Toward An Entrepreneurial Mindset—Seven Skills

Family businesses are described as having three complex, interrelated subsystems. The family comprises one subsystem; the ownership and the business itself comprise the other two. Over the past couple of decades particular attention has been given, and necessarily so, to understanding and addressing the needs of the family subsystem. But a shift of focus is now required. Marketplace and consumer expectations are changing overnight. Consequently the way we do business has changed. For family businesses to remain successful, greater attention must now be focused upon the business subsystem, and of particular value today is the cultivation of an entrepreneurial mindset.

A mindset consists of our attitudes about something. Today, the entrepreneurial mindset is considered more important than experience, knowledge and family history for the success of a business venture.

Seven critical skills contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset:

1. Plasticity: The ability and willingness to change actions and plans to overcome present and future challenges.

2. Communication and Collaboration: The ability to clearly express ideas to an intended audience, including persuading others to work towards a common goal.

3. Creativity and Innovation: The ability to think of ideas and create solutions to problems in the absence of clearly defined structures.

4.Innovation and Problem Solving: The capacity to apply higher-level, process-oriented thinking, consider an issue from a range of perspectives and use that reasoning to make decisions.

5. Future Orientation: An optimistic disposition with a concentration on obtaining the skills and knowledge required to transition into a career.

6. Opportunity Recognition: Seeing and experiencing problems as opportunities to create solutions.

7. Comfort with Risk: The capacity to act upon a decision despite uncertainty and challenges.

The mindset of a given business leader toward applying these skills reflects one of two fixed perspectives: a fear perspective defined by thinking, “when I fail I am no good,” or a growth perspective, defined by “when I fail I learn.”