12 Ways To Build Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

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Bailey Maybray
Bailey Maybray

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What comes to mind when you think of an entrepreneur? A go-getter? A leader? Someone who takes risks, overcomes failure, and aspires to change the world? All these attributes and more encompass entrepreneurial spirit, a mindset among proactive doers.

Entrepreneurial Spirit: A woman stands at the bottom of a ladder facing a crowd.

Many business owners espouse entrepreneurial spirit. But what does it take to show it? Looking at different aspects of entrepreneurial spirit can help you figure out if you have it. You can then identify ways to promote it in the workplace — increasing creativity, collaboration, and more.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Meaning

Entrepreneurial spirit is a way of thinking that pursues change instead of waiting for it. Anyone, including entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and working professionals, can have entrepreneurial spirit.

Those with entrepreneurial spirit embrace fear, aspire to grow, and aim to try new things.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Self-Assessment

Even if you don’t run your own business or plan to, you can still have characteristics of an entrepreneur. Whether you work at a large corporation or a small business, if you demonstrate any of the following traits, you likely have an entrepreneurial mindset.

1. You’re Risk Positive

Founders start businesses planning to succeed, but expecting failure — as 90% of startups fail. An entrepreneurial mindset includes risk positivity, or a willingness to try new things knowing you might fall on your face.

2. You Embrace Failure

Failure can feel like a punch to the gut. But having an entrepreneurial spirit involves embracing your lows as much as your highs. Professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit look at failure as an opportunity to learn. They pick themselves up, use failure to grow, and move on.

3. You’re a Lifelong Learner

Habits such as consuming books, podcasts, educational courses, and more point to lifelong learning. This means taking time to learn something new every day — and always maintaining a sense of curiosity.

4. You Like Leading

10% of people identify as natural-born leaders. People can take on leadership roles by title or actions. For example, they might take control of a project to ensure it meets deadlines. Or they might be given a management role because of their leadership skills.

5. You Go Against the Grain

The status quo persists because it works. But those with an entrepreneurial spirit aspire to go against the grain and try new things. This includes, for example, transforming ways workers communicate or identifying opportunities to improve productivity.

6. You Enjoy Collaborating

Entrepreneurs — even solopreneurs — collaborate frequently. They work with suppliers, investors, and other key stakeholders. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit enjoy collaboration, favoring working with others over solitude.

7. You Solve Problems

People can identify problems, but it takes another level of thinking to find solutions. Entrepreneurial workers present problems alongside solutions. Rather than hoping others figure out the issue for them, they find ways to overcome the challenge.

8. You’re Decisive

Instead of spending a long time mulling over every detail, entrepreneurial leaders prize decisiveness. This involves analyzing a problem or opportunity, figuring out options, and making a decision quickly.

9. You Dream Big

The majority of entrepreneurs start businesses not because of money, but because of their passions and vision. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit dream big, in their professional and personal lives. For example, they might want to become an executive at a corporation or move into a penthouse in a big city.

10. You’re Optimistic

Entrepreneurs deal with setbacks all the time. So, part of having an entrepreneurial spirit means staying positive — and recovering from failures quickly because of your optimism.

11. You’re a Doer

Entrepreneurial workers identify new opportunities in business and life, and they turn those ideas into action. Professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit find fulfillment in doing something rather than ruminating on it.

12. You Delay Gratification

Entrepreneurs often have to invest a significant amount of time and money before they see any returns. The ability to delay instant gratification for longer gains encompasses having an entrepreneurial spirit.

Entrepreneurial Spirit in the Workplace

In the office, workers with entrepreneurial spirit tend to take a proactive approach to their job. They emerge as leaders in their departments. They take on side projects to develop their skills. They view their role as their own business.

Entrepreneurial spirit in the workplace could also look like the following:

  • Exploring alternatives to long-used systems, such as ways of handling project management or communications
  • Asking their manager to try new, potentially risky projects
  • Taking on leadership roles within and outside their team, such as executive roles within employee resource groups (ERGs)
  • Bringing a constant set of ideas to team meetings and brainstorm sessions
  • Taking advantage of free learning resources within the company, such as trainings and webinars
  • Bringing solutions to the table instead of problems

Entrepreneurial Spirit Examples

When construction entrepreneur Rachelle Sassine first entered the space, she had to skip a personal salary to build the business. So, she moved back home and lived a frugal life.

Any money raised by the business she invested back into buying materials and training staff. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Sassine knew she had to compete on cost and earn the trust of clients fast.

She worked five months before paying herself, but her strategy worked. She built return customers, and her business started growing its revenue. Sassine’s willingness to take a chance and potentially fail embodies what it means to have an entrepreneurial spirit.

You can also show entrepreneurial spirit without starting your own business. Consider a budding marketer who wants to meet other professionals. To do so, they seek out networking opportunities. They arrange coffee chats. They attend conferences.

They commit to making at least 10 new connections every week. This hypothetical marketer demonstrates the kind of collaborative mindset key to having an entrepreneurial spirit.

A business owner who arranges a weekly meeting with their team to discuss learning opportunities could be another example. By starting discussions around interesting books, videos, and content, they encourage their workers to expand their horizons and gain an entrepreneurial spirit. 

How To Promote Entrepreneurial Spirit

To build entrepreneurial spirit among your employees, try the following strategies from Sassine:

Run workshops: Teach your organization different skills, such as decision-making frameworks and creative thinking.

Empower your team to make mistakes: Encourage risk taking. Embrace mistakes and setbacks. Let employees know they can take risks through side projects or by trying new things with no consequences. Incentivize them to make mistakes by demonstrating it yourself.

Promote self-development: Share books, TV shows, documentaries, or podcasts you learned something from. Start a chat room where employees can share something they learned every week.

Encourage side projects: Enable your organization to work on projects not directly related to their roles. Let them develop different skills alongside their main job. For example, if employees identify opportunities to change how the firm handles client calls, let them take the initiative themselves.

Provide leadership opportunities: Give employees the ability to flex their leadership skills. For instance, you can start a committee with non-executive employees to advise business leaders on key initiatives. Or you can launch ERGs run by employees, or create reverse-mentoring programs.

Hire entrepreneurs: If a former entrepreneur wants to join your company, hiring them could help promote entrepreneurial spirit.

Treat employees like partners: Rather than make the distinction between your role and those beneath you clear, treat employees like partners. Keep them in the loop on important decisions. Survey them for their opinions and feedback.

Offer incentives: Offer bonuses, raises, stock options, and more to proactive employees. Create a system that rewards employees who pursue side projects or entrepreneurial ventures within your company.

Reduce micromanagement: Watchful managers disempower employees. Instead, reduce micromanagement. Encourage managers to take a step back and let employees work on their own terms.

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