come to mind immediately. • Challenge yourself by thinking of alternatives for things you normally do without thinking. Think of different solutions for the same problem. Accelerate the flow of new ideas by challenging yourself. That is, put yourself in a difficult situation in which that which you try is not likely to succeed at all. Under the challenge’s pressure, your brain searches for solutions that have worked in other situations. • Broaden your knowledge and skills. Read about your field as much as possible. Creativity arises by applying knowledge and skills to new situations. However, you need to have that knowledge and those skills in the first place. The more you know and are capable of, the more creative you will be. • Surround yourself with various stimuli. Go somewhere you have never been before, or go somewhere you would normally not go to in the first place. Take a different route to work or home. Try walking around your house in the dark and put a funny toy on your desk when you are at work. Listen to different music. You may call it distraction, but it is a great source of creativity.

Flexibility Flexibility means knowing four basic activities, which together form a process. These activities include Observing, Interpreting, Anticipating and Responding. They describe the process of action and reaction. The first two activities, Observing and Interpreting, correspond to the way a market-oriented and creative person perceives. The last two activities, Anticipating and Responding, describe how one will respond to that perception. Whether and how quickly one reacts determines the degree of flexibility. Flexibility is a combination of change capacity and resistivity. In change capacity, it is about the ability and willingness to change. Here, the following characteristic is given: • T  hat you are stable, have an ability to change, have an ability to resist, that you are open to experience and that you are dynamic, stress resistant and relativizing.


When it comes to resistivity, it is about being a match for change, so that you do not go along with every change. Here, the following characteristic is given: • That you have improvisation and adaptability capacity in changes in the surroundings. General description Flexibility Flexibility is synonymous with adaptability here. Successful entrepreneurs respond to changes they observe in the surroundings, such as new customer demands or new competitors in the market. They assess opportunities or threats for their effects and adjust their (corporate) plan accordingly. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs are hardly willing to adapt. They resist, and they can be stubborn and rigid.

If you want to become more flexible, you can do the following. Try to look at a changed situation as objectively as possible. Determine what your familiar thinking pattern and working method are. Take a moment to consider what positive things in the new situation can help you improve your working method. A changed situation also offers opportunities and thus improvement of the way you used to do things. It is mainly a matter of looking at things differently. Strive for innovation. You will notice that you accept changes more easily. If you are experiencing resistance from your surroundings, please move away from your own opinion. You do not have to abandon your opinion, but do not say this opinion immediately and do not finish with it either. Summarize what the different opinions are, and indicate that you want to come to a solution. The other will be more inclined to think of a solution together, and – remember this – you too. You can now make a deal more easily. If you already are flexible but you do not want to go overboard with it, this can help you. Being able to adjust well and to go along with changes well does not mean that you always have to say yes. Guard your own values and what you find truly important. Saying this directly is the easiest thing to do; the moment you think of it or at the beginning of a conversation. The longer you wait, the harder it is for you to say ‘no.’

4.3.3 The mature phase: When your company has grown In the mature phase, the main task is making profit. Profit is now necessary to invest in goods, working capital and personnel with which the organizational basis for further growth is created. The low-cost operation should be developed into a mature company. It is necessary to get that second layer that can contradict the director/owner if necessary. Manageability becomes an important point of attention in further growth. In this phase, a sound financial policy should be implemented. As an entrepreneur, you should be able to lead, organize and plan. Because profit becomes important in this phase, the entrepreneur must have or get an interest in money and numbers. Financial management should therefore belong to your qualities too. 97

Qualities: what can you do well?

Important qualities in the mature phase • leadership • organizing and planning • financial management The qualities in the mature phase, which are discussed below, can be developed. You can follow numerous courses. Because the content of these courses is too extensive to explain in short, you will not find information about it in this book. I refer you to the large amount of information available on the Internet. How you can develop your entrepreneurship on a regular basis. Leadership Leadership is primarily bridging the gap between the entrepreneurial plans and carrying them out (or having them carried out). This means that you need to create a common direction with your employees. Consequently, you as an entrepreneur mainly need to focus on the employees and their commitment to the company. Leadership is therefore impossible if you do not love people (a little) and/or cannot handle them. There are two types of leadership: task-oriented and people-oriented. Task-oriented leadership involves assigning responsibilities and monitoring the performance of tasks, while people-oriented leadership involves motivating employees and keeping them committed. Leaders are visionaries with confidence and do not give up quickly. Leadership can best be described by the following characteristics: • S peaking with subordinates as equals, developing initiatives, showing respect for both superiors and subordinates, being firm and purposeful, showing no preferences, showing interest in every employee, and informing employees in advance about changes with which one will be faced. • Delegating, involving employees in decisions, exercising relatively little discipline, encouraging mutual communication, having less formal meetings, motivating employees, achieving plans and goals timely, leading in times of crises and fulfilling promises and obligations. • Leading employees through difficulties and changes, and helping them; tightening the organizational structure by applying a personal influence. General description Leadership Leadership has to do with managing people in a human, task-oriented way. Successful entrepreneurs know how to assess and manage people. Successful entrepreneurs understand that their role is a leading one and these entrepreneurs are happy to help others by giving them the space and confidence they need, but not without a proper system of control. Less successful entrepreneurs are too happy to do it themselves and generally have less confidence in their own people. After all, they can do it better. Organizing and planning Organizing and planning mainly relate to the employees. Their tasks and activities have to be organized and planned. Nowadays, it is expected of many employees that they can plan their own tasks, but in fact, the organization should take care of that.


