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What is: an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial and intrapreneurship?

Back in June, while attending the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Awards (an initiative that champions female leadership and entrepreneurship), I was chatting to a founder about their background. After she shared some of her many achievements, I said “It sounds like you’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset.” It was a comment that took her by surprise. She reflected and said, “Yes, I guess I have.” But it wasn’t something she initially related to.

The conversation turned to the word ‘entrepreneurship’ and what that means to different people. She was formally an ‘entrepreneur’ after founding a business. As an MD but not a founder, I’m not classified as an entrepreneur in the traditional sense but have an entrepreneurial mindset. As business leaders, we both demonstrate entrepreneurship. 

The category of entrepreneurship has evolved a lot over the last few years - especially with the increase in the ‘hustle’ culture and side jobs. The official definitions no longer reflect how these words are used.

The definitions

  • Entrepreneur: a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.

  • Entrepreneurial: Characterised by the taking of financial risks in the hope of profit.

  • Entrepreneurship: the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.

Dissatisfied with the descriptions, I turned to LinkedIn for something a little more current:

Ash Phillips, Founder and Consultant at Rebellious Co, said: “Entrepreneurialism, in the modern era, is about challenging the status quo and doing things for the betterment of society/community/yourself/the world, proactively...

“...I just think more folks need to give themselves credit for being entrepreneurially minded!”

Nina Whittaker, CEO at Stratton Craig, said: ”I personally think it is more valuable to have that entrepreneurial approach - arguably, anyone could be an entrepreneur...But not everyone is entrepreneurial in action!”

(I love the 'entrepreneurial in action' point - it has to have action behind it)

Simon Barbato, CEO at Mr B & Friends, said: “In my opinion having an entrepreneurial approach is a mindset that anyone can develop within an organisation - by inclination or learned skills/culture.”

Kerry Gould, Founder of The Expert Voice, said: “People with entrepreneurial skills are really valuable IMO. And if you have that mindset, you don't necessarily need to quit your job to scratch that itch. You just need a company culture that embraces it.”

Kaizen: the entrepreneurial approach at Antidote

What I love about the responses from LinkedIn is that they talk about the skills behind entrepreneurship and why they are so important in business in general - whether you’ve founded a company or not. At Antidote, having an entrepreneurial mindset is embedded in everything we do. 

Kaizen at Antidote is the term that drives our entrepreneurial approach. It reflects our values and operational style. We aim to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement by supporting recommendations for change from any employee, at any time. It’s about embedding a belief that you can always make or do things better.

Kaizen at Antidote is reflected in three ways: 

  1. Curiosity

  2. Connections

  3. Change

By creating fail-safe environments and fostering the belief that innovation and improvements can come from any employee, we actively support our staff in entrepreneurial thinking. 

It’s what some call intrapreneurship: the willingness or ability of people within a large company to take direct responsibility for turning ideas into profitable new products, services, businesses, etc.

Post-it Notes, Gmail and the ‘like’ button on Facebook all came from intrapreneurs. People within an organisation who saw an opportunity and the company supported them in executing it.

Entrepreneurial skills

So what are the specific skills that bundle up to make you entrepreneurial? These are my top picks:

  1. Resilience and adaptability - view challenges as learning opportunities, know when to adapt and adapt quickly.

  2. Continuous learning - no matter how experienced you are, there are always opportunities to learn.

  3. Collaboration - from people helping you to execute an idea, to inspire you or keep you sane. The people you keep around you can have a positive (or negative) impact on you and how you show up.

  4. Creative thinking - be inspired by external elements and don’t let ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ stifle innovation.

  5. Problem-solving attitude - the need for being solution-oriented has been well documented, but, for me, it’s about having a general can-do attitude. It’s about how you show up as an individual but also for your team. How can you come up with solutions yourself as well as encourage others to think about challenges as opportunities for change? 

So whether you’re a founder, a business leader, a manager or fresh into the workplace, entrepreneurial skills are valuable in expanding your knowledge, progressing your own career and growing the business - no matter what ultimate responsibility you have. And they are skills that anyone can develop. 

Who knows, perhaps Antidote’s success as an employer might be based on how many businesses our staff go on to create! 


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