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The Entrepreneurial Spirit - A Brief Introduction

By Mohammad Anas Wahaj; MBA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000, USA; BS in Mechanical Engineering, Aligarh Muslim University, 1993, India
Dated: 31 December 2023


Entrepreneurship is an important component of thriving economy and entrepreneurial spirit is needed for growth and success of individuals, companies, organizations and nations. It assists to overcome challenges and helps to stay competitive in a tough environment. Entrepreneurial spirit brings in ability to seek innovation, bring positive change, develop new ideas, enhance creativity, enable intelligent and efficient problem solving, overcome status quo, and achieve success to not only individuals but also brings transformation to the organizations they work for and communities they live in.

Entrepreneurial spirit gives individuals 'never give up', 'never back down', and 'can do' approach to work on tasks and get things done by taking initiative and unwavering commitment even when they face challenges and difficulties along the way of reaching their goals. Entrepreneurial spirit helps people bring about 'out of the box' solutions and continuously innovate considering that 'change is the only constant'.

Entrepreneurial spirit is essential for all - entrepreneurs, professionals, workers, students and anyone who is willing to work hard and achieve their goals. Entrepreneurial spirit enables individuals to seek out new ideas and solutions, get things done proactively, makes them fearless in their approach, helps them continuously strive for growth and make things better.

Academics, researchers and students need to have entrepreneurial spirit that provides them to cross from academia to the marketplace trying to have broader impact of their ideas and research on society by commercializing them. Leaders must have entrepreneurial spirit so that they can take others with them and inspire them along the way to work hard and move forward towards collective success. Managers in companies and corporations require entrepreneurial spirit to manage innovation, continuously evolve business processes, empower those with creativity and help their team achieve their goals for competitive advantage, shareholder value and customer satisfaction.

Entrepreneural spirit provides the drive to proactively search and create new solutions. Empowers those with ideas to act on them and converge the interests with business sense to create the products and services and improve the world. Entrepreneurial spirit, in combination with experienced advice, can provide better results. It is a combination of drive, resilience, curiosity, business acumen, and am appetite for risk. Mentorship and networking with experienced entrepreneurs and creators provides sense of realism and accept failures to better action next time.

Three are three core benefits of entrepreneurial spirit - monetization of passions, self-confidence by taking calculated risks and enhance decision-making ability, stimulating exploration of interests, continuously look out for new ideas, opportunities and solutions.

According to the Nexford University Insights website (nexford.edu/insights/) - 'Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset or attitude characterized by innovation, risk-taking, creativity, determination, and a passion for starting and growing businesses. It is the driving force behind entrepreneurs – individuals who identify business opportunities, gather necessary resources, and create and nurture new enterprises. An entrepreneurial spirit typically involves a willingness to face challenges, learn from failures, and adapt to changing market conditions, with a focus on continuous improvement, growth, and achieving goals.'

George F. Gilder (1984), co-founder of Discovery Institute and author of 'Wealth and Property' and 'The Spirit of Enterprise', considers entrepreneurial spirit as ‘the source of all we are and can become, the saving grace of democratic politics and free men, the hope of the poor and the obligation of the fortunate, the redemption of an oppressed and desperate world’.

J. Abdnor (1988), former senator from South Dakota, wrote in the article 'The Spirit of Entrepreneurship' published in Journal of Small Business Management, ‘It is the spirit of adventure, the spirit of enterprise; the spirit that creates jobs and innovation in countries across the world; the spirit that breaks down social barriers and creates the opportunity for upward mobility for thousands of men and women’.

Entrepreneurial spirit can be defined both in terms of micro and macro aspects. William Keogh in an article that reviews David Rae's 1999 book ‘The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Learning to Unlock Value’ explains that the book features stories of entrepreneurs and their achievements and can inspire those who seek entrepreneurial pursuits. The book takes the micro view and focuses on the entreprneurial spirit of individuals. According to Mr. Keogh, 'Three inter-related themes are introduced in the book: first, an exploration of the idea of unlocking value through the concept of entrepreneurship; second, an examination of entrepreneurial development as continual learning; and, lastly, a focus on the practice of entrepreneurship as a form of living theory which is enacted and owned by entrepreneurial people, thus building on the narratives gathered from the entrepreneurs.'

Charlie Karlsson and Jan Larsson (1993) in their paper 'A macro view of the Gnosjo entrepreneurial spirit' took into account the macro view and explained the entrepreneurial spirit of a Gnosjo region in Sweden and investigated the continued sustainability of this phenomenon. They considered that knowledge-intensity and investements in education can enhance the regional entrepreneurial spirit.

Those with entrepreneurial spirit are curious, ask questions and have conviction to proceed towards their goals. They look to achieve the extraordinary. Entrepreneurial spirit provides ability to find opportunities scattered all around, being positive and ignore obstacles and negativity. What one chooses to do is the key as doing makes all the difference and entrepreneurship is all about planning, partnering and persisting until what one seeks out is achieved. Individual entrepreneur often acts as a pioneer in initially sparking the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurial spirit links entrepreneurs, businesses, innovation, network, regional development.