The organization is to ensure that employees can perform their tasks and responsibilities the best possible way. You can organize and plan well if you: • Systematically design and control the work of others. • Employ sources inside and outside the company. • Develop an efficient system of procedures without having to enter unnecessary hierarchical layers. • Plan work and set targets for employees as well as for the organization. General description Organizing and planning Organizing and planning include the design and implementation of an efficient and effective system for the work of employees. Successful entrepreneurs can organize well, and can assess their own work and that of their employees in terms of time and quantity. Less successful entrepreneurs tend to be tempted by the chaos of everyday life and they lose their focus sooner. Financial management In financial management, it is vital to have insight into numbers and money. This means that an entrepreneur should be able to draw up the financial conduct of business, or at least understand and apply it. That one should be able to work with financial data is evident. However, financial management obviously has a clear link with the competence element of knowledge too. It is clear that this is about the basics of economics: balance sheet, solvency, liquidity, working capital, profit and loss account etc. You are capable of financial management if you: • Use financial data in business management. • Deal with controlling: using monthly figures and facts in monitoring the company and taking precautions. • Look ahead in advance by translating your vision into a long-term budget with projections for the monthly results, cash flows and current account positions. General description Financial management Financial management means being able to keep a good balance between costs and expenses. Successful entrepreneurs actively use their ability to anticipate the future in advance and translate this into financial forecasts with or without the help of a business consultant. Successful entrepreneurs do not see the bank as a threat; they rather see the bank as an opportunity to realize their (personal) goal. Less successful entrepreneurs show a lack of interest in their (future) financial position. Conclusion Qualities, as the third element of the entrepreneurial competence, differ by phase of the business lifecycle. The early phase and expansion phase have the task to make as many sales as possible. It requires qualities such as Market awareness, Creativity and Flexibility. The mature phase has a different task, namely to achieve maximum profit. This requires qualities like Leadership, Organizing and planning, and Financial management.


Be different

You know more than you think

4.4 Knowledge: Do you know what others know? ge ed l w


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Figure 9: Fourth element of competence: knowledge and experience. Knowledge is the fourth and last element and has of course all to with knowing. Knowledge refers to the more factual or business aspects that have to do with entrepreneurship. These aspects include knowing the rules associated with the conduct of an orderly administration, naming the principles of marketing, knowing the difference between debit and credit or knowing the legislation. Experience also forms a part of knowledge. Indeed, it is knowledge gained, which is learned in practice (of entrepreneurship) for example. However, knowledge alone says little about how it is applied. What someone has learned can be evaluated in a subsequent situation, when one actually uses that which is learned. In order to be an entrepreneur, you need to know a number of things, or as we prefer to say it: it is not so much what you know, but who you know that knows it. After all, you do not have to have the knowledge yourself. This knowledge can also be hired, as witnessed by the many consultants available. However, remember that everyone has an opinion, but it does not mean one is also an expert. So, know what others know! Here, I would like to elaborate on the knowledge areas that are important to the conduct of business. These knowledge areas are important in every industry; the most important ones are covered in the business plan. I mention here: knowledge of the market, environment, people, production and finance. SMEs do not apply the business plan that much. For example, only a financial planning or budget is drawn up. What is the reason that few (starting) entrepreneurs draw up a business plan? The excuses I often hear are no time, lack of information, lack of knowledge or money and “What is the point; you cannot predict the future.� However, it is intended primarily to structure your thoughts about the future and to calculate matters. It forces you to make choices. Therefore, it leads to more knowledge of your business and the environment in which your business operates.


Knowledge: Do you know what others know?

• M  arket: market position and competition, marketing knowledge, communications and sales promotion, market research, innovation and developments. • Finance: financial analysis and forms of financing, business economic and financial knowledge, business information and developments. • Production: quality, procurement and supply chain management, production and innovation, technology (ICT) and developments (in case of the provision of service, it involves the provision of service process). • People: organization, personnel management, monitoring and replacement, and developments. • Environment: external contacts, environment, legislation and developments. It is necessary to consider all aspects. The company, you as an entrepreneur and your surroundings should be understood as an integrated whole. However, the business plan is more than just a single document that tends to disappear in the bottom drawer. By continuously updating the plan with the results, you keep the plan up-to-date. This is how you keep focused on the future. Every entrepreneur knows that this is not easy. You as an entrepreneur should have knowledge of many different knowledge areas, and continuously updating the business plan is not an easy job. Luckily, you can hire that business knowledge. You do not need to know it all yourself as long as you know how to know it. The way in which one acquires and uses knowledge plays a role too, of course. After all, knowledge is the outcome of a thinking and learning process: how do you gain knowledge? Some mostly learn by doing and experiencing (the doers), while others learn by reading and studying the theory before putting it into practice (the thinkers). One learning style is not better than the other learning style. I will not elaborate on this in this book, but it is important that you figure out what your way of learning is. How do you learn so you can take it all in well?


