It’s not easy to condense entrepreneurship into just a few words. But I’ve had to do it and the best I can come up with is: problems, ideas, actions.
Seeing problems, imagining ideas for solutions and taking action is the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset. What’s critical to that equation is that you need all three. If you only ever see problems, you’re just a complainer. If you only ever see problems and imagine solutions, you’re a dreamer. But, if you’re able to see problems, imagine solutions AND take action, then you’re an entrepreneur.
Taking action is by far the hardest because it makes us uncomfortable. Remember what Aristotle said:
To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.
Most people would rather not take action in order to avoid potential criticism. But, without the action, you can’t be an entrepreneur.
In my workshops, I push hard to get students to think of a small way to take action. I found a great question combo in order to get them thinking more creatively about how they could make progress right away.
The first question is: what do you need to get started?
To this most students reply, “money, donations, connections, a developer” etc…
The next question is: how might you get started without any of those things?
Then students get creative with responses like, “I could email my principal. I could ask a friend who owns this business if we could partner. I could sketch out the app on paper.” etc…
The first question doesn’t elicit actions, but the second does. The responses to the second question are the seed of what will turn into the next steps that will really hook someone on this idea of entrepreneurship. Once they actually send that email, or partner with a business or host the lemonade stand, then they’ll get the bug.
When teaching entrepreneurship, my goal is to get students to feel the magic. There is a large degree of empowerment that comes when you realize you could actually send an email and start making change happen. You don’t need anyone’s permission. It’s entirely up to you. No need to wait for more money, more education or some blessing from an adult.
To start, you don’t need any of those things. All you need to do is act. Progress begets progress. Forward motion is hard to stop. Take your first step forward and just keep moving.