While most prevailing theories of entrepreneurship revolve around ability of individuals to recognize opportunities and work on them to create ventures but David B. Audretsch and Max Keilbach (2006) in their research 'The Theory of Knowledge Spillover Entrepreneurship' identify an important source of entrepreneurial opportunities - knowledge and ideas created in an incumbent organizations. They explain that by commercializing knowledge that otherwise would remain uncommercialized through the start-up of a new venture, entrepreneurship serves as a conduit of knowledge spillovers. According to the theory of knowledge spillover entrepreneurship, a context with more knowledge will generate more entrepreneurial opportunities.

Entrepreneurial spirit is an attitude and behavior that proactively seeks and works for change, embraces critical questioning, innovation and continuous improvement. Employees of organizations need to have it to grow their careers and also help grow the organization. Michael Kerr, author, speaker and president of Humor at Work, says, 'Entrepreneurial spirit is about seeing the big picture and thinking like an owner. It’s being agile, never resting on your laurels, shaking off the cloak of complacency and seeking out new opportunities. It’s about taking ownership and pride in your organization.'

Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs, says, 'To me, an entrepreneurial spirit is a way of approaching situations where you feel empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into your own hands. Companies that nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within their organization encourage their employees to not only see problems, solutions and opportunities, but to come up with ideas to do something about them. Entrepreneurial spirit helps companies grow and evolve rather than become stagnant and stale.'

There is a need to continuously reignite, replenish, reinvigorate and re-empower entrepreneurial spirit as there are always possibilities of diverting towards status quo, lack of motivation and getting overwhelmed by challenges. Well thought out, planned and strategic steps have to be taken to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive looking towards the future.



Select Entrepreneurial Spirit Quotes


'Mentorship is key to unlocking each of our entrepreneurial spirits.' - Richard Branson

'Supporting the entrepreneurial spirit is our best chance for economic progress.' - Scott Peters

“Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.' - Peter F. Drucker

'Never give up. Learning from failure is an essential part of the entrepreneur’s experience.' – Rachel Elnaugh

'The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.' - Peter F. Drucker

'Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.' – Belva Davis

'Risk taking and the drive to pursue innovative ideas are the fuel that stokes the entrepreneurial spirit.' - Daniel Goleman

'If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.' – Marissa Mayer

'The combination of brilliant ideas and entrepreneurial spirit should lead us to a safer and more secure future.' - Vinod Khosla

'We've got unmatched talent, innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, so when we work together, we can all benefit.' - Hillary Clinton

'Finding your entrepreneurial spirit and making it strong is more important than the idea or business you are developing.' - Robert Kiyosaki

'If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.' - Dolly Parton

'From the beginning, we have fostered a culture that embraces our entrepreneurial spirit and values innovation that puts our customers first.' Ken Xie

'I am convinced the entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian people, if allowed to express itself freely in the marketplace, India will be all right.' - Manmohan Singh

'If you are committed to creating value and if you aren’t afraid of hard times, obstacles become utterly unimportant. A nuisance perhaps, but with no real power.' – Candice Carpenter



List Of References

1. 15 Peter F. Drucker Quotes to Ignite Your Entrepreneurial Spirit | Tejas Tahmankar, USA Leaders, Accessed on 07 dec 2023
2. Entrepreneurial Spirit Quotes | Brainy Quote, Accessed on 07 dec 2023
3. Entrepreneurial Spirit Quotes | AZ Quotes, Accessed on 07 dec 2023
4. 10 Tips On How To Develop Entrepreneurial Spirit 2023 | Nexford University, 12 nov 2023
5. 12 Ways To Build Your Entrepreneurial Spirit | Bailey Maybray, HubSpot Blog, 07 apr 2023
6. Entrepreneurial Spirit: How to Foster Your Entrepreneurialism | MasterClass, 05 apr 2022
7. 12 Common Characteristics of the Entrepreneurial Spirit | Courtney Johnston, Motley Fool, 05 aug 2022
8. Entrepreneurial Spirit Quotes | Calm Coach Jamie, Womanifesting, 13 oct 2017
9. How to Cultivate an ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ | Knowledge@Wharton, 19 may 2016
10. 5 Quotes to Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Spirit | Williams Think Tank, Medium, 19 nov 2015
11. How To Keep Your Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive As The Company You Work For Grows | Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes, 22 oct 2013
12. Fueling the entrepreneurial spirit | Alvin Powell, The Harvard Gazette, 28 aug 2013
13. What Exactly Is Entrepreneurial Spirit? A Conceptual Framework And Empirical Evidence | Vijaya Thyil, Geoffrey Durden, Swinburne University, dec 2006

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