en•tre•pre•neur (ahn-truh–pruh-nur, noun): one who organizes and manages a business or enterprise, usually involving a considerable initiative and risk
Did somebody say enterprise? Cue the Star Trek theme.
All jokes aside, I am by no means, in the entrepreneurial sense, a risk-taker. But on the road to graduation, students are told to do just that: take risks. It worked for Steve Jobs, didn’t it? His Stanford commencement address made it seem like just about anyone could take a risk and reap wildly profitable rewards.
I commend Jobs and the other start-up Shakespeares who discuss the intricacies of entrepreneurship at graduations across the country. Everyone wants to feel inspired, be their own boss, achieve their dreams, become insanely rich, and change the world. But I’m having trouble reconciling the notion that risks are paramount to success – that failure is a necessary piece of the puzzle. After all, these walking success stories do live in a (Silicon) bubble, unaware of just how ridiculous it sounds for recent grads to “take a risk” nowadays.
To put that into perspective, the biggest risk I took today (which completely backfired) was driving an alternate route to work. For the increasingly paranoid millennial desperate to hang on to a job, strolling in eight minutes late is riskier than buying gas station sushi.
Concerns aside, I do think there’s something to be said for those over-zealous commencement speeches. We may not amass fortune by launching the latest tech craze, but we can tap into that same spirit that propelled Steve Jobs and crew. I’m not talking about a Long Island Medium here, folks. I’m referring to an entrepreneurial spirit – the one we’ve all got, even if we’re afraid to use it.
In the same vein as The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, adopt these four entrepreneurial habits:
Have you ever heard of an entrepreneur waiting to pitch their next big idea? It never happens. They know there’s a chance someone else may be developing that same concept (and most likely planning to announce it at tomorrow’s tech convention). Time is of the essence, and it should be for recent grads, too. Don’t wait to write a cover letter, reach out to your network or apply for that job. It’s crunch time – and with countless other candidates out there, you can’t afford to wait.
Have a say.
Entrepreneurs believe wholeheartedly in their endeavors. That translates way beyond believing in yourself – you’ve got to believe in your opinions, too. Don’t be afraid to have a voice to offer your perspective. If you’re not comfortable speaking up to support something you believe in, how can you expect others to do the same?
Entrepreneurs are constantly seeking new ventures and nurturing new relationships, often without the help of LinkedIn. Follow their lead! Get out in the trenches and actually talk to people. You never know who you might meet in that “small world” moment, or who may open the door to bigger and better opportunities. And if you do go the entrepreneurial route, perfecting this habit will make you a pro presenter when selling your idea to investors.
Be a do-gooder.
Even if you haven’t influenced the next global tech phenomenon, you can still operate in that mindset. Make whatever career path you choose meaningful, and give back whenever you can. Having a positive impact, no matter how small, does change the world for the better. And that’s something anybody, investor or not, can get behind.