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Entrepreneurial thinking: It’s not just for entrepreneurs

September 26, 2014
lemonade stand

Amy Gizienski, CC license

Recently I decided to the explore the Entrepreneurial StrengthsfinderⓇ (ESF) by GallupⓇ. My theory was that the results may remind me of things I’ve forgotten, take for granted or need to develop further.

The ESF identifies ten specific requirements for becoming a successful entrepreneur and assesses the respondent’s level of talent in each area. “Focusing on these talents — along with acquiring knowledge, education, and experience — can lead to the development of entrepreneurial strengths.” The results can be used to promote talents, initiate/develop partnerships, and find ways to turn talents into strengths.

Rating categories

  • Dominant: “You have a high level of this talent. You consistently and naturally lead with this talent to achieve success.”
  • Contributing: “You show some evidence of this talent. You must deliberately apply this talent to achieve success.
  • Supporting: “You do not lead with this talent. You should reinforce this talent with partnerships and support from others to achieve success.”


Dominant talents (in rank order of intensity):

  1. Determination
  2. Confidence
  3. Knowledge-Seeker
  4. Creative Thinker
  5. Relationship-Builder
  6. Promoter
  7. Independent
  8. Risk-Taker
  9. Business Focus

Contributing strength (#10): Delegation.

My thoughts

I’d say the results were spot on. In fact, I can recall my mother saying something about my dogged determination when I was a kid, but I don’t think it was in the glowing sense. Hey look Ma – I found ways to use my powers for good and not evil! (She is likely both proud and relieved…).

Joking aside, my dominant talents have proven essential to every job I’ve ever had, including my success as a non-traditional student and in life. Those dominant talents have served me especially well when resources were scarce, and agile thinking represented the difference between success or failure.


The value of taking such assessments goes beyond a congratulatory results statement to adopting some of the suggestions for professional development.  In my case, I was more interested in what I could do to improve.

Looking back, I can see that my academic work, especially as a non-traditional student, involved a disciplined commitment to myself. There was nobody to delegate to, let alone pick up slack when things got tough. I trusted myself to make it happen, regardless of life’s challenges.

Improvement is good

In my work life, I have consciously stepped away from the habit of thinking as an individual contributor to try to develop a more collaborative role. I can look back on my varied career and remember scads of times when I greatly depended upon others for successful outcomes (e.g., professional musician). I learned a lot of lessons from those experiences and I use that knowledge nearly every day.

Think outside the box…

…no, there is no box.

I enjoy having the ability to see solutions and opportunities in not-so-great situations. I like having a healthy degree of optimism to pair with my analytical abilities. I consider the ability to think entrepreneurially as a gift from my parents and previous generations of my family who modeled such talents in both success and failure. Talent is never enough (Maxwell, 2007) and can only be maximized by a unique way of seeing the world, which is entrepreneurial thinking.

“But what if I’m not going to start my own business…”

So what? Entrepreneurial thinking is not just for entrepreneurs.

Consider your present work environment:

  • How much of what is encountered daily could be solved by entrepreneurial thinking?
  • What challenges have been left unmet due to overly skeptical or risk-averse attitudes?

I’m not suggesting acting foolishly. I am suggesting calculated risks backed by determination, confidence, knowledge, creativity, and business-focused effort. All of these things are fully leveraged through building relationships and promoting others’ skills and independence through delegation and mutual respect.

Action item

Look around. Identify opportunities to enhance your entrepreneurial thinking skills.

Go! Do it now! (and be sure to let me know of your successes).

Next week

Be sure to look for Part 1 of the Entrepreneurial Thinkers series where we will take a look at the talent of determination.

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