We live in a fast-changing world. I am sure you’ve noticed it. New ventures and entrepreneurs pop up everywhere all the time. We all know that entrepreneurs drive economic growth and market demand. Also, they create businesses and skilled job opportunities. According to research by the Kauffman Foundation, without the jobs from SMEs (including startups), employment growth would be negative.
Entrepreneurs can change the way we live and work, and have the potential of improving our standards of living and creating social change. Research also suggests that entrepreneurship is the most effective way of integrating minorities and those who feel alienated, promoting a well-composed plural society.
Weak Entrepreneurial Culture in Belgium
Unfortunately, Belgium ranks among the poorest performers in the EU on entrepreneurship.
Notwithstanding having a vibrant startup environment and benefiting from good market conditions, Belgium ranks average in regulatory framework, access to finance (in particular traditional banking financing) and entrepreneurial capabilities.
However, Belgium presents a heavy administrative burden and ranked lowest among the EU15 between 2009 and 2015 in terms of entrepreneurship culture. In fact, Belgian entrepreneurs appear to be much more driven by necessity than any other European counterpart (contrasting with opportunity driven).
Scientific evidence suggests that the very weak entrepreneurship culture in Belgium is the main obstacle for business and job creation. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, high potential entrepreneurs create, on average, 3 to 15 times more jobs than other entrepreneurs. In fact, it is estimated that these entrepreneurs create as much as 38% of all jobs in an economy.
The correlation between entrepreneurship and economic development suggests that governments must be able to identify, nurture, cultivate and motivate high potential entrepreneurs. Although several policy measures have been adopted in recent years to foster entrepreneurship and lighten the administrative burden faced by Belgian entrepreneurs, finding ways of promoting an entrepreneurial culture in Belgium is a priority.
8 Amazing Traits of High Potential Entrepreneurs
Many sociology and anthropology experts argue that culture is learned, social, shared and transmitted. Therefore, creating a more entrepreneurial culture is an education and literacy challenge.
What could we learn from the amazing mind of high potential entrepreneurs?
- Curiosity is Power
Entrepreneurs and smart people can be close-minded at times. Succeeding as a startup has nothing to do with being smart, but a lot to do with being insatiably curious and embracing a learning mindset. Listening to people, continuously learning and fine-tuning primary features instead of mindlessly building new ones. Great entrepreneurs focus on learning by checking the real world, by getting out of the building and accepting that everything they read in books, might be wrong.
- Sharing is Learning
Successful entrepreneurs are not afraid of sharing their ideas. They talk about them all the time. Not getting feedback that their idea is not good or the best one in solving a specific problem scares them more than having someone stealing it. Feedback is essential to learn and learning is one of the main objectives for entrepreneurs (see above).
- Funding ≠ Success
The success of a new venture has nothing to do with getting money from investors. Roughly 76% of startups acquired in 2012 did not get any funding (also called bootstrapping). Successful entrepreneurs are very aware of this.
- Hire Smart
Early hires are key. As an innovation consultant working with startups, I have witnessed this personally over and over again. Entrepreneurs trust their gut and if they feel something is wrong, they will not hire the candidate. Google still uses this approach.
- Growth! Growth! Growth!
If something has nothing to do with growth, the best is to ignore it. This way, what entrepreneurs need to do becomes crystal clear.
- It’s a Marathon
There is no such thing as an overnight success. Only in rare cases do new ventures deliver value in the first year of existence. Entrepreneurs know that, after validating the problem and solution, they must persevere and not pivot too early. Having a well-defined purpose helps.
Success is based on luck, timing, the idea, the team, the network, etc. It takes time to get all of these aligned.
Communicating and managing expectations, specially when talking about co-founders, is a big challenge. Entrepreneurs argue with their co-founders. At the end of the day, everyone is striving for the same thing: success. Not holding grudges and being able to communicate clearly is key.
- Wear Failure with Pride
Failing is part of being an entrepreneur. Failing is a learning opportunity and is common among first-time entrepreneurs. Most successful entrepreneurs failed many times and are not ashamed of it.
Europe, and Belgium in particular, need more entrepreneurs. We must all get involved in fostering an entrepreneurial culture and promoting the right mindset among our younger generations. Every single person, parent, teacher, business professional and policymaker has a role to play.
Now that you know the traits of high potential entrepreneurs, what will you do about it?