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Experts answer: is entrepreneurship for everyone?

Are entrepreneurs born to be entrepreneurs or do they grow into being one? This eternal question comes up regularly, but no simple answer is available. We investigated whether anyone can become an entrepreneur and which qualities make an entrepreneur successful.

Anyone can become an entrepreneur – or at least anyone can adopt an entrepreneurial attitude. Ulla Hytti, entrepreneurship professor at the University of Turku, believes that entrepreneurship is learned. However, she points out that for others it may require more than from others.

“Entrepreneurship requires hard work, learning and development. The same as in sports and other skilled disciplines, someone may have intrinsic features or characteristics, as well as habits learned at home, making some people more natural entrepreneurs than others,” she describes.

Childhood homes play a crucial part in becoming an entrepreneur. People who grow up with entrepreneurs in the family, often become entrepreneurs themselves. However, Hytti points out that this is true not only for entrepreneurs but also for teachers, just to name an example. Teachers’ children become teachers more often than the average person.

Sanna Lehtonen, Executive Director of the YES network of experts in entrepreneurship education agrees, the qualities required for entrepreneurship come more naturally to some.

“However, you can learn an entrepreneurial attitude through environmental stimulation,” she says.

Preparation, courage and focusing on strengths

In Hytti’s opinion, sports and entrepreneurship have another thing in common, training matters.

“The more persistently, diligently and long-term you manage to do it, the tougher you become and bad experiences or minor failures do not discourage you.”
Hytti says that success is based on the entrepreneur’s ability to learn from mistakes and consider ways to improve one’s as well as the businesses’ activities. Talented entrepreneurs take into account possible miscalculations and prepare for them, but are not overly apprehensive.

In Lehtonen’s opinion, too, courage, perseverance and the ability to convert ideas and impulses into concrete actions are the key qualities of an entrepreneur. She emphasises that entrepreneurs must know how to further develop themselves and their activities and understand financial figures.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is at least equally important. “Entrepreneurs should focus on what they are good at personally and outsource other tasks. Therefore, it is important to find networks for support and assistance.”

Not just another Nokia or Rovio

As an entrepreneur, you are your own boss. That requires self-direction and the ability to develop one’s actions, even if it cannot be diverted into immediate financial gain.

That is why Hytti advises entrepreneurs to utilise for instance business incubators and counseling services, to boost your personal thinking. At the same time, you can work on identity, is this what I really want?

“That way you will have addressed these issues with yourself and not regret it at old age. Thinking about the idea you once had, but never elaborated on,” says Hytti.

In Lehtonen’s opinion, perception and recognition of entrepreneurship have evolved considerably over the years. Before, entrepreneurship was considered as a means to gain as much profit and advantage as possible. Today, the primary motivation for people is self-actualisation and helping solve social challenges.

“In Finland, it is easy to get carried away in the startup hype, thinking that you have to come up with a new Nokia or Rovio. But entrepreneurship comes in many forms, and the forms of work are transforming and becoming more entrepreneurial.”

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