In their introduction to Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL), Year Ones are taught the seven traits of ALA students, and led to understand that by time they graduate they should be: autodidactic, Africanist, a collaborator, a communicator, a critical thinker, entrepreneurial and ethical.
First though, they have to figure their purpose, and the first of several design challenges given them throughout the year is to pitch prototype ideas on how one gets to develop those traits.
We caught them in the first phase of the process, and asked: How does one become more entrepreneurial?
It’s a brilliant question – I’ve had to come up with many answers this week. And I’m now coming to the understanding that it’s a continuous process. First, you have to understand yourself, so you can gauge what level you’re on, and keep engaging yourself in any way possible. Entrepreneurship is something you cultivate, not something that you can learn in an instant.
It depends on perspective – what entrepreneurship or the development of entrepreneurial skills mean to you. In my journey here, I wasn’t considering it as part of my choice – now, I see it to be more imaginative, innovative, being able to provide a solution. In EL, mostly students tend to focus on development skills as a core attribute of EL class, which is not really the correct interpretation. So I thought of “Be a Course Boss” – this idea tries to push EL development skills outside of EL class – it integrates every elective besides Math in your first year at ALA through EL skills development, making EL skills as narrow as possible – whatever the skills is, it’s not about the competition – it’s the motive to drive and encourage them…
We have to be self-aware, know our strengths and weaknesses (growth opportunities). Once you know, if you want to become an entrepreneur you have to cultivate these traits: you have to be a self-starter – if you see a problem, try to fix it and you have to be resilient – being an entrepreneur is difficult; you may not have the support you need, but you have to believe in yourself. Being entrepreneurial is not something you learn, it’s something you develop.
You become more entrepreneurial through inspiration – it plays a big part in your creativity, developing one’s ideas and things that are new, not implemented. I think gaining different perspectives gives different viewpoint on entrepreneurship. Through inspiration people gain different perspective – if they see someone doing something that inspires them, it gives.
Through our challenge we realised that to a lot of people the word entrepreneurship is all about business, making money – what we did through or project, we focused mainly on creativity aspect – I think it plays a much bigger role than people would naturally assume.
I think an entrepreneur is someone who is a hustler, who makes good out of difficult situations…someone who sees opportunities in problems, and always tries to become better at what they’re doing and to solve the problem they’re facing, whether personal, in careers or whatever they’re doing in different aspects of life. They never take no for answer, and are critical thinkers – creative, they know how to make decisions in diff times, and good with people. You become more entrepreneurial through practical experiences –reading a book is good, but it’s only theoretical. Through experiences you resolve problems with an entrepreneurial mind set – and by questioning: How can I lessen the problems I have now – how can I benefit people along the way?
For me entrepreneurship has a lot to do with creativity and need – so it’s about identifying the need, and finding creative solutions to solve the need. Before the challenge, I thought it’s just about business – making your money, and becoming a millionaire. Now I think it’s so much deeper than that – and it’s about having a passion for the need you want to solve, and putting everything into that and to actually solve it.
I think it’s being able to identify a specific problem and coming up with ideas to solve it; looking for a better. Before, I also used to think it was about business or money. Now I find it’s the best way to solve problems – not just for me, but for everyone else.