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In search of real entrepreneurs

Karen Kammeraat
January 29, 2024

In search of real entrepreneurs

As a trainer, business coach and informal investor: I am always trying to find out whether the person in front of me is a real entrepreneur. There are many lessons Iearnt during my work in this area in Africa over the last decade and I am planning to share these with you in a series of blogs. This is the first one.

Now, what is a real entrepreneur? In my opinion, this is someone who has a growth mindset and is convinced that her/his product or service can conquer the market. A real entrepreneur is so convinced of the business that s/he is ready to make sacrifices for it. If you believe that your business will ultimately be a successful one, you are ready to invest all your available time and money in it, because in the end you will get it all back in multiples. You have so called ‘skin in the game’.

I personally believe that the percentage of the population that is entrepreneurial is a universal one. I don’t believe in this widespread idea that ‘people in developing countries are always entrepreneurial’. This may seem so, because so many people in developing countries are running some kind of a business. However, most of them don’t have a growth mindset, they merely run a business  because there is a huge lack of employment. They would rather have a job (which is confirmed by one of my favorite books ‘Poor Economics’ by Nobel prize winner Esther Duflo). These people aren’t entrepreneurial, they are generating income. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but they are not the persons you would like to invest in as a business coach or investor.

 It’s not easy to recognize the real entrepreneur in countries where being an entrepreneur is an explicit choice (i.e. in the ‘developed world’). This is even more difficult in countries where the majority of the people seem to run a business.

But wherever you are in the world, finding out whether the person has a growth mindset and skin the game is always a good idea. Is the person investing her of his own money, and even ready to sell personal assets to put more money in the business? Is the person committed to spend all her/his of time on the business? Does the person have a growth mindset, always thinking on how to increase the business? If the answer to these questions is a clear yes, then the first hurdle in answering whether the person is a real entrepreneur is taken! Of course, an entrepreneur also needs a lot of skills and competencies, but that’s for another blog. 

Examples of topics I will write about are: grantepreneur or entrepreneur, solopreneur or entrepreneur, inventor or entrepreneur, what is a growth mindset and lessons learnt in Africa about finances, monthly payments, collaboration, etc. Feedback and ideas are more than welcome!