Mentor advice – Igniting the entrepreneurial spirit!
By Karen Tidsall, Founder and Director, InterCHANGEpd
According to economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950), entrepreneurs are not necessarily motivated by profit but regard it as a standard for measuring achievement or success. Schumpeter discovered that entrepreneurs:
- greatly value self-reliance
- strive for distinction through excellence
- are highly optimistic (otherwise nothing would be undertaken)
- always favour challenges of medium risk (neither too easy, nor ruinous)
Your mentoring efforts could well be the spark that ignites the will and passion in your mentees to become entrepreneurs of the future – creating and growing exciting new businesses.
The qualities Schumpeter cites certainly resonate with me as I reflect on my journey of setting up and growing InterCHANGE People Development:
- Being self-reliant was crucial, particularly in the early stages, and for me this meant being resourceful. I’ll always remember the wonderful whoosh of creative energy that came from collaborating with a diverse range of people who believed in InterCHANGE and were enthusiastic to help us bring it to life – clients, trainers, communications specialists, video producers and designers.
- Striving for distinction involved digging deep and clarifying InterCHANGE’s core purpose and deepest values which resulted in developing the concept of Sustainable Achievement. This promotes the idea that people and organisations need to establish healthier, more sustainable ways of working to enable them to achieve their goals and dreams over the long term. For more insight see my article about achieving a sustainable business model.
- Being highly optimistic was a corner stone of our endeavours and I would sum it up as being passionate and believing in the value of our work and the benefits that flow from it.
- Reflecting on challenges of medium risk brings to mind the steady path we have travelled drawing on the principals of sustainable achievement – a constant alertness which monitors the dynamic balance between risk and safety, growth and consolidation, giving and receiving, rest and effort and using resources in a balanced way.
Mentoring Young People is a wonderful opportunity to inspire them to develop these entrepreneurial qualities.
Top tips in igniting the entrepreneurial spark!
- Ask students what the word entrepreneur means to them and encourage a group exploration to open minds and generate excitement about possibilities.
- In small groups ask them to explore:
- Who they admire for their entrepreneurial flair and why?
- How would they behaving if they were demonstrating entrepreneurial qualities and skills in their everyday lives / during their participation in the Enterprise Challenge
- Building a tower exercise to promote team work and collaboration:
- Divide students into small groups and give each group lots of newspapers and strong tape telling them they have 15 minutes to build a tower. The winners are those that built the tallest tower that stays upright!
- Ask students to describe how they worked as a team, what helped and what hindered them.
- Ask students what skills, qualities and talents they have and where their passion lies. Perhaps a mind-map could help to come up with good ideas. Is there a business there, somewhere within their unique gifts? What is it?
Find an excerpt from an autobiography of an entrepreneur and read it to them (e.g. Karren Brady, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, or any of the ‘Dragons’). Get them to discuss the bit you have chosen and see what speaks to them, what they identify with.
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