We can all name a few successful entrepreneurs. They’re often charismatic, perhaps outspoken and generally associated with one or two household names. That makes them pretty unusual: I won’t say odd, but certainly something of a spectacle.
But that caricature is quite inappropriate for the 21st century in a world where many of us will in a few years time be doing jobs which haven’t yet been invented. Rather than thinking of entrepreneurs as the odd ones out, we need instead to understand which entrepreneurial skills we all need to develop, whether we work in a small business or a global giant.
That’s why we at Tata are so glad to be supporting NACUE (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs) and its Varsity Pitch competition. By working with and supporting young entrepreneurs developing their first businesses, we too can develop those essential 21st century skills.
I’ve certainly found my experiences with NACUE a great way to identify the skills we all need, in our present job, the next one and for the whole of our careers. To me, being entrepreneurial has three elements at its core:
Not so much the (unpredictable) ability to have “Eureka” moments, but being open to new ideas, open to new ways of doing things and open to what the customer really needs and wants;
Developing, at any age, a mature judgement which manages risk, accepts uncertainty and is not dragged back by an excess of caution;
The “nine parts perspiration” can’t be ignored. Achieving anything in this ultra-competitive age can’t be done without effort.
Put like that, it’s hard to deny that we all need all three, whether we choose to call ourselves entrepreneurs or not.
What our Varsity Pitch winners also demonstrate clearly is that business has the power to do huge amounts of good: making new products or providing services that people want – and doing so quicker, cheaper and more sustainably. And we can do even better when large established businesses with small firms and with the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Written by David Landsman, Executive Director of Tata Limited.