Is the entrepreneurial spirit something you are taught or something that you develop within yourself? There is a very appreciated and motivational idea that entrepreneurial spirit is something that comes from within, from the desire to build something great from nothing and push yourself to the very limits in order to achieve your great goals. This way, entrepreneurship comes from the very core of the individual and everyone can succeed, no matter the odds; all you need is the passion, the belief and the dream.
Now, let’s step back a little and see where this idea comes from. Does it come from the underprivileged countries where the political environment puts the very life of its people in danger? Does it come from the nations with a more traditionalist and socialist heritage that still remember the idea of a powerfully-regulated market, workers cooperatives and so on? Usually not. It comes from the nations where people were traditionally engaged in businesses and have a pro-business attitude, appreciate the freedom of the market and have a firm individualist cultural background.
We’re not saying that the entrepreneurial spirit is only bound to be born in these nations, what we are saying is that it is very much influenced by it. Of course, being born in the US does not guarantee that you will definitely be another Warren Buffet or Steve Jobs. Entrepreneurship is as much taught as it also has to come from some “madness” within. The individual has to be a very ambitious, passionate and determined human being, courageous to the bone and willing to sacrifice a lot for his ideas. But on the other hand, these are personality traits that do not, necessarily guarantee the makings of an entrepreneur. A very ambitious, courageous man, willing to make sacrifices for what he believes in can also be an alpinist who wants to conquer the tallest peaks in the world 10 times in a lifetime. That also comes at great risk, it asks for preparations, determination, guts and the list can continue.
But these personality traits listed above, together with growing up in a culture that values role models like Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel, Elon Musk or Bill Gates make some 50 percent of becoming the next, big, young entrepreneur.
Therefore, let’s see exactly, in a detailed manner, how the social, cultural and political background can influence the entrepreneurial spirit:
- Culture: Culture and entrepreneurial spirit have very much in common. In countries where entrepreneurship is the trend, even in public schools, students are encouraged to become their own bosses, no matter the price. Teachers turn into missionaries of entrepreneurship and whole of media preaches entrepreneurial spirit. A traditionalist culture where people spend less and save for “the tough times” discourages entrepreneurship. For these types of cultures, that are afraid of risks, the returns from a business are less attractive than the returns from a job. Just think, if you were raised believing that keeping your money under the mattress is a lot safer and beneficial for your future than investing it, how can you come to think otherwise? If you live in a culture that thinks likewise and you have an old uncle or grandpa who is thrift, lives in misery, but has an important amount of money hidden under the mattress who everyone in the family craves, what would you think is the best way to act? Of course, these examples might seem absurd in the 21st century, but do not be fooled, they still exist.
- Politics: Unstable political conditions are, most notable, the deathbed of entrepreneurship. Investors fear for the safety of their investments, people are more concerned with what will happen tomorrow, than in a few years. Also, government support through infrastructure development is of importance. The tax laws also play a very important part in encouraging or not the entrepreneurial spirit. Economic freedom, favourable legislation and very few “hurdles” in the way of starting a business are also key ingredients that favour entrepreneurship. Good roads, power, communication facilities, few corruption and minimum bureaucratic delays are not to be forgotten when starting a business.
- Social factors: What we call now consumerism is very beneficial for entrepreneurship. A society that craves material goods encourages people to start their new businesses as the demand grows and the returns you get from a business can better support personal needs, than that coming from a daily job. The general purchasing power of the people also plays a major role in the success of new entrepreneurial venues.
In conclusion, the entrepreneurial spirit is not just something that God puts inside some individuals only. Entrepreneurial spirit is a complicated equation that has a lot to do with the political, cultural and social background someone grows up in, with how the people around him see entrepreneurship and encourage it, but also with his inner makings and beliefs and ambition. It’s complicated!