-Mauritz Bekker-

High impact entrepreneurs, according to the 2011 High-Impact Entrepreneurship Global Report, are the 4% entrepreneurs responsible for 40% of the total jobs generated by all entrepreneurs.

From thirteen years experience in developing high impact entrepreneurs we believe educators should focus on the three behavioural categories as discussed below:

Entrepreneurial flair

The first element needed in this category is creativity. The question many people ask is: “Are we born creative, or can we develop creativity?” According to studies done by Dr. Cobus Neethling, a well known “creativity guru”, people are all born highly creative. As a matter of fact, during a research project they found that 98% of toddlers tested were superior in creativity, but sadly at the age of 22, only 2% of people still tested as such. The explanation for this, is the fact that education systems only developed the so-called “left side of the brain”, i.e. the linguistic, mathematical and logical side. The right, or creative and intuitive side, is not a focus area at all.  Therefore the left brain dominates the right and people lose their natural creative and intuitive abilities. People like Edward de Bono, John Adair and Dr. Cobus Neethling although voices in the dark, have already addressed this problem and extensive use is made of their techniques and exercises in EBS entrepreneurial courses.

The second building block in entrepreneurial flair development and closely related to creativity is reliable intuitive abilities. Based on personal entrepreneurial decision making experience there is seldom sufficient information for entrepreneurs to make important decisions. To do this, impact entrepreneurs developed a very valuable ability, called “intuition” or “gut feel.” Many of today’s successful entrepreneurs attribute their success to their intuition, Bill Gates says, ”you cannot ignore your intuition.” Oprah states, “My business skills have come from being guided by my intuition”. And as Donald Trump admits in his book, “I’ve built a multi-billion empire by using my intuition”. (La Pira, 2010:2)

In practice, the intuitive decision making is often like creativity, not logical but rather emotional. In other words, this solution is viewed as not been based on reason, because it was not derived from a conscious process of linear thinking, but came about from unconscious information processing. Intuitive decision making and creativity are therefore probably closely related. In support of the similarities between intuition and creativity Janesick (2001:539) states that: “Intuition is connected to creativity, for intuition is the seed, so to speak, of the creative act”. The creative act is the activity which will be responsible for a new innovation on the market.

The third element needed in developing an entrepreneurial flair is passion. High impact entrepreneurs love their work. The challenge here is to find one’s real passion in life and to develop a business operation which synchronised with this love. Extensive research on the topic revealed various works and out of these, a series of exercises can be developed which will help anybody to successfully identify his/her passion in life. This passion becomes an internal driving force of energy that will take the entrepreneur to high levels of success.

The fourth element needed in creating an entrepreneurial flair is to develop a success attitude.

It consists of developing a psychological profile of traits, like; self-belief, confidence, perseverance, goal orientation and self-leadership. The good news is that human beings can do much in developing such a positive set of traits leading to a success attitude. A person’s psychological profile is mainly a function of what has been programmed into his/her subconscious mind. The subconscious mind does not ask questions, it simply reacts to programmed instructions. Phobias are classic examples of how the subconscious mind functions. By the same token is self-confidence or the lack thereof, a programmed instruction in the subconscious mind. The wonderful news, however, is that people can actually re-program the subconscious mind and replace a negative instruction with a positive one. Man can therefore create any psychological profile of his choice, by simply following certain procedures and doing certain exercises. These techniques are commonly known as “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” (NLP).

Business acumen

This speaks for itself. It is clear that no person can perform high impact entrepreneurial activities without sufficient business acumen. This includes; financial, production/operational, marketing, and human resources skills. Over the years, the amount of theory on these areas became enormous. The challenge is to motivate students to apply business theory in practice. As is known from experience, a large number of theoretically educated people do not apply business theory in practice. The reason being that as soon as someone applies some theory in practice and it doesn’t work, he/she is inclined to stop trying by automatically assuming that most theory do not work in practice. Based on own practical experience, to overcome this stumbling block, educators should only teach theory that produces results, and by showing students how theory is applied in practice making use of real entrepreneurial case studies.

Strategic thinking

The successful entrepreneur needs to have the ability to think strategically. In order to do this a crystal clear understanding of the mechanics of a market-driven economy, the value of new technology, the impact of new legislation and new social trends, is needed. The high impact entrepreneur also needs to know the driving forces present in the industry and the strengths and weaknesses, of competitors and of self and of own operation. The frame of reference created by the above knowledge, is the foundation for the ability to think strategically.

A limited understanding of above mentioned factors will blind the entrepreneur to threats which affect the business, and block out or curb the vast number of business opportunities provided by the economy.

It is normally easy for a strategic thinker to create a future vision to be shared by those close to him/her. The visionary by the energy projected, is also more inclined to be a natural leader which is also a trait needed to be a high impact entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurial Business School (EBS), the school for applied entrepreneurship, therefore strives to develop high impact entrepreneurs, using the behavioural categories of, E, B and S, where:

E = Entrepreneurial flair, B = Business acumen and S =Strategic thinking

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