“There is no one way: we have extraverted entrepreneurs, introverted entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with bunch of different personality traits. Entrepreneurship is about creating opportunities, and you can learn to do that”, says Becky Reuber, professor from Toronto University (Canada) who delivered a seminar for researchers at Kaunas University of Technology School of Economics and Business earlier this year.
Reuber, who specialises in development strategies of entrepreneurial organisations, thinks that in today’s constantly changing business environment a traditional leader is not enough. The leaders must be accompanied by entrepreneurs – innovative thinkers, who are looking for new possibilities and their applications in business.
Who is more successful in business: a leader or an entrepreneur?
I think it probably depends on the challenges of the organisation. These days when money is tight everywhere, I think having somebody with some entrepreneurial abilities is helpful to take advantage of opportunities. Entrepreneurship is really about finding opportunities, and also creating opportunities to do new innovative things so I think that is always necessary.
Leadership to me is more about getting people on board and helping people to contribute. Sometimes you need both, you need the entrepreneurial abilities to find new opportunities and you need leadership abilities to implement them. And lots of time entrepreneurs find opportunities, but maybe they are less successful in getting people to follow them.
Is entrepreneurship important in every kind of business?
It is important in most types of businesses; the world is changing rapidly in terms of global challenges, resource accessibility, changing technologies. Entire industries are being either merged or split apart. The market opportunities exist in change. And so I think that is true.
Who has to be the entrepreneur in a company – the CEO, a manager or a random employee?
I think you want people with entrepreneurial tendencies to be at all levels. If you work at a counter at a department store, you may have lots of ideas, about how to improve customer service, some of the policies, about how to make things more effective and efficient, so you may have some entrepreneurial ideas, but it almost impossible to get those ideas to the CEO. Because there are so many managers who would have to agree with them, before you could do that.
There is a company in Canada coming up with a software that lets those ideas to be brought forward more and it allows opinions to be crowdsourced. It has been used in some huge retail chains, to be able to get ideas and suggestions from people in front lines.
Are entrepreneurial skillsimportant while studying, or in life in general?
Yes, I think some people have done studies of entrepreneurs vs. professional people like lawyers or business managers. And they look at all these different characteristic and to tell you the truth they don’t find that many differences. Because capable people are capable people. Capable lawyers are not that much different from capable managers, doctors, entrepreneurs.
Some people are naturally “A type” of people, and I don’t mean that in terms of stress and competitiveness, but they are just very high quality individuals. They can cut through stuff, can get things done, people want to work for them, people want to be around them. Those people exist in all different kinds of work.
Do you think that universities should have at least one or two study programs, related to entrepreneurship?
I think so. In the old days you needed to go to a university, to get a degree and to get a job. Now in Canada the economy is changing and that is a little bit harder to do. If people can create jobs and create companies – that is good. I don’t believe there is nature vs. nurture debate. They say “this person is born to be an entrepreneur”, but we did lots of studies on that and that is not true. Which is really good news, it means anybody can do it.
There is no one way, we have extraverted entrepreneurs, introverted entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with bunch of different personality traits. So learning how to create opportunities, whether it’s a firm, new product launch, new program in a university: whatever you are creating, we can learn how to do that. And that is good.