The word entrepreneur as we use it today can be traced to the 13th Century from the French verb entreprendre. That means “to do something” or “to undertake.” It was a term that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with business back then. Free market capitalism did not even exist in late Medieval Europe.
But by the year 1852, the term entrepreneur came to be used for what we widely accept it means today – “business manager.” An entrepreneur today can also refer to someone who is involved in a start-up enterprise.
Note that such a person may not be a business manager as yet. Perhaps they haven’t yet landed the funding they need to get started. However, they will still be viewed as an entrepreneur because they are getting started at “doing something” in the realm of business.
Social scientists, business writers, and other observers have spent countless hours studying entrepreneurship and those who fall within this category. What they have found is informative about what it takes to have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Some of these critical traits include:
The ability to persuade can be said to be synonymous with “the ability to sell.” Billionaire and TV’s “Shark Tank” mogul Mark Cuban lists this quality as the No. 1 prerequisite for making an excellent entrepreneur. One needs not only the skills to persuade others to buy a product, but equally important is the ability to persuade bankers, investors, and others to support your entrepreneurial goals.
Forbes magazine recently listed no less than nine different types of flexibility an entrepreneur must command if he or she wants to succeed. Flexibility is needed when a business owner must collaborate and cooperate with others, listen to team members’ ideas, and react to sudden changes in the business climate. For example, when the COVID pandemic hit, those most flexible entrepreneurs were the ones nimble enough to react and survive a radically changed circumstance.
Last but not least is the ability to think outside the box while keeping one’s feet planted on the ground. Great entrepreneurs are often lauded for their creative ideas, ingenuity, imagination, and fantastic sense of vision.
Creativity also entails the ability to apply innovation at a scale that inspires others to share the vision of the lead entrepreneur.