Are you an entrepreneurial thinker? A quiz.

By Amy C. Cosper

Innovation is something we should all encourage

You’re a CEO, a board member, a shareholder or an employee in a family business. Great. You have a couple choices. You can choose to be an active participant or a passive participant in the future of your company. It’s your choice. Ironically, accepting the status quo is far riskier than challenging established norms. However, challenging the norm requires the one thing humans fear: change. Change is uncomfortable. Change is hard. Change requires new ways of thinking (not a natural state for some). Change also requires breaking, bending and busting rules.

Here’s the thing: You do not have to be a startup to be entrepreneurial. I stand behind that with unfettered confidence. Plenty of family businesses are entrepreneurial. Jake Burton, the late founder of Burton Snowboards, chased a passion in the face of daunting adversity and in so doing created an entirely new industry.

An entrepreneurial fire-in-the-belly spark keeps companies ahead of the curve and, in fact, invents new curves. It’s also a tough thing to measure, but it is, in the history of commerce, what keeps companies and leaders relevant. It drives trends and trends drive change. Change creates new markets. New markets create opportunities. Think about it. If no one ever challenged norms, we’d still be communicating with carrier pigeons and not drinking wine.

How do multigenerational entities embrace entrepreneurship when tradition and status quo are central to long-term success? Your assignment, should you choose it, is to challenge the irritating, but all-too-familiar mindset of “That’s how we’ve always done it.” This particular thought bubble is a death knell for innovation. It’s also a buzzkill for creativity.  

Entrepreneurial thinking is not just a forward-facing philosophy. It includes everything from vision to process to operations and, most importantly, execution. Ideas are just ideas unless they are executed.

In many ways, entrepreneurial thinking is what advances industry and in so doing advances culture and economy. That’s what family businesses do best. As Peter Drucker says, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Food for thought: A short, unscientific quiz to test your organization’s entrepreneurial acumen:

1.     Do you foster a culture of creativity? How?

2.     Have you ever broken an existing rule lately? (nothing illegal, please)

3.     Is your company driven by process or innovation?

4.     Would you describe your culture as legacy?

5.     How often do you revise your goals?

6.     How many new markets have you created?

7.     Do you fear change?

8.     How involved is your board in the concept of innovation?

9.     How do you define entrepreneurship?

10.  How do you encourage innovation and invention?

 

I’m curious about your answers to these questions. Let me know what your approach to entrepreneurship is or if it’s not a thing in your family business. There are no wrong

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