When it comes to success, entrepreneurship is a mind-set not a business model

We broaden what we traditionally associate with entrepreneurship – new venture creation aimed at maximising profit and growth – when we reframe is as a mind-set. This enables us to consider other exciting forms of entrepreneurship, such as gig entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, academic entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

The only differences between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship – taking risks within a company as an employee to solve a given problem – are the risk context and the potential consequences, both positive and negative. The thinking, the skills, the activities and the mind-set are the same.

Both indigenous and multinational companies in Ireland stand to benefit from entrepreneurial thinking. Intrapreneurs add value through innovative thinking in the same way entrepreneurs add sustainable value via new venture creation and job creation.

“With our thoughts, we make the world.”

Action is clearly crucial in the arena of entrepreneurism but mind-set also matters when it comes to creating successful entrepreneurial scenarios. An entrepreneur approaches the world with some naïveté. Being naive has its advantages. Often it involves a lack of awareness of norms and traditional ways of doing things. Entrepreneurs believe they can make a change in the world.

Sometimes this is a response to change, sometimes it is the reason for change. Entrepreneurs are change agents for themselves, their markets and in the case of the intrapreneur, their employers.

Our own worst enemy

We need to start viewing our cognitive energy as an entrepreneurial resource. Squandering it through needless worry, especially when it could be used for something much more productive is an inefficient use of resources.

One of the greatest thieves of cognitive energy is so-called Impostor Syndrome – the fear of being singled out in a team situation or being found out for the fraud that we fear we really are.

It is important to realise that some of your most talented employees might experience the Impostor Syndrome – and that it has nothing to do with their competence. It tends to show up in very high achieving people.

Permission to act

It’s important to be aware that you do not have to wait to until you get a degree, gain 10 years’ experience or reach some other self-prescribed milestone before you can be an entrepreneur – just do it. You can dream for years about what might happen. Only through action can you see actual results. Then, based on that data, you can determine what the next steps are.

As an intrapreneur, you have permission to act. So rather than waiting for the right time and right circumstances, be ready to act.

Be a risk creator as opposed to a risk taker

There is an imperative to see failure differently – ie as an opportunity to learn and gain valuable fast feedback as to what will work or not. If Ireland is to truly evolve as an innovative culture, this requires creating safer opportunities for risk.

This is particularly relevant for intrapreneurs and large multinationals. At a recent event marking an exciting collaboration between the DCU Business School, Enterprise Ireland and Google, I spoke about testing, making smart mistakes and experimenting as high yield activities for a company’s economic growth and product innovation and improvement.

Google, which was voted the second most innovative company in the world in a recent Boston Consulting Group survey, challenges its employees’ normative mental models. It enables them to approach new product development and problem solving with a fresh pair of eyes.

A company which embraces “risk activities” provides the catalyst for innovative behaviour amongst its employees through its cultivation of an entrepreneurial “can do” mind-set.

Are you FTW or WTF?

So mind-set matters when it comes to creating a vision of what is possible. A clear vision creates the “scene” for our reality. It dictates what we pay attention to, what we dismiss, how we interpret what we see and what we believe is possible.

Once you begin to adopt a practice of thinking differently about new possibilities, what you see as possible becomes probable; you become focused on solutions (the “win”).

Our mind-sets can also act as unconscious constraints, limiting what is possible. You can become focused on problems. Mind-sets matter when it comes to intrapreneurship. So, are you for the win – aiming to be your best entrepreneurial self – or are you what the frack?

Article originally published in The Irish Times

Thinking Entrepreneurship: Mindset Matters- DCU marks colloboration with Enterprise Ireland

Taking another step forward in their continued commitment to supporting innovation in Ireland’s economy and communities, Dublin City University and Enterprise Ireland recently marked their collaboration at an event hosted by Google. The event, entitled ‘The Entrepreneurial Mindset’, took place on Monday September 17 at The Foundry and featured two panel discussions, with a keynote presentation from DCU’s Professor Maura McAdam.

There were a total of ten industry experts on stage across the afternoon. Joining the panel discussions were Sandra Whitney, Director of Global Partnerships at Google; Sandra Healy, Director of DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion; Garvan Callan, strategist, innovator and transformation advisor; Paddy Flynn, Director of Geodata Operations at Google; Sarita Johnston, HPSU Start Manager at Enterprise Ireland; Liz Fulham, CEO at Salesoptimize; Paul Mullin, Managing Director of the White Hag Brewery; Anne Marie McSorley, CEO and founder of Veri; and Liz Cunningham, Director of Tax for EMEA at Google.

Liz Cunningham opened the event with a brief outline of the Women@ programme which has been curated by Google as a means to offer mentorship to women and support their career development. The latest partnership with DCU and Enterprise Ireland will further enhance the impact of this programme. In an article with Women Mean Business earlier this year, Liz spoke about the significance of these kinds of support systems.

