Entrepreneurship and mission

I believe entrepreneurs have a particular worldview—a set of “instincts.” Below is a list of “instincts” which characterize successful entrepreneurs. It is taken from an e-zine article by Jeff Chavez. I like the word instincts, because it implies a way of thinking that is almost subconscious, just like a worldview. Following each of the listed “instincts” is a comment I add to demonstrate the missional connection.

Here’s a quick look at the 11 Killer Instincts of Entrepreneurship, by Jeff Chavez, with a corresponding comment in italics from me.

1. The Solution Instinct: This is about ideas and always seeing them. It’s about seeing new opportunities while traveling, shopping, or working. Seeing problems and potential solutions to those problems is at the heart of valuable ideas and business models.

The missional element is problem-solving. Problems are opportunities for solutions that come from creativity, hard work, and the application of wisdom. The Solution Instinct tells us that a problem is not inevitable; a problem can be solved. Change and improvement is possible and desirable.

2. The Detective Instinct: This is about fact-finding and due-diligence. It’s about letting go of the emotion and excitement of a good idea and taking a venture-capitalist approach. This instinct is something that keeps one constantly assessing how a business model will work, scale, and succeed… without personal bias.

The missional element is openness to new ideas, new facts, new information that can inform the process of change and progress. It is curiosity with a purpose or mission, based on the belief that better information can lead to a better way; productivity can be improved; success can be enhanced; failure can be avoided.

3. The Great Communicator Instinct: This is about connecting and constantly selling. It’s a constant awareness that every point of communication matters. Whether communicating with partners, investors, vendors, employees, or competitors; every communication is an opportunity to strengthen your company.

The missional element is communicating meaningfully with people in a purposeful way. All human contact can have purpose. All communication can be strategic. From conversations and web sites, to business cards and email, to DVDs and print communications, to business luncheons and special events—all can be centered on progress and achievement. Salesmanship and relationship is missional.

4. The Youthful Genius Instinct: This is about doing what you love. When we were young, we dreamed big dreams and showed glimmers of what we might become. Tapping into the expectation of our youth is central to successful entrepreneurship.

The missional element is passionate joy. The resolve to reach for your dream, 
the joy of pursuing a magnificent goal, the thrill of a pursuit that builds on your strengths and captures your imagination—all this is central to the the entrepreneurial-missional mindset.

5. The Entrepreneurial Heritage Instinct: This is about how our heritage can reveal some of our natural gifts. What has your family and ancestors been successful at already? Exploring your roots can help one tap into opportunity. There is a reason why many families pass along entrepreneurial success and create “dynasties” of their own

Is there an entrepreneurial / missional DNA? No doubt, some people are born with a greater threshold for risk and a greater propensity for vision and salesmanship.

6. The Risk-Taker Instinct: This is about going out on a ledge. No risk, no reward. It’s a fundamental factor of business building or almost any major endeavor. Finding the calculated balance of risk and opportunity is key.

Risk is a core element in mission. It is the willingness to accept loss and endure 
the possibility of failure in order to achieve a greater gain. All great mission accomplishments involve bold, calculated risk.

7. The Work-Horse Instinct: This is about paying the price. Doing whatever it takes. Those “overnight successes” usually require at least 5 years of hard work and incredible sacrifice to get there.

The missional element is hard work and sacrifice in order to achieve a worthy goal, an obvious factor for any significant achievement.

8. The Thick-Skinned Instinct: This is about being tough. Resilience, optimism and a positive mindset reside in every great entrepreneur. The fundamental key to success in attaining goals? Never give up.

The missional element is optimism. Entrepreneurial people have the ability to see opportunity when others see only failure and doom. Resilience keeps the missional person going in spite of setbacks and great obstacles.

9. The Flexibility Instinct: This is about being willing to change. Emotion and pride must be removed from the process while building a business and paying attention to the best route to take. The right path naturally eventuates; if you’re willing to recognize it and take it.

Flexibility makes change possible. Any great missional enterprise requires change, innovation, new ways of thinking, paradigm shifts, worldview adjustments, changes in direction and behavior.

10. The Human Instinct: This is about people. Attracting the best people is more important than the business model itself. Treating people well, leading well, and serving with care is a fundamental reason why anything worthwhile should be built in the first place.

The missional element is humanity. People are moral agents designed by God with the creativity and drive that enables them to work with others for progress, change, development, transformation. Mission is simply designed-in to the DNA of human beings, a reflection of the Creator in whose image man and woman are made.

11. The Knowledge-Quest Instinct: This is about constantly learning. Reading, thinking, listening, observing, absorbing, and applying is a hallmark trait of a great entrepreneur.

The missional element is curiosity, the capacity to learn, the drive to understand. Learning and reflection are critical to meaningful, purposeful change. Truly effective mission is impossible without new understanding—new knowledge, skills and attitudes.

These are unique instincts and in my experience, everyone possesses at least a touch of each of them. And it’s my observation that every natural instinct can be discovered, uncovered, and developed by anyone interested in doing so.

From this list of entrepreneurial instincts, I conclude:

Successful entrepreneurs are missional leaders with the ability to identify and seize opportunity, 
and work with other people in order to achieve great goals.

Are you a Christian entrepreneur who is interested in global mission? Can you see yourself being a world-changer through advocacy for a cross-cultural partnership? We can help you go from success to significance through The Beauty of Partnership learning journey—designed specifically for entrepreneurial leaders. Please contact me, Werner Mischke: werner@mission1.org.

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