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! The entrepreneur doesn’t have to know anything, as long as he knows how to arrange it. Martijn Driessen


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Entrepreneur Scan

Entrepreneur Scan What makes the Entrepreneur Scan so important that you have to take yours? Self-knowledge is of great importance in the journey towards successful entrepreneurship. However, how do you gain self-knowledge about your suitability for entrepreneurship, especially when you have not started a company yet? That lack of self-knowledge shows itself in the statistics: after the fifth year, almost 50% of all starting entrepreneurs have quit, or worse, have gone bankrupt. Apparently, entrepreneurship is not what they thought it would be. Thanks to the Dutch scientists who have developed the Entrepreneur Scan, you can quickly get a more objective understanding of your entrepreneurial profile in a detailed report. The report clearly shows your strengths and weaknesses, what weaknesses need to be refined, and how the weaknesses need to be developed. You will receive practical tips on how to develop both your strengths and weaknesses, or to weaken “too strong� strengths. Your test results are compared with successful peers. You as an entrepreneur will get insight into areas for development, but remember that you cannot separate the test results from your personal matters or situation. It is a snapshot; you take the test for yourself. After all, it is about increasing your self-knowledge as an entrepreneur. You can start immediately with this handy and valuable tool.

How can E-Scan help you? Visit More than 500,000 people took their E-Scan


About the author From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. First, I wanted to own a barbershop; later, I traded this idea for the idea of owning my own hotel. According to a necessary school test, I should have gone to the lowest level of secondary school, but I had the chance to start at mid-level. Things were going well, and soon after, I went to pre-university school. I finished it successfully. Then, I wanted to go to the Hospitality Management School. There are strict entry requirements for admittance in the Netherlands. About 2,500 people signed up, of which only 240 would be admitted. To increase my chances, I visited multiple luxurious five star hotels at the age of fourteen. I wanted to start a hotel once I completed the Hotel Management School, but it felt as if I was not done learning yet. Therefore, I went to the School for Business Administration, completing the three years of required study in two years. I did not want to do my graduation internship project at a large company and while a friend in Prague introduced me to a company, I had to think of an assignment on my own. In Prague, I came up with the idea of the E-Scan (the entrepreneur scan). I graduated with this idea. In 1997, I was 27 years old and I started the company Entrepreneur Consultancy. I won the public prize “Starter of the Year” in a competition held by the Dutch employers’ organization. In addition to starting my own company, I completed my PhD in Entrepreneurship at the University of Groningen. I have started multiple businesses, some of which I have sold and some of which I was forced to stop. Nowadays, the E-Scan is available in three languages, and it is used successfully in multiple countries worldwide. You could say that this was a thesis that got completely out of hand. The mission of Entrepreneur Consultancy is developing entrepreneurship worldwide. It is our passion to make people more entrepreneurial. We do this through practical products and smart services based on scientific research. Whether you are a student, an entrepreneur or a successful business owner, we can help you become and stay entrepreneurial.



Feedback With this book I want to make clear what I believe, supported with scientific research, what an independent business owner is and what an entrepreneurial entrepreneur is, but more importantly, which characteristics and capabilities are required and how to develop them. This book is based on my PhD thesis: Entrepreneur Scan, measuring and developing entrepreneurial competencies. Beside my extensive literature search, I have done much research among established and starting entrepreneurs, especially because the E-Scan is a practical product that is meant for entrepreneurial practice. Science is at the service of practice. Only if (starting) entrepreneurs and intermediaries benefit from its use will it be a valuable tool produced by research. There is a big difference between theory and practice. A significant gap between gathering and supplying knowledge. Knowledge in itself is not the most important thing. What you do with that gained (self) knowledge is important. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish with this book and the E-Scan. I can imagine that this book and the E-Scan have given you new insights. If so, I’m interested in hearing your story. You can mail them to You will help me, as well as others in the process.



nedloG ehT Egg

hcaorppa cfiitneics A a emoceb ot woh no ruenerpertne lufsseccus ISBN/EAN 978-90-811019-6-7

Dr. Martijn Driessen

The Golden Egg  

How to become a successful entrepreneur. That's the main topic of this book. Based on scientific research on entrepreneurship by the author...

The Golden Egg  

How to become a successful entrepreneur. That's the main topic of this book. Based on scientific research on entrepreneurship by the author...