Professor Maura McAdam, Director of Entrepreneurship at DCU and Director of Research at DCU Centre for Family Business, turned the audience’s focus inward as she described the ways in which our mindset can shape entrepreneurial outcomes. Questions from the audience brought the conversation back to gender in entrepreneurship. One of the key factors, Maura outlined, we need to consider when cultivating an environment of equal opportunity is role models. Having people to identify with who are visible in positions of leadership, and who are relatable to our own sense of self can potentially readdress the shortcomings in women’s self-efficacy.

Paddy Flynn moderated the first panel of the afternoon, taking the opportunity to explore the internal, less visible ways in which innovation and entrepreneurial thinking take place. Sandra Healy highlighted the need to create spaces that “enhance and foster that mindset”. An example being DCU’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre, known as Invent, as a space where there is a focus on co-creation and the inclusion of the external DCU community.

Is entrepreneurship for the means, or the ends? Garvan Callan turned our attention to motive in innovation and described the importance of understanding people’s ambitions. “It doesn’t work if you’re doing it for the brand”, pointing out the difference in seeing the entrepreneurial journey as a process instead of a plan.

Resources and risk were the key topics brought up by Sandra Whitney. In any entrepreneurial endeavourt, the availability of resources may depend on a trade-off, where you sacrifice some to gain others. She emphasised the importance of rewarding people for taking risks, as entrepreneurship “needs to be the core message”.

Sarita Johnston led the second and final panel discussion of the afternoon, drawing attention to what motives people to be entrepreneurial. The fact that entrepreneurship gave her the opportunity to design and “move at speed” was something that appealed to Liz Fulham. Her product and business is customer focussed and outward looking, which makes this characteristic important in all of their processes.

Paul Mullin began thinking about entrepreneurship at an early age, as he recalled his teenage years and his uncle advising him to innovate. Something which helped him in moments where his confidence emphasized, was “taking a step back” and looking at the positive impact of the product and the reaction from consumers. Never underestimate the importance of people and a supportive atmosphere. Anne Marie McSorleydescribed the positive Entrepreneurship of being involved with Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs where she met other women who were also scaling their ambition. Her advice for start-ups: be able to prove the product’s worth before you ask for funding.

The collaboration between DCU and Enterprise Ireland reflects the core strategies and values of both organisations. Enterprise Ireland has continuously reached outward into communities with initiatives and funding support schemes to help secure the success of local businesses, start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs who are taking that initial leap – some of whom were on stage at this event. In its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, DCU has laid out its central vision and mission.

“To transform lives and societies through education, research, innovation, and engagement” (DCU Strategic Plan, 2017-2022).

‘Stronger together’ appears to be the entrepreneurial motto. 

Article originally published at DCU NCFB News

The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Lessons from Women Innovators

Professor Maura McAdam keynote speaker at International Women’s Day event on Female Entrepreneurship

To mark International Women’s Day 2018 on March 8th, Dublin City University, Enterprise Ireland and Bank of Ireland hosted an event featuring women innovators who are successfully leading the way in business.

The event explored insights into the entrepreneurial mindset that drives the global ambition of contemporary women innovators with the aim of raising collective awareness and encouraging proactive sponsorship of our inclusion and diversity agenda.

Panellists and speakers included women who have made a career out of innovation and risk-taking by launching their own start-ups.

Maura McAdam, Professor of Management at DCU Business School and DCU Director of Entrepreneurship, delivered a keynote presentation. The themes in her keynote address included the following:

Entrepreneurship is a mindset, not a business model; we should not limit our definition of entrepreneurship to narrow interpretations such as new venture creation but should broaden our understanding of the concept to include exciting forms of entrepreneurship such as intrapreneurship.

Intrapreneurship is a concept that focuses on employees of a company that shares many of the traits of entrepreneurs. The only difference between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship is the context in which it takes place. The mindset, thinking and skills are all the same!

The benefits of entrepreneurial thinking for Irish indigenous companies and multinationals are manifold. Intrapreneurs add value to their workplace via their innovative thinking in the same way entrepreneurs add sustainable value via new venture creation and job creation.

Fostering and harnessing entrepreneurial thinking in the workplace is of prime importance for educators and employers alike.  For employers, attracting, optimising and retaining talent are key enablers in developing entrepreneurial mindsets in a company or organisation.

Diversity in the workplace takes many forms. Diverse and inclusive cultures equal greater innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking and as a consequence better bottom line results. Diversity and inclusion should be key guiding principles in the strategies of companies looking to embrace entrepreneurial thinking among staff.

Taken to the national and international level, entrepreneurial mindset impacts the scaling up of companies’ activities and activates growth. This, in turn, means that entrepreneurial mindset stimulates and fuels global ambition.

Article originally published at DCUBS Events