Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Dr. Patricia McDougall-Covin, Professor of Entrepreneurship at
Indiana University, as she addressed participants gathered for the
start of a two-day JOBS Faculty Symposium hosted by the Cave Hill
School of Business last week Wednesday.
 ENTREPRENEURS do not have a common profile that automatically makes them candidates for success. While there may be certain characteris-tics that are common amongst those who make it to the top, entrepreneurs, like their pursuits, are diverse and varied.

This was the message sent by Dr. Patricia McDougall-Covin, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Indiana University, as she addressed participants gathered for the start of a two-day JOBS Faculty Symposium hosted by the Cave Hill School of Business last week Wednesday. The Job Opportunities for Business Scale-up (JOBS) programme was co-ordinated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)/Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and Indiana University was selected to partner with the business school under JOBS, to strengthen its Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and, by extension, cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in the region.

While speaking on the topic, “Fostering Innovation and the Entrepreneurial Mind-set”, Dr. McDougall-Covin noted that there are certain myths surrounding entrepreneurship and the view that entrepreneurs have a certain profile is one such myth. She noted that much research has been carried out to find such a profile, but with limited success.

The Professor noted that another myth suggests that all one needs is luck to be a successful entrepreneur. This is far from the truth, she argued, noting that if this was indeed the case, persons could choose their “lucky symbol” and set out as entrepreneurs, with a view to success.

Some of those in attendance at the event.
Another myth is that “all you need is money”. However, the professor made it clear that having money alone does not equate to success, since there are many wealthy entertainers and athletes for example, who have tried their hands at entrepreneurial ventures and failed. The idea that “entrepreneurs are gamblers and high risk takers” does not always hold true either, since research suggests that entrepreneurs must be able to manage risk and many of them are also investors.

Dr. McDougall-Covin pointed to a number of individuals who did not have ideal lives, but who capitalised on opportunities and followed their passion to create competitive businesses that have grown by leaps and bounds. And while there is no common profile to define them, Dr. McDougall-Covin listed a number of characteristics that do define successful entrepreneurs.

She noted that such individuals are passionate, have basic intelligence, are high energy people, are goal-oriented, see the big picture and have a tolerance for risk and ambiguity. They also seek feedback, learn from failure and seek opportunities at every turn.

Dr. McDougall-Covin stressed, however, that while it may be argued that “entrepreneurs are born, not made”, business schools can play a role in cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset by having entrepreneurial programmes for students, which can teach them about pitfalls in business as well as paths to progress.  (RSM)

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