Have A Mind For Business? Entrepreneurs Think Differently!

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-05-1712

Do you have a mind for business? To tell you the truth, I never thought of myself as entrepreneurial. Having nurtured a long enough career in the tech industry, I imagined myself as becoming a “lifer” who would be working the 9 to 5 for some time. So imagine my surprise when I ended up changing course quite unexpectedly to try the entrepreneurial route.

There were many reasons for this but my main motivation to strike it out on my own was to try to achieve a better work/life balance and gain a more flexible schedule; all this to help support the daily needs of a growing family. I had documented my plans, feelings and concerns about transitioning from employee to entrepreneur in these posts (what I refer to as “retirement” here actually means “retiring from being an employee”):

As far as motivations, there’s nothing unique here — many people have the same goals in life and work as I do. But I feel that necessity and serendipity also played a part in steering me in this new direction as an “internet entrepreneur”: it was also because of worrisome health conditions that I decided to quit my job and veer away from my usual routine — all of which turned out to be caused by stress issues that I could no longer manage. Well, miraculously, the health issues cleared once I started doing my own thing! My medical bills have dropped from several hundred bucks a month down to zero. As you can see, becoming an entrepreneur has some great perks and benefits that go beyond the financial.

entrepreneurial mind
Image from UC Santa Cruz

But as mentioned, I’ve always doubted that I was cut out for entrepreneurship. I play too conservatively and have a great desire for stability and security. As they say, we all have a certain relationship with money; while many of us wish we had more of it, we are all motivated to want it for various and differing reasons. In my case, I look upon money as a means to feel more secure and stable — I do have a bag lady mentality after all 😉 .

More thoughts on this by our guest writer, Jacques Sprenger:

business risk
Image from Getty Images

Do You Have A Mind For Business? How Entrepreneurs Think

A neuroscientist informed his online readers that businesspersons’ and entrepreneurs’ brains perform differently when they have to make a money decision, that is, different from managers who do not own a business. He says: the entrepreneurs displayed much riskier behavior by consistently betting larger amounts when gambling. Even though their logical processes were very similar, the main difference was in the amount they risked. Now I know why I am not a professional poker player!

Taking A Calculated Risk

The author adds, not surprisingly, that gambling addicts are quite different from business risk takers. Entrepreneurs are much more creative and will not gamble their money, they will risk it only after analyzing the odds of success very carefully, unlike the compulsive gambler. So we can realistically ask: “Can one learn to become an entrepreneur or successful businessperson?”

The author is hesitant to say yes because our individual neurochemistry is so different from one individual to another. He even suggests, very timidly, that using drugs like Ritalin can facilitate our transformation. Well Ghosts of Bill Gates! Don’t even consider this; the best advice I can give you is to act within your limits and you’ll prosper — modestly or amazingly according to your levels of dopamine (produced naturally by the brain, not by your local drug pusher).

The Entrepreneurial Quiz

Another scientist, Thomas Harrison, accepts the role of innate factors: while Harrison concurs that there are indeed born entrepreneurs, he concedes that others may have latent traits, which can be teased out and developed by using the eight techniques that he describes (in his book called Instinct: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA). So do you have a chance in business? His intriguing book attempts to make that determination.

Now this site offers you a businessperson test. It suggests that the first question you should answer when you are thinking of going into business is “Am I the type?” You are going to have at least one very important employee — yourself, of course — so it would be interesting to see where you stand (and if you have the disposition) before launching a venture.

Were You Born an Entrepreneur?

You can also try another test that will help you determine whether you have the right stuff to open your own business: think back to your childhood. Take for instance the case of two sisters, who are now over 30, who couldn’t have been more different. The older one was more introverted, more intellectual, and more careful in every aspect of her life. The younger one was totally extroverted and very early in life decided to open her own business. She bought a bunch of candy with her allowance and took it to the elementary school where she proceeded to sell it at a handsome profit. She was only 6 years old. Needless to say, she is now the proud owner of three houses where she collects the rent every month. Her sister decided it was easier to marry a rich guy.

Of course you can open your own business without being Bill Gates; there are now many options (remember that crisis means opportunity) out there that only require a small investment and a little training, such as franchises. If you are a good administrator — something that can be learned — it may be enough to be successful. Think of all these “kids” who write applications for the iPhone and make a fortune. They risk absolutely nothing. So talk to your entrepreneurial friends: learn from them or ride on their coattails. And take a chance, if you dare!

Thanks to Jacques Sprenger for his contributions to this article.

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

SBL May 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Not just thinking differently – but acting differently. Most of us go through life following others – either their actions or their directions. To be a true entreprneur – you have to think for yourself and not listen when others tell you, you cannot do it.

This requires a true opening of the eyes – to be able to see what could be – not what is or what someone else wants you to see.

Nice post.

