Entrepreneurs and their businesses come in different shapes and sizes, but are there behaviours entrepreneurs share that make them more similar than first meets the eye? Whether you’re a business owner or employee, at some point, you’ve probably wondered what makes successful entrepreneurs tick. Is there a magic formula that anyone could copy and paste to become the next Melanie Perkins, Nick Molnar or Kayla Itsines?
This notion of a secret sauce for entrepreneurship has consumed academics, business managers and even entrepreneurs themselves for decades. So, we’ve decided to unpack what the experts say; when it comes to entrepreneurial behaviours that shift the needle towards achievement in business. We’ll consider why mastering these go-getting ways could be more important than ever and distil some expert hacks for flexing your entrepreneurial muscles.
Deciphering the entrepreneur’s playbook
One of the most recent and comprehensive studies into entrepreneurial behaviours has been developed by researchers at Harvard Business School (HBS). The research surveyed 1300 HBS alumni and measured them against 11 dimensions. The cohort included founders and non-founders. Six commonalities emerged which set these founding business owners apart from their employed peers.
1. Financial management is a strong suit
Financial management is close to our hearts at Radium, so we’ve made it top of our list. We know the business decision about when and how to access finance can be the difference between a company’s success and failure. Founders in the HBS survey rated their abilities to manage cash flow, capital raising and board governance more highly than non-founders. Entrepreneurs need to be proficient at identifying suitable sources of capital for their fledgling businesses to succeed. But they must be equally adept at wringing every last cent of value out of each dollar they have, whether it’s from bootstrapping, a capital raise or an R&D loan. The Radium Advance is an R&D loan that gives businesses with research early access to their R&D tax refunds. With Radium Advances, eligible companies can use these R&D loans strategically by reinvesting them in more R&D to increase their tax refunds. And canny entrepreneurs are deploying advances to boost their R&D spend by up to 50% every year.
2. They are adept at identifying opportunities
Identifying a business opportunity is a precursor to any entrepreneurial journey. For that reason, it’s one of the key behaviours identified by the HBS research and noted by other experts on entrepreneurship.
3. They have vision and influence
Vision and influence also set founders and non-founders apart according to the HBS study. Its findings revealed that founders had significantly more self-confidence about their business vision and ability to influence outcomes than their salaried counterparts. Notably, female founders rated themselves more highly than male founders on this dimension. Vision and influence behaviours also work hand in glove with founders’ enhanced ability to see opportunities, take calculated risks and positively influence stakeholders, such as their employees or investors.
4. They build networks and use them
The stereotype of the wheeler-dealer entrepreneur as a master networker appears to be confirmed by the HBS study too. Many founders attest to relying on solid business connections to help them establish and grow their early-stage start-ups.
5. They are comfortable with uncertainty
Launching any business is a giant leap into the unknown. So it makes sense for entrepreneurs to have the ability to navigate uncertainty in spades. All founders surveyed by HBS confirmed this truism. But male founders expressed significantly greater confidence in their capacity for uncertainty than their female peers.
6. They are prepared to swim against the tide
Entrepreneurs actively embrace doing things differently and don’t fear being the odd one out. The HBS survey revealed that founders were significantly less inclined to use existing business structures than their salaried counterparts. This confirms that effective entrepreneurs must show flexibility when building new ventures; and adapt their organisational structures in response to uncertainty and fast-changing market conditions.
Entrepreneurial behaviour matters
Do you recognise these entrepreneurial behaviours in yourself, and are you already an adept practitioner? Maybe you want to model the go-getting ways of successful entrepreneurs to launch a new start-up, scale-up an existing venture or become a more effective business manager?
Wherever you are on the entrepreneurial continuum, this decade has already shown the importance of honing the entrepreneurial traits we have and cultivating ones that aren’t in our wheelhouse yet. Market transformations are happening at breakneck speed. A future world order shaped by climate and geopolitical change, artificial intelligence and the promise of quantum computing will necessitate new levels of adaptability and agility for everyone. So what’s the best way to shift towards a more entrepreneurial mindset?
Flex your entrepreneurial muscles
Practice makes perfect. So start consciously challenging your current mindset. And when it comes to practical skills, such as networking and influencing, learn and upskill by doing more of these activities.
To change your outlook, recalibrate how you view uncertainty:
- Reflect on how crucial certainty is for you in a big-picture sense.
- Rate how certain or uncertain the elements of your business currently are.
- Consider how you could do things differently in your organisation.
You could try swimming against the tide in a small way and then build from there. While some entrepreneurs seem to spot golden opportunities effortlessly, remember that to see an opening, you need to be looking. So start actively scanning the environment for opportunities.
Think about practical ways you could improve your influencing skills. Do you need to practise public speaking or complete a presentation skills training course to brush up on your communication skills? Are you networking enough? If you haven’t joined business networking groups in your field of expertise or your local area, put that on your to-do list.
Get Radium Capital on your team
When it comes to finance and financial management, get Radium Capital on your team. We can help you access your R&D refund early so your business has the right capital at the right time. And we can help you build your network by connecting your company with our trusted R&D advisors and partners who can support you on your R&D journey.
Are you ready to improve financial management for your R&D program? Schedule a call with our R&D experts or explore our website to learn more about Radium Advances.
 Harvard Business School. 2016. Skills and Behaviors that Make Entrepreneurs Successful. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/skills-and-behaviors-that-make-entrepreneurs-successful