Entrepreneurs differ from others in many ways, prominent among them being — the cognitive ability to identify opportunities by connecting multiple perspectives which can be very diverse and not apparently related; using heuristics along with logic while exploring solutions to exploit the opportunities; strong bias for action and learning through outcomes; perseverance to pursue the opportunities even when faced with repeated disappointments when the outcome is different from expectation.
These traits are not something that one is born with, always. Of course, not unlike others, entrepreneurs have these at some level of proficiency. It is largely the efforts put into developing these that distinguishes the entrepreneurs from others. These traits allow them to work on innovative ideas and exploit them to start new businesses. These can be and need to be developed through practice.
Developing entrepreneurial traits early
The development of these abilities needs to be taken up at an early age when the students are young and in the formative stage. Research has shown that the development of cognitive thinking, attitude, and intelligence are greatly influenced by the learning experiences, especially in the early school years.
Learning at this age can have a lifelong impact and it is not easy to alter the cognitive ability or attitude developed during childhood at a later stage. The effort required to unlearn and relearn is huge as time passes because it becomes hard-wired.
In the early stages, students not only learn concepts but also develop a way to learn from and about new experiences.
The early stage learning environment encourages the students to be curious and to know about their surroundings, and raising questions about them would help them develop their observation capability. It is important to allow them to challenge convention and seek innovative solutions to the problems.
Facilitating early stage learning
The education system for early stages needs to provide the appropriate environment to the students to develop entrepreneurial traits. The students need to be allowed to think on their own, identify problems from their own perspectives, and then be encouraged to think creatively about the solutions to the problem.
The prescriptive approach which emphasises on one correct answer to the conventional problems can stifle independent thinking and creativity. The lower tolerance to the unconventional leads to discouraging students from experimenting.
Experimentation is integral to entrepreneurship. The mindset to try new things and to be experimentative needs to be supported from an early stage.
Accepting failures to learn
The acceptance of failures is an important aspect of entrepreneurship. The outcomes that are different from the intended ones may be termed ‘failures’ by most but not by entrepreneurs.
They analyse and learn the reasons for the outcome. The learning allows them to modify the idea and continue seeking an innovative solution to the problem.
Students need to get this experience early enough so that they develop the resilience and perseverance required as an entrepreneur.
Students can progressively develop entrepreneurial traits as they grow and build upon their knowledge and experience. These traits are helpful not only to start a new venture alone.
These are helpful in whatever profession one engages in. The ability to view a situation from a different perspective can lead to new opportunities and creative solutions that can lead to better results.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)