The entrepreneurial mindset

It is often said that the most important people in any country are the entrepreneurs. They create jobs, bring new ideas and innovations that solve a society’s problems and generally make the world a better place. Think about the impact companies like Careem have had in Pakistan and changed people’s lives for the better. The need of the hour in Pakistan currently is also entrepreneurship. It’s not just about starting a small enterprise, but corporate executives too need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, which is the focus of this article.
The Himont Group is a Pakistani success story. Under the guidance and leadership of Intesar Siddiqui, the company has grown to be one of the market leaders in pharmaceuticals. Utilising his extensive experience of working in the industry for a multinational corporation, Mr. Siddiqui set about establishing an institution rather than a traditional family-owned enterprise. He shared some of his ideas on the twin subjects of entrepreneurship and innovation with us, “If anyone has innovative ideas and is thinking about starting a business, I encourage them to do so.”
Pakistan needs people like that. The entrepreneurs create jobs; they provide revenue to the country and can also bring in foreign exchange. When my friends ask me what their children should do with their lives, my suggestion is to start a small enterprise and then make it bigger. If you have clarity of thought about what you want to do, then be persistent and Insha Allah you will succeed.
Entrepreneurship in the context of the corporate environment is somewhat different from the traditional way we think of entrepreneurs –i.e. as the founders of smaller enterprises. In some ways, the emphasis on entrepreneurship in the corporate sector is designed to recreate the enthusiasm, passion, drive, and motivation that is associated with those self-starters who launch their own businesses.
It is generally believed that as organisations become larger, they tend to lose some of the entrepreneurial flair and passion of the early days which got them this far. Yet to hold on to that success, it is crucial for them to maintain the zest of the early days.
To be a successful entrepreneur, first and foremost, you need to be creative and think outside the box. You also need to be persistent and can inspire enthusiasm among your colleagues. And finally, you must be able to sell the dream to those who matter. Successful entrepreneurs are not constrained by a shortage of resources, be they financial or otherwise; their single-mindedness keeps propelling them forward.
Entrepreneurship in a corporate setting became known as ‘Intrapreneurship’, a term coined by Gifford Pinchot, many years ago. Intrapreneur is the name given to employees who come up with their own ideas and then bring those ideas to life with the assistance and resources offered by their employers. Not unlike entrepreneurs, except that intrapreneurs do this for the organisation rather than for themselves.
The qualities that we admire among entrepreneurs, such as risk-taking, steadfastness and inventive thinking are often discouraged in larger corporations. The challenge for business leaders, especially those in larger organisations is that simply the CEO being of an entrepreneurial mindset alone is not enough. This needs to cascade all the way down the line. To create a truly entrepreneurial organisation you need to ensure that the systems, processes, and vision of the organisation support the entrepreneurial mindset and approach.
I have formulated some questions which would help you determine whether your organisation is creating the necessary environment to encourage intrapreneurship within it or not. The first one entails if the organisation has the management team with the right skills and empowerment to lead innovation. Are multidisciplinary teams established to drive innovation? Does the organisation tolerate failures? Are the mistakes shared to ensure people learn from each other? Do the key people of the organisation have a track record of achieving intrapreneurial success? Do the bureaucratic systems and reporting requirements within the organisation frustrate intrapreneurial employees? Do the intrapreneurs require approval at every stage of their activities or are they allowed to get on with the task within the agreed parameters?
Is there a separate department or a team to drive innovation within the organisation? What discretionary time is allocated to staff members to work on new ideas? How far ahead is your organisation planning? If a new product becomes successful, does the team that championed the idea remain involved? Do the employees feel committed to the organisation? How is the customer focus maintained during the innovation process? How do you measure the success of your creative teams? Do you encourage small steps in innovation as well as giant leaps? All these questions should be regarded as thought starters and will help you figure out the areas that require attention in your organisation.
It is not sufficient for business leaders alone to have an entrepreneurial mindset, but this mindset needs to transcend all the way down to the grassroots level of an organisation. There will never be a better time to focus on developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in your organisation than now.

The writer is an Australian Chartered Accountant, International Author and Management Consultant. He can be reached at

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