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The Opposite of an Entrepreneur is NOT an Employee—GLS22 Faculty Spotlight

The Opposite of an Entrepreneur is NOT an Employee—GLS22 Faculty Spotlight

Entrepreneurship is not a personality trait, nor is it something you are necessarily born with. So, for leaders who want to pull out the best in their teams, especially in the midst of change, it’s a great reminder to realize that entrepreneurship can be learned by anyone—because to be an entrepreneur is to be human. Award-winning entrepreneur, Sahar Hashemi is a big believer in this idea. With a mission to connect the heart as well as the head in big business, she distils the unnecessarily complex subject of innovation and entrepreneurial behavior down into simple, actionable, and human terms.

With a wealth of insight to share we’re excited to welcome Sahar Hashemi to The Global Leadership Summit stage in 2022! Get Tickets >>

Described as “a change agent” and “a powerful catalyst to drive entrepreneurship within big corporations,” offers a simple, powerful toolkit to unlock start-up culture at big companies. A former lawyer, she started two ground-breaking businesses: the United Kingdom’s first coffee bar chain, Coffee Republic, which she grew to 110 stores and a £50 million market cap, and Skinny Candy, a market segment-defining brand of sugar-free sweets. Her first book, Anyone Can Do It, became a bestseller by demystifying the idea that entrepreneurship is an innate trait. Her latest, Start Up Forever, stems from her experience working with large corporations over the last decade and addresses one of the most pressing questions now facing large organizations: how to be more entrepreneurial. She has also been named by Her Majesty the Queen (UK) as a “Pioneer to the life of the nation” as well as an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity.

Check out this reel of Sahar’s speaking highlights!

Get your tickets to join us at GLS22, and until then, get a taste for Sahar’s insight and enjoy this article on what it really means to be an entrepreneur, and why she believes everyone can develop entrepreneurial skills.

The Opposite of an Entrepreneur is NOT an Employee

The other day I was looking up for synonyms for the word “entrepreneur” on when my eye caught the “antonyms” section directly below. There was the word “employee” — meaning the polar opposite of an entrepreneur is an employee!

I couldn’t believe it. That plays right into the biggest myth of them all—that entrepreneurs are a “different” kind of human, almost with different chromosomes.

Anyone can do it.

Being an entrepreneur is not a personality trait. It is not or something you are born with or not. I was definitely not born an entrepreneur. A mini Richard Branson growing up, I was not. I was not the least bit imaginative or creative, with no leadership flair. Having started my working life as an employee, I became an entrepreneur in the process of following through with a business idea I had. It’s just that in starting a business, I was “forced” to behave in a certain way—to behave how all other entrepreneurs behave. Which is why, for those that know me, I titled the book I wrote about my own entrepreneurial journey Anyone Can Do It. Meaning exactly that: anyone can do it.

My belief is that the actual process of starting a new business sparks the innate entrepreneurial qualities every human being has. The whole process is so completely out of your comfort zone—so difficult—that you end up digging deep inside yourself to access skills you didn’t even know you had and make a big behavior shift, because that’s all you have. Necessity really does become the mother of invention.

An employee working in an established company has almost the opposite experience. The only way you are “forced” to behave is to keep it all very safe. The business already has customers, resources, and systems. It has a comfort zone. All you have to do is keep the status quo ticking along and not rock the boat, there being no need to reinvent anything or challenge yourself too much. No need for behavior or mindset shifts. You can afford to just coast along. As a result, you don’t need to dig deep to access all your skills and abilities. They remain untapped.

Ticking along is no longer an option.

The relentless pace of disruption we live in, is changing this equation dramatically. The corporate environment is losing its comfort zone. Ticking along is no longer an option. Even customers are no longer a given. A big market share today doesn’t mean the same market share tomorrow. An established company has to fight for customers and resources every single day just like a startup has to. The boat is rocking uncontrollably. You can’t just coast along.

Embrace an entrepreneurial mindset.

What this means is that now it’s not that different working in a startup or in an established company. Everyone operates in the same uncertainty and pace as a startup environment, regardless of size or longevity. So, what we will be seeing is employees having to make massive mindset and behavior shifts out of sheer force of necessity. Just like I had to when I started my business. Just like every entrepreneur has had to. They will need to dig deep and tap into their entrepreneurial traits that might have been previously dormant. They will have to think creatively and find solutions almost out of thin air. This will happen naturally, just like it did for me, turning from an employee mindset into an entrepreneur’s mindset. I had no idea I had these qualities until I was “forced” to use them.

If you’re human, you’re an entrepreneur.

You don’t need a degree or training course for them. You don’t need to study empathy, curiosity, resourcefulness, or resilience. You are born with them. It’s just that maybe, until now, you didn’t need to use them at work. You just kept them for your personal life. Now you will have to use them at work. It will take practice to feel confident enough to use what you might have considered “personal” qualities at work. But it will be worth it. And it’s a no brainer if you’re into self-improvement.

If you’re human, you’re an entrepreneur. Activating your inner entrepreneur is the easiest yet most transformative skill ready for you to tap into, right now.