I think, therefore I am
“Entrepreneurs are born and not bred” goes the saying. While there is some truth in this statement, after many years of working alongside business creators and sharing their individual journeys, Ian White, Director, Qatar Skills Academy, discusses that this is not the whole story and shares with us what really makes an entrepreneur.
ver time, I have noticed that enterprising people come in all shapes and sizes and from no particular place. They can burst suddenly onto the scene from relative obscurity, dominating the media and the stock traders’ tittle-tattle or they amass vast empires by working away diligently- carefully avoiding the limelight, more concerned with substance than style, value rather than their vanity. This raises the question of whether someone becomes an entrepreneur through choice and deliberate action, or are they simply fulfilling a destiny for which they have been fully equipped? Whatever the answer to that question might be the fact remains that our current global society likes entrepreneurs, wants more of them and is prepared to reward them. From post-communist Russia to reforming China; from Silicon Valley in California USA to Silicon Fen in Cambridge UK; and now in Qatar, entrepreneurs are encouraged and celebrated. The issue is, therefore, what should be done to create favourable conditions and by whom, to achieve the right outcome. There is some logic in the argument that the people who are destined to become successful entrepreneurs need no assistance. The fact that these people have conquered, where others have failed proves their capability. However, this quasi-Darwinian attitude of survival of the fittest might be too harsh for economies which are struggling for growth. Ignoring the talents of all but a few may be a waste of potential.
One aspect of entrepreneurship which has become accepted over the last decade is that entrepreneurs are not restricted to the commercial private sector. In what can be seen as a reaction against global business trends, “localisation” is creating thousands of social enterprises developed and run by individuals with social capital rather than a shareholder profit, as the driving motive. Entrepreneurs are exceptionally valuable in NGOs and employed “intrepreneurs” are recognised as key players working for a knowledge-based organisation. Is it therefore more pertinent to consider who an entrepreneur is, rather than what they do? In fact, until their occupation (or, more typically, multiple occupations) has been determined, referring to these individuals as enterprising people, gives one the freedom to focus on generic competences which define the person. It also helps us to avoid stereotypical portrayals or believe that all entrepreneurs are clones or aspirants of famous biographers. It is this examination of the “who” rather than the “what” which is the subject of Qatar Skills Academy’s “Understanding Enterprise”, a development programme running from the Bedaya Centre with the support of Qatar Development Bank and Silatech.
Identifying peronality traits An enterprising person demonstrates many different qualities, some even conflicting, which go on to determine a career path. One of the most important and guiding capabilities, is to possess a sufficient level of self-awareness to be able to control the use of one’s abilities and develop them according to the situation. This self-awareness is the line between confidence and determination or arrogance and delusion.