Archive for the ‘Business’ Tag
The go getter loves ‘The Chase’ first and foremost. Many successful people looking back on their lives never even felt the entrepreneurial zeal arriving. Many times these people are too poor even to imagine that they’ll ever get rich. But once hooked, their desire to achieve is often fanatical. More than half of the entrepreneurs got divorced along the road to success.
Adding to this perspective is the idea that business success also comes from taking more risks than the average person. This perspective was made popular when Harvard Business School’s Alexander Zelaznick said: "To understand the entrepreneur, you first have to understand the psychology of the juvenile delinquent." Entrepreneurs don’t have the normal fear or anxiety mechanisms, seem to act on impulse and act somewhat recklessly. Successful people have a compulsive, unconscious drive to push themselves forward towards success which is both a source of inspiration as well as a potential limitation leading to disaster. Their drives represent an instinctive, impulsive, unconscious, or biologically driven impulse of Sensation Seeking which is very hard to control. It is not specifically linked to either success or failure but is simply a drive to learn, explore and be curious about the world. Sensation Seeking provides the instinctive exploratory drive to push us forward even though these instincts can lead to either functional or dysfunctional learning.
To see business success only from compulsive deficit model of instinctive drive doesn’t provide credit for the conscious and complex goals which produce business success. On its own, the instinctive and exploratory drive of Sensation Seeking is not enough and this is perhaps why so many business failures occur. Conscious factors direct, harness and discipline the unconscious drive of Sensation Seeking to achieve business success and functional learning. The conscious factors in learning and personality usually are learnt from role models, parental socialization, peers, mentors, education, socio-economic opportunities and situational factors. These are related to understanding of business success and are associated with goal setting and self-efficacy that provide the direction, allocation of resources and delay of gratification needed to achieve complex plans. Next, the emotional intelligence that provides rational and independent thinking. Conscientiousness, that makes one responsible and ready for hard work and deep learning that provide knowledge, experience and insight.
Gates and Simplot are two of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. To psychologists, their stories raise fascinating questions. In what ways are the two men, born generations apart and raised in completely different surroundings, alike? More importantly, what makes them different from the great majority of people who never started a business, watched it succeed and become incredibly rich?
After decades of what at first amounted to little more than guesswork, scientists are collecting data they think can answer those questions. Enticing clues indicate that telltale bits of psychology may spur people to start businesses and even help determine who succeeds and who fails. The venture capitalists of the future may use psychological profiles to pick entrepreneurs who are more likely to create winning companies.
The first step psychologists took toward understanding entrepreneurs were based on anecdote, not experiment. Alexander Zelaznick, a professor emeritus of psychology at Harvard Business School, says years of interviewing entrepreneurs led him to the dramatic conclusion that they simply did not feel risk, or weigh consequences, in the same way as other people. Anecdotal evidence creates caricature of the typical entrepreneur: A young man with an appetite for risk and a persuasive personality, a gifted salesman with an independent streak. The evidence that entrepreneurs have a particular personality ‘type’ is mostly unconvincing, however, data collected over the last decade has allowed psychologists to confirm or disprove parts of this picture.
For instance, the notions that entrepreneurs are risk takers. Psychologists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has shown that entrepreneurs are more successful when they are persuasive and have strong social skills, in other words, that being a charismatic salesman is a big help. That would be no surprise to Steve Jobs who famed for being so convincing; he seems to temporarily distort reality.
Here, another problem rears its head. Most studies of entrepreneurs look only at people who have been successful. That is, they pick out people who have already founded businesses. Instead of first finding entrepreneurs and then asking what makes them successful, researchers are left looking at a group of winners, at least relatively speaking.
To make matters worse, researchers often have asked these entrepreneurs to describe themselves at their career’s beginning. This, it turns out, is almost impossible for anyone to do. We all craft stories about our lives that exaggerate some factors while leaving others out. Could Larry Ellison really give an accurate assessment of what was going through his mind when he founded Oracle, even if he wanted to?
Researchers are trying to get around this through a survey called the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics, which started in 1995; 64,622 American households were called at random, and, from this large group, the researchers found 800 entrepreneurs who had not been in business more than three months. They also assembled a representative sample of 400 people to use as a control group. From this data, researchers have already been able to draw some basic conclusions. For instance, entrepreneurs and normal people seem to worry equally about financial autonomy and or a feeling of being motivated in their jobs. Neither a need for financial nor personal independence seems to have caused any of these people to start their own business.
The entrepreneurs did not seem to be devil-may-care risk takers. Only a subtle difference in the way they appreciate risk emerged. The entrepreneurs are worse at coming up with reasons they might fail. Being able to generate more unpleasant possibilities might be making non-entrepreneurs more afraid, but we don’t know that. So far, there is one other big difference between those who go into business for themselves and those who don’t. Entrepreneurs don’t care what other people think about them. They really don’t care much. They’re just happy to go ahead and do what they’re doing.
Statistically speaking, then, Simplot and Gates would seem to have two things in common: They have trouble imagining failure, and they don’t care what you think.
- Why Entrepreneurs Should Just Say No (From Forbes) (bossofthelivingdead.com)
- The Entrepreneurial Top Five (personabubble.com)
- The Learning Zone (benvick.wordpress.com)
- Jo’s Lessons: Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Business Women (permanentmakeuptraining.wordpress.com)
- Global Entrepreneurs: Quick Pointers to Starting Out In Singapore (businessleadershipmanagement.wordpress.com)
- Worthless, Impossible and Stupid? Why Contrarian Business Ideas Make It Big (entrepreneur.com)
- Comic: Take a seat – Relaxation for the Entrepreneur (projecteve.com)
Image Credits: Raul Nunes on Fivehundredpx