Michael Harr @ Wealth...Uncomplicated May 17, 2009 at 5:53 pm

@SVB – Isn’t it GREAT running the show?! I always enjoying seeing comments like yours. There is a great quote from Inc. Magazine’s founder:

I always tried to tell the editors to think of the businessperson as an artist using both sides of his brain. You’re not writing for a rational person. You are writing for someone who has the soul of an artist, and his expression is business.

While there are many paths to entrepreneurship, there is little doubt that Inc’s founder was on to something.

Michael Harr @ Wealth...Uncomplicated May 18, 2009 at 1:28 am

@SVB – Isn’t it GREAT running the show?! I always enjoying seeing comments like yours. There is a great quote from Inc. Magazine’s founder:

I always tried to tell the editors to think of the businessperson as an artist using both sides of his brain. You’re not writing for a rational person. You are writing for someone who has the soul of an artist, and his expression is business.

While there are many paths to entrepreneurship, there is little doubt that Inc’s founder was on to something.
BTW I love your blog!

Data Entry Services May 18, 2009 at 8:36 am

I am a cautions, person who does not gamble big. I am also a business owner for over 15 years. I think the difference is that I have had a working husband so I don’t feel the make or break aspect of being a business owner.

Tisha Tolar May 18, 2009 at 10:00 am

SVB – Bravo! Love, love, love this post. To me, there is not much more intriguing than the entrepreneurial mind. I read a quote once by Albert Einstein and can only paraphrase without Googling that “creativity is intelligence having fun”. (Ok – so I Googled and it was Albert Einstein!)

I really appreciate your posting on this topic and the inclusion of your older posts as well that sort of takes us on the journey with you. Great job! I linked from our blog because this post should be shared with so many who need to read it.


Tisha Tolar May 18, 2009 at 10:02 am

Oh and to Michael Harr – thanks for bringing that quote into my entrepreneurial mind!!

Doctor S May 18, 2009 at 12:42 pm

That fear you encountered in the very beginning questioning whether you had the mentality for this world is one of the reasons I am still working my normal 9 to 5 job. I am only 25 and trying to build up more experiences to help prepare me for the big jump one day. Calculating that risk is something that I do often, but I know I can not take that jump into the E world until I get my own personal finances in check. If that stuff is not ready then the risk for failure just skyrockets. Thanks for the great links, I too think I would be much healthier if I made my own hours and worked for myself, I will take the grey hairs from stress!

Kristy @ Master Your Card May 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

I am definitely not the entrepreneurial type. I don’t really want the responsibility of running my own business. Though, technically speaking, I don’t mind freelance writing and when the opportunity presents itself, I’ll do that. However, I don’t know if that qualifies as entrepreneurial in the sense that I’m referring to. I don’t want to write about nonfiction topics, I want to be an author – fiction and film. So, it’s a little different. But, I have a great amount of respect for those who are willing to put themselves out there like that. It’s a great step in the right direction for those with the drive to do it. I’m always thrilled for those who choose that path.

The studies are interesting. I’ve always thought those who are willing to take larger risks have different patterns of thought, but it’s interesting to see that put into terms we’re familiar with. Thanks for sharing!

MLR May 19, 2009 at 8:31 am

I have been very business minded since I was like 6.

I have a guest post on Frugal Dad which gives some details on the things I did as a kid. (The Three Most Influential Lessons My Parents Taught Me)

I don’t know why or how, because my parents aren’t particularly entrepreneurial. But, alas, here we are!

Michael Temple May 22, 2009 at 11:51 am

According to the first test above I am a born entrepreneur with a score of 21. I feel I have always been a born entrepreneur as I started my first business at 11. It was a lawn care business and while I didn’t really like the work I loved the business. I was interested in that Silicon Blogger wrote at the beginning she was more influenced by security. Me to. I took a test in college that said this was the number one trait I would seek in a job. However number 2 for me was freedom.

I discovered now that I have been self-employed for over 5 years that this is the absolute BEST security you can ever have. I am pretty much coasting through the worse recession in my lifetime and it isn’t really phasing me. I have clients and I am busy and thinking up new products and services everyday. I think where people go wrong is thinking that a job is security. With a job one pink slip from one person stops ALL of your income at once. In your own business most people have lots of projects and clients (or at least I do) and as a result the loss of any one or even a few of them doesn’t stop all of my income. In my humble opinion you have so much more control of your economic destiny in your own business that I simply would never go back to working for anyone else ever again.

Faye May 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Okay, so now I can rationalize the 9 year old entrepreneur I used to be (this was about 30-odd years ago)!

Short story: Lemonade stand, road works crew, when they asked if I had beer, I went to Dad’s fridge and got them some. The babysitter almost popped her cork.

But it’s all in my brain.

Pat June 12, 2009 at 8:11 am

Capitalism and Crime: how well they work together.

More profits have been made with this combination than any system on earth that it’s a wonder why more nations are not preaching its advantages.

Moving beyond capitalism and crime is something mankind has yet to be able to do, but it’s amusing to see articles about social conscience and environmental conservation without debating the real downside of capitalism and crime.

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