Entrepreneurial Learning

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
— Thomas Edison

An entrepreneur is a leader who is willing to take a risk and exercise initiative. An entrepreneur plans, organizes, and employs resources to exploit an opportunity, and often innovates or improves a product.

Entrepreneurial learning is not necessarily about creating entrepreneurs. It is about assessing and putting together skills in order to build a life. You can't be passive and wait to be told what to do. You must go find out how to do it. Make things. Learn by failing. Experience, reflect, think, and act.

Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work made some great points on Episode 463 of The Art of Charm podcast.


"Your calling is the thing that you can’t not do. Everybody has a calling. You don’t plan it. You can prepare for it and do the most to respond when the opportunities present themselves. Your calling is not just one thing, it’s many things. It’s your body of work and the accumulation of all the things you do, it’s a portfolio. You’ve got skills, you’ve got gifts, you’ve got things you can do, and you’ve got burdens. You need to do something with it. Your portfolio is your curating those things you’re good at, your passions, your skills, the things you can use to help other people. It doesn’t have to be one thing, some big epiphany. You can take intentional actions that move you closer to your purpose, that thing that you do that adds value to the world and makes you come alive."


"I think of failure as pivot points. Most people think of failure as the end, like a period, not a comma, the thing that prevents you from success. I think failure actually leads you to success, it is an opportunity to pivot. You learn from failure and use it as an opportunity to course correct and point what you’re doing at a different end. After most failures you usually don’t turn around and go back to the beginning and start completely over from scratch. Typically they are pivot points where you adjust your course to the left or right and find a way to get around the obstacle.  The obstacle changes the path and you end up somewhere that you never would have imagined that ultimately ends up being better, to get to a place that we didn’t have the vision to see when we started."


"No one lives an easy life and becomes great. To become great at any skill and be in the arena is a painful process. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. The amount of time is just one part of it. Another part is that you have to do the activity to the point of exhaustion, to the point where you can’t go on. That’s how you become great. You do it as hard as you can for 10,000 hours. 'Trying' is something else, it’s not painful. When I was in sixth grade I tried to play the saxophone and I quit because it’s hard. I thought it was boring and I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t interested in pushing past the pain. Your calling is not always going to be easy, but it’s important to push that that discomfort."


"Listen to the insightful people around that can help guide you, who say “Here is what I see you doing…” Have the discipline to listen. Look at your life and the themes that emerge. What have you always been good at? What do you have experience doing? As Derek Sivvers said, 'What is obvious to you is amazing to others.' When you’re trying to figure out what your calling is and what the next big step is in your life, when you feel like you have something more to offer, the first step is to listen to your life. Ask the question 'Who am I? What have I always been, and what does that mean about who I am becoming?' It’s not that the past dictates your future, but it should inform it."

"You become who you hang out with."

"It’s not who you know, it’s who you help that defines your trajectory to greatness."


The Man and Lau model organizes entrepreneurial competencies into six dimensions:

  1. opportunity (ability to identify and exploit new opportunities)
  2. relationship (ability to build, maintain, and grow social networks)
  3. conceptual (ability to think conceptually about what it is to be an entrepreneur)
  4. organizing (ability to effectively manage various financial, human, technological, material, etc. resources)
  5. strategic (ability to identify, plan, and implement goals)
  6. commitment (capacity for affective and cognitive mobilization to move forward even in the face of challenges). 

—Man TWY, Lau T. Entrepreneurial competencies of SME owner/managers in the Hong Kong services sector. Journal of Enterprising Culture, 2000; 8(3):235-254. 

Self-regulation, or the ability to monitor, evaluate, and provide feedback on personal actions through self-reinforcement and emotional self-control to redirect actions toward achieving goals is important in order to have the personal control of your environment and to perform successfully.  It is important to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior in order to perceive where your weaknesses are and where you need to develop.