30 January 2009

NWES is a sponsor of the EDP Future50 – an attempt to find the key people who will be shaping our region in the years to come. Yesterday we had the first meeting of the “wise men” (and woman!) who will be attempting to judge the applications. It was a fascinating meeting which had a considerable discussion on what we mean by “entrepreneur” and what (if any) criteria should be set for the Future50.

We agreed that in any list there has to be some criteria set to ensure that we compare like with like. In brief, the list should comprise of people not companies – i.e. individuals or teams – who demonstrate a number of characteristics which mean that they will make a difference. It is not all turnover or profit driven – a point which I was very vocal on as this is only one measure of success and not necessarily the best one. So those social entrepreneurs who will influence our future have a real chance to make the list.

This is shaping up to be a really interesting project and one which will set many people thinking. So what makes an entrepreneur? A library of books have been written in recent years on this subject and of course there is no single definition which encompasses all of the research and opinion. I would suggest that an entrepreneur is defined more by their characteristics. In my experience there is a degree of commonality which would encompass the following:

– A leader not necessarily a manager
– Driven by a desire to succeed
– Tough and with a fierce independant streak
– Opportunistic and often ingenious
– Optomistic sometimes bordering on over confidence
– Possessed of a vision and passion combined with determination
– A calculated risk taker capable of making quick decisions

Of course this is by no means a complete list but gives a flavour of the “spirit of enterprise” which flows through every budding entrepreneur. I will return to these characteristics in greater detail in future posts. What would you add to the list and do you know someone who should enter?

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