Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

My friend Gigie Peñalosa has been successfully running her own company, VCP Trading International, Inc., while my other friend Gina Camacho is a very successful Paralegal at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Los Angeles, California.

They both have high rational and emotional intelligence and are highly creative. They are both driven and sociable. Gigie is happy to be an entrepreneur and Gina is equally happy to be an employee. Gigie looks back to those days when she was still employed and is exultant that she made that decision to be her own boss, work in her own time and build a business. Gina is delighted to have a steady job, income and perks such as a retirement plan.

Who can be an entrepreneur? Who are comfortable with an eight-to-five routine?

According to Author Bill Wagner, The Entrepreneur Next Door, there is a certain personality type that fits the entrepreneur. He defines personality as a manifestation of a person's core. "It is who people are when they are alone. It is the essence of the person who looks back when that person looks into a mirror. Personality is the stable, least changing aspect of a person's natural style. I discovered and witnessed that if people know and understand the behavioral requirements of a particular position, they have a better chance of manifesting and maintaining those behavior.

"People's mindsets often determine how likely they are to succeed at making changes or how likely they are to fail. Some people believe that no matter what, they can win, whereas others resign themselves to losing before they even begin. Research studies indicate that if you have the right personality to do a particular job your chances of success are five times greater than if you have the wrong personality. There is another side of these studies, and that there is always a small percentage of people with the wrong personality for a job who are successful. It appears that these individuals use a cognitive approach to determine the right behaviors for the job, take the corresponding actions, and therefore achieve the desired results."

These are some of Mr. Wagner's conclusions:

a.. The key to entrepreneurial success is to be aware of the traits you have and to develop or hire the essential success traits that you need to bridge the gap.
b.. True personality traits are difficult to mask especially when someone is drunk, sick or angry.
c.. By understanding your personality, you can leverage your strengths, improve your weaknesses and limitations, and discover the type of organizations that you're best served in creating.
d.. For every strength there is a corresponding and diametrically opposed developmental consideration or potential limitations that can cause us to sabotage ourselves.
e.. Failure to plan is planned failure.
f.. Get yourself a coach or join a CEO/entrepreneur peer group. By reading about and observing the strategies of successful entrepreneurs with different personalities, you can discern what will work for you and how you might leverage that knowledge and awareness.
g.. There are three broad categories of personalities: Generalist (strategic thinkers, big picture, preferring to be measured by overall results, more risk-oriented), Specialist (tactical thinkers,
detail-oriented, experts, more risk-averse) and Transition (similar amount of dominance and compliance, thereby making it difficult to really determine the personality).
h.. Generalists are motivated by ego, status, sense of urgency and independence. They have a tendency to learn at a faster pace.
i.. Specialists are motivated by stability, security and structure. They have a tendency to learn at a slower pace.
j.. Female entrepreneurs seem to have more drive and sociability than their male counterparts.
k.. Male entrepreneurs seem to be aggressive and analytical than their female counterparts.
l.. Entrepreneurs are rarely satisfied with either their performance or the performance of their people.
m.. One of the challenges business owners have is that they have very little appreciation as to why others can't do what entrepreneurs so easily accomplish. But if employees could accomplish the same things as entrepreneurs, they wouldn't be their employees; they would become their
n.. Most entrepreneurial types not only have an innate urge to 'get back to work,' many have the inner drive to accumulate wealth and continue to increase their financial security.

Mr. Wagner included a simple entrepreneurial profile survey in his book. You might want to try it.;

Friday, March 7, 2008

What are we teaching our young Filipinos?

The Rotary Club of Mandaluyong North recently conducted a career Orientation Program for some 900 senior students at Neptali Gonzales High School. President Roddy Peñalosa gave a talk on how to get into the college or university of their choice. Past Presidents Jack Sia, Bert Lomibao, Cesar Regala, President-Elect Jong Viña and Past President Rick Santos' spouse Vilma facilitated the breakout sessions. I was lead facilitator and resource person.

Instead of the usual professionals talking about their profession and schools selling their various programs, what we did was to get into the very core of the students and made them respond to pointed questions of what they want to be, their favorite skills, the types of people they want to mingle with, the career environment and geographic location they will be comfortable and productively living and working in, their support system, and others related to their dreams and the future they want for themselves. After the session, the students said they gained valuable self knowledge.

Not surprisingly, only one student want to be a priest, a big number want to go into showbiz and related artistic endeavors, a lot want to be employed in popular organizations, and a dismal number want to be entrepreneurs. Almost all want to work abroad.

What are we teaching our young Filipinos?

I am not only referring to the classroom environment, remember that we learn from all around us, e.g. parents, siblings, relatives, TV and other mass media, books, and community, government, business and church leaders and many others.

I remember when I was in high school and college that the emphasis was on getting employed right out of school. My mom is an entrepreneur, but she also encouraged me to join the working multitude. In fact she got me employed in government for security of tenure it offers and was devastated when I resigned.

I've witnessed many career orientations conducted by civic and professional organizations and the emphasis is on getting a job in perceived prestigious organizations. Nobody talks about being an entrepreneur.

And so, during times of plenty, robust economy, uncertain economy, economic layoffs and downsizing, double digit inflation, the concern is level of employment or unemployment. Government is concerned about whether people have jobs or none. Very small enterprises such as the itinerant vendors of mani, prutas, gulay, mais, and others are generally ignored. These are non-jobs and non-business. No incentives for them. No assistance. They are even at the mercy of policemen and MMDA personnel. Their net income generally exempts them from paying taxes. Many times, this business is passed on to the next generation.

What should we do?

It is not a matter of teaching our youth the skills of entrepreneurship. The important thing, for parents and teachers especially, is to mould their personality into an enterprising one.

Bill Wagner, author of The Entrepreneur Next Door, and his research team at Accord Management Systems surveyed members of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (USA) under the age of 40 and a net worth of $3.4 million. Their findings showed that these successful entrepreneurs have very strong entrepreneurial personalities, and more importantly, they are enjoying opportunities that were very well suited to who they are.

Mr. Wagner says, "Simply put, we're able to measure one's personality and predict success for a given role. The world's best bookkeeper has a great bookkeeper personality, a great salesperson has a great salesperson's personality, and a successful entrepreneur has a great entrepreneur's personality. But the bookkeeper will rarely become a great financial controller or a CFO.

"It is personality that has the greatest impact on our behavior and our choices. In fact, the entrepreneurs we studied, more than 80 percent have very similar personality traits. To experience the greatest level of success and fulfillment, entrepreneurs should choose business ventures that are in sync with their true personality. Those who choose well tend to prosper. Those who don't find a fit for their personalities make great material for TV dramas and sitcoms."

Next column, we'll detail this entrepreneurial personality. Or you can read in advance and buy the book by McGraw-Hill Publishing.;