Although all good literature on entrepreneurship emphasizes the fact that entrepreneurship is not only about starting a business, most people assume otherwise. In places like my country, being an entrepreneur is more so associated with owning a big business, running luxurious offices, and owning expensive cars based on the traditional image for a contractor or a businessman. Most entrepreneurs in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan experience disappointment from family and friends when they introduce themselves as entrepreneurs but do not fit the above image of wealth and power.
This culture creates setbacks among youth who might consider entrepreneurship as a professional path and makes them less interested in entrepreneurship altogether. However, I believe the entrepreneurial mindset is a very important skillset for your professional development and career event if you don’t become an entrepreneur.
Having an entrepreneurial mindset shows that you enjoy the following skill sets, which are all very important for your professional career in addition to one very important aspect of your life. Let me tell you what are the skill sets and why I believe they are important for your professional as well as personal life:
1- Finding Solutions for Problems
An entrepreneur is someone who not only sees problems but also seeks solutions for the problems. An entrepreneur sees a problem as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. To an entrepreneur, problems present challenges that need to be solved and allow for one’s creativity to unleash. As an entrepreneur, you are continuously on the quest of finding solutions for the problems rather than fearing them and avoiding them.
Interestingly, this skillset is very important for your professional development regardless of your working environment, whether as an entrepreneur or an employee. In fact, one of the fastest ways to climb up the corporate ladder is to find solutions for problems instead of complaining about them and avoiding them. And if you have this skillset, then you are in for a big treat wherever you are.
2- Turning Ideas into Reality
In my culture, it seems very common to sit down and suggest tons of solutions for big problems that the country or the society is facing. Everyone seems to be an expert in finding solutions to problems that even the government has been struggling with for decades. Yet very few ever push their solution ideas beyond mere conversations. As an entrepreneur, you possess the skillset that allows you to turn ideas into reality.
An entrepreneur is not someone who only keeps brainstorming and suggesting ideas. An entrepreneur is someone who filters the best of ideas, develops them into prototypes, tests them, and keeps modifying them until they reach a real solution. Although you cannot show success every time you work on an idea, but you can show dedication to seeing an idea through implementation and finding out whether it is going to work or not. Again, this is a very important skillset for professionals regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee. In fact, we continuously hear most investors saying that they invest in the people more than the idea because it takes a certain skillset to turn an idea into reality.
3- Scaling Up the Solutions
One of the main differences between an engineer and an entrepreneur is scaling up solutions. An engineer is usually charged with designing a solution to a problem that exists in one place or in one context only. Most designs have dimensions and features that make them uniquely applied to the specific problem or project. As an entrepreneur, however, you must be able to scale up your solutions. Your solutions must multiply and go far beyond one customer or one client.
As an entrepreneur, you can create impact through your solutions. You can change lives, disrupt industries, create new ventures, and reach new territories. This is a very important skillset that most firms require, whether for profit or not for profit. And that is why we have social entrepreneurship, which is scaled up solutions that create a significant impact on people’s lives but without necessarily a financial profit element. This too is a very important skillset for professionals regardless of where you work.
Now, we keep the best for the last.
Enjoying the above skill sets affects one very important aspect of your life, not only as a professional but also as a person. I believe as an entrepreneur you are generally happier with yourself and your work. As an entrepreneur, you feel more challenged, more accomplished, and more rewarded. Your capabilities are more shown, your senses are more stimulated, and your hours are more productive. Hence, you feel happier. And again, this is true regardless of whether you run your own business or work as an employee.
I believe we need people with entrepreneurial mindset everywhere in this country. We face so many challenges that are unique to our country. We need people who can find solutions, who can turn them into realities, and who can multiply them and make them available for the whole country if not the entire world. We need people with an entrepreneurial mindset in government offices, we need them in universities, and we need them in public places. That is why I believe you need the entrepreneurial mindset whether you become an entrepreneur or not because Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan need it.