Entrepreneurial Spirit. Nature Or Nurture?
Do you think some people are naturally born entrepreneurs?
I do believe you born with it, it is a part of your nature. Even if you've never acted upon it it's still 'there'. There is a automatic urge to create opportunity, no matter how small. Whether or not you act on it, the urge is still there.
I have always looked for opportunities without even realising it. The first time I ever had an idea to sell anything was when I was eight or nine. I decided to draw colourfully illustrated signs and sell them to the neighbours for 5p. I roped in two friends and we set up out the front out of my friend Joanna's house. Surprisingly we sold quite a few to our humouring neighbours, particularly one sign that said ‘Beware Of The Drunk Man’ by Joanna. I think that was the first time I ever acted on an idea even at that age.
Often, I would locally collect conkers and acorns, thread them on to old boot laces my Nan had hoarded and sell them out the front as necklaces. Those that weren’t big enough to go over your head were ‘tiaras’ (🤦🏻♀️). I actually remember selling one to a guy that got it over his head and wore it home. Another time I watched Disney's Cinderella and was inspired by the part where she made clothes for her little animal friends so I thought "Dolls Clothes!". My Nan used to be a seamstress and had loads of unused fabric which I cut into patterns that would barely fit a barbie, messily stitched them together and attempted to sell them. Yeah that failed miserably but expectedly. I used to spend a lot of time st my paternal Nan's house as kid, she used to just let me get on with whatever I was doing.
One time my Nan and I were visiting her friend Dolly who had a 90ft long garden with about 10 cooking apple trees. I thought nothing of persuading Dolly’s granddaughter to set up out the front and sell barely-even-ripe apples. I got so carried away my Nan had to pull me aside and remind me this wasn’t my house.
Another time, I was at a christening party in a communal hall and me being my nosey self, I found where they kept the art supplies for the kids activities. I had about 5 kids making quack-quacks, hats and whatever else we could make out of coloured A4 paper and glitter and selling them to slightly-inebriated party guests.
I would say the last time I did something like this was at 13 or 14. My school friend was amazing at calligraphy so we started selling personalised bookmarks at school, we got so much interest that she felt quite overwhelmed and didn’t want to do it anymore. At the time I couldn’t understand why. She liked doing calligraphy and we were gonna make money so what was the problem?
Any money made from these little ventures, I couldn't tell you what happened to it. It wasn't the money that excited me, it was getting the idea, putting it into practice and seeing it work. My theory is that entrepreneurial spirit is a personality trait. Similar to being funny, being empathetic, etc. If you can't help but be a certain way then it is part of your nature. I never got to indulge in this as an adult until my early thirties because after I left school and didn't go to university the pressure was on me to get a job. No one really took any notice of this side of me or took it seriously. Anything that was outside the 9-5 job was deemed risky and unnecessary. Any ideas as I had as I got older were discouraged. I think the logic was 'If it wasn't being done already it wasn't worth doing or wasn't allowed'. I kind of put it on a back burner for a few years however I did end up in sales for a high street bank which sufficed for a while.
I remember hearing Gary Vaynerchuk talk about his childhood, in particular a story where he had set up lemonade stalls on every corner where he lived and would pay local kids to work them. Before he would set up each stand he would stand on the corner to find the best position for the lemonade stand by looking for the best position to see the eyes of the people driving past. At the end of the day he would 'roll through the neighbourhood on his big wheels to collect the money'. I wish I had had his confidence.
By comparison, my partner Tony is the total opposite. He has worked his whole life and is happy with that. He prefers the security of a regular wage. I'm forever coming up with ideas and I often get over-excited telling him about them and his eyes glaze over. That's not to say he's not supportive, he absolutely is but it's just not in his nature to be passionate about it.
Its a great time to be an entrepreneur. The rise of internet and social media have made it simpler to market your idea and directly reach your customers. I think with hard work and commitment what took 10 years to do in the 80s/90s takes less than half of that now. Yes, there's so many people out there doing it but results don't happen overnight. We also live in an age of Instant Gratification and those that expect this when starting their business eventually quit the game or move on to something else.
What do you think, is entrepreneurial spirit learned or ingrained?