What Makes a Person Entrepreneurial?
When you think of an entrepreneur, what’s the first image that springs to mind? You might picture the archetype of a 21st-century entrepreneur, or someone who “organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”20 Maybe you think of a young Ivy League graduate with a big vision and little to lose. Maybe you imagine a mid-career manager who is disillusioned by their current job and is excited by what appears to be endless opportunity bubbling up in Silicon Valley, or as someone who has built a multimillion-dollar business out of sheer necessity. Or perhaps, you see a whiz kid who dropped out of school but who codes for hours on end and keeps their finger on the pulse of sectors booming with innovation, disruption, and lots of free-flowing capital.
The first people to come to mind may not be an assistant superintendent who led reforms in her public school district, like Jennifer Ferrari, or a lifetime publishing executive who shifted to the world of art and quilt-making, like Carol Ann Waugh—yet they are incredibly entrepreneurial people. The stereotype of young, idealistic, and technology-laden millennials and Gen Zs as entrepreneurs excludes hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial-minded workers, many of whom work for companies as employees. What you may not have realized is that entrepreneurial people are all around us, even if they are not launching businesses or nonprofits—yet.
While it is true that some leaders have always self-identified as entrepreneurial, some other leaders develop key entrepreneurial skills throughout their career and life experiences. That is precisely what happened with one of our InnovateHERs, Lisa Schmucki, who spent 30 years in the corporate world at top education publishing and media firms. She spent years developing marketing campaigns and new products. Even though she enjoyed her corporate career, at some point, she started wondering, “Could I be as successful building something of my own?” When social networking took off in 2007, it sparked an idea she couldn’t resist. With her years of marketing and business experience and the support of an angel investor, she decided it was the right time to take the risk of starting her own company—a professional social network for the education community, edWeb.net. Since then, edWeb.net has become a groundbreaking professional learning platform for educators around the world. Lisa has created a successful new business model with edWeb.net by providing free professional learning for PreK–12 educators that is supported by the sponsorship of hundreds of leading education organizations.
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