Entrepreneurship is as important as innovation for national and global economic growth. “Innovation is essential, and we need it. But the real magic starts with entrepreneurs,” according to Gallup Poll’s Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal. “Entrepreneurs create customers. And customers, in turn, create jobs and economic growth,” they add.
Countries need thinkers and doers. “Entrepreneurship is the horse, and innovation is the cart,” Clifton and Badal explain. Creativity, ideas, discovery and innovation are one side of the growth coin – the other side is commercialisation.
Their new book, ‘Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder,’ delves into the psychology of the entrepreneur. What are the personality characteristics and behaviours that lead to venture creation and success? Can one learn to be an entrepreneur, or is it a quality a person is born with?
The book and online questionnaire (accessible by a special code for those who buy the book) help aspiring founders answer these questions to discover their innate entrepreneurial talents along with areas of improvement for individuals and teams. The 161-page book is compact and makes for an engaging and thought-provoking read, for entrepreneurs as well as management consultants and coaches.
Just as there are tests for IQ and sports abilities, the authors advocate conducting tests on students and employees to see who are natural-born entrepreneurs and who can be nurtured to launch startups. This also has implications for transforming cities into innovation hubs; local government leadership and community activism has helped Austin become a creative hub (as compared to Albany).
“Each city has its own unique entrepreneurial talent – and each must find it, maximise it, and retain it,” Clifton and Badal advise. This can be done via testing, accelerated development programmes, specialised courses, meaningful internships and coaching.
Gallup conducted research on 2,500 entrepreneurs to understand what it takes to create a business, scale it, make profits and create jobs. The ten key talents of successful entrepreneurs are: business focus, confidence, creative thinking, delegation, determination, independence, knowledge-seeking, promotion, relationship-building and risk-taking.
Some level of talent is innate, some can be nurtured. Each of these traits can be classified in three levels: dominant, contributing and supporting. I have summarised the authors’ description of the ten talents along with challenges and action items in Table 1 below.
Table 1: 10 Talents of Successful Entrepreneurs
|Traits||Challenges||Action points for maximisation|
1. Business focus
|Profit-oriented, plan for growth, clear goals, alignment with business, tight operations||Can sometimes lose sight of customers||Use timelines and yardsticks, communicate clearly, focus on human element also, read a lot|
|Self-awareness, conviction in ability to succeed, action-oriented, pro-active||Over-confidence, haste, over-commitment||Plan ahead, prepare for contingencies, get diverse feedback, avoid the speed trap|
3. Creative thinker
|Firing off many ideas, curious, quick learner, exploratory, imaginative, alert||Difficult to work in a team, rushing off in many directions||Balance present and future, use metrics, prioritise, use simple structure, learn from failures|
|Collaborate, recognise and draw on people’s abilities, encourage team contribution||Abdicating responsibility, communication gaps||Map processes and skills, allow employees to perform, give effective feedback|
|Persistent, eager to act, confront obstacles, not deterred by roadblocks||Sticking with failing strategy, regret with failed steps||Share your optimism, partner with creative types, focus on big picture, be alert to environment|
|Resolute, faith in self, multi-tasking, responsible, multiple competencies, ‘can-do’||Burnout, difficulty in growing the team to scale the enterprise||Focus on main objective, form alliances, delegate, don’t let love for your product blind you|
|Anticipate and use knowledge, drive for in-depth information, knowledge as an asset||Generating too many new ideas, too many pivots||Write and share ideas, prioritise, get outside inputs, create a clear roadmap for changes|
|Communicator, speaks boldly, storyteller, ambassador, persuasive, enthusiastic||Becoming blind to flaws, lack of objectivity||Rehearse your story, use multiple media, build a whole community of evangelists and champions|
|Mutually-beneficial links inside and outside workplace, open, socially aware, integrity||Time management, focus, lack of diversity in networks||Diversify and renew networks, reciprocity, understand the local social landscape, be selective|
|Optimistic, rational decisions, charismatic, confident, will to win, can deal with complexity||Over-confidence, judgement errors, haste||Take incremental risks, cool off, map knowledge and scenarios, experiment systematically|
The book also has a number of inspiring quotes, and it would be good to end this review with the following samples. (See also my pick of the Top 10 Books of 2014 for Entrepreneurs and the app ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible for Apple and Android devices.)
“The thing about inventing is that you have to be both stubborn and flexible, more or less simultaneously.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon
“Do what you are best at and let others take care of the rest.” – Scott Heiferman, Meetup.com
“Don’t assume that you know all the answers. Be prepared to adapt.” – Chad Hurley, YouTube
“I can’t think of anything more fun than connecting people. People make businesses happen. It’s that simple.” – David Bradford
“Face-to-face telling of the right story in the right room at the right time and in the right way can galvanise listeners to action.” – Peter Guber, ex-Sony
“If you are hurt, lick your wounds and get up again.” – Richard Branson
“Creativity + Iterative Development = Innovation.” – James Dyson
About Jim and Dr.Sangeeta:
Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO of Gallup and author of ‘The Coming Jobs War.’ His most recent innovation, the Gallup World Poll, is designed to give the world’s seven billion citizens a voice in virtually all key global issues. Gallup has expanded from the U.S. and has 40 offices in 30 countries and regions. Clifton is also the creator of The Gallup Path, a metric-based economic model for the workplace, customer engagement and business outcomes.
Dr. Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal is the primary researcher for Gallup’s Entrepreneurship and Job Creation initiative, specially focused on SMBs. She is the author of the book ‘Gender, Social Structure and Empowerment: Status Report of Women in India.’ She earned her doctorate in anthropology and geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).