You An Entrepreneur?
Why do small businesses fail?
A shocking number of small business start ups fail! Is there a method or process to ensure that prospective entrepreneurs will be successful? There are a number of good reasons for failure ranging from lack of skills, no viable market and under capitalisation. In this article I want to address failure reasons to do with the entrepreneur him/herself.
How do you know whether you have been cut out to be an entrepreneur? Unfortunately there is no institution that can evaluate and provide a success profile of the ideal entrepreneur. One option is to look at history and see what we can learn from past entrepreneurial successes and failures.
An entrepreneur is an innovator. The product of the innovation is a business. Its uniqueness makes it stand out when compared to other “ordinary” businesses. It captures the attention and imagination of stakeholders. The stakeholders are normally customers, employees, suppliers, investors and lenders.
The big question is: “Do I have what it takes to become an entrepreneur?”. An entrepreneur must have an independent temperament. Entrepreneurs consistently go against the tide. They start companies when others are retrenching; they don’t care about being rejected time and time again; and they trust their gut. Is there a way to measure all of this?
Locus of Control
Some people believe that the results and outcomes in their life are determined by things outside of their control. In other words by fate and independent of their influence, work and decisions. This is called an external locus of control. In Latin locus means place. On the other hand other people believe that the results and outcomes of their life are within their control and determined by their influence, work and decisions. We call this an internal locus of control. The term locus of control was coined by Julian Rotter who did some research on this in the 1950’s. He also developed a questionnaire to measure this in 1966. Locus of control definitively influences entrepreneurial success as evidenced by hundreds if not thousands of research studies performed since the sixties.
An internal locus of control has been one of the psychological characteristics most often used as predictive of entrepreneurship. You believe you have control.
If you want to determine your locus of control profile click on this link http://www.peter-plan.com/locus-of-control/. The link will take you to a zipped file that you can download, unzip and use to easily determine your locus of control. This is a free gift from me and you can use and re-use the quiz indefinitely. After you have completed the quiz return to this article and read the implications of locus of control. (this questionnaire is temporarily not available. I will revise and update this questionnaire in the next two weeks)
What does it all mean?
People with a high internal locus of control have better control of their behaviour, and are more likely to attempt to influence other people than those with a high external locus of control. High internal locus of control people are more likely to assume that their efforts will be successful. They are more active in seeking information and knowledge concerning their situation. The internal – external locus of control represent two ends of a continuum and is not an either or typology, or putting people into two different boxes.
It should not be thought however, that internality is linked exclusively with attribution to effort and externality with attribution to luck. All of us have a certain degree of luck and disaster in life. It is however important how you react to different events.
Many internals have grown up with families that modeled typical internal beliefs. These families emphasized effort, education, responsibility and thinking. Parents typically rewarded children for good performance and achievement.
In contrast, externals are typically associated with lower socioeconomic status. Societies experiencing social unrest increase the expectancy of being out-of-control, so people in such societies become more external.
There is also a down side to an external locus of control. When we overestimate our control in a situation, we may become unnecessarily stressed out and anxious over events we have no power over. We can think and worry about all we want to achieve, but nothing we do can change those circumstances. Focusing on these things will only but drain your energy.
When we underestimate our control in a situation, we may unnecessarily settle for things in our life that we actually have the power to change and improve. So instead of changing the situation for the better, we actually settle for something much less. Clearly, relinquishing our power in such situations decreases our well-being.
Living a more satisfying and happy life is directly dependent on how accurate we assess our locus of control. When we use influence in a situation where we actually have power, we maximize our happiness and well-being in the best possible way, given our circumstances.
Fortunately, Locus of Control is generally considered to be a learned trait rather than an innate personality construct. Your locus of control can be influenced through your life experiences and personal growth…for example by working with a therapist, experiencing the power of life coaching, studying self-improvement material and attending self-awareness workshops.
Benefits of an Internal Locus of Control
In general, people with an internal locus of control:
- Engage in activities that will improve their situation.
- Emphasize striving for achievement.
- Work hard to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities.
- Are inquisitive, and try to figure out why things turned out the way they did.
- Take note of information that they can use to create positive outcomes in the future.
- Identify opportunities because of their perceptual awareness
Do people with an internal locus of control perform better at entrepreneurial activities than people with an external locus of control? Theory suggest that the answer is yes. People who have more internal locus of control form stronger positive beliefs that they can exploit opportunities, obtain resources, organise businesses and develop a strategy than people who have more external locus of control. Because success at an activity depends in part on a person’s willingness to believe in their own ability to undertake that activity, those people with more internal locus of control perform better at entrepreneurial activity.
Assisting a person to move their external locus of control more towards an internal locus of control and helping them to take more responsibility for all aspects of their life is a key aspect of recovering from depression, raising self-esteem and building confidence.
What can you do to shift your locus of control to the internal side?
- Set goals for yourself and note how, by working towards goals and achieving them, you are controlling what happens in your life. As you do this, you’ll find that your self-confidence builds.
- Develop your decision making and problem solving skills so that you can feel more confident and in control of what happens.
- Some of the actions you can follow in improved decision making and problem solving skills are:
- Realise that you always have a choice to change your situation. Even if you don’t like the choices available at the moment, even if the only change you can make is in your attitude, you always have some choices.
- When you feel trapped, make a list of all possible courses of action. Just brainstorm and write things down without evaluating them first.
- You may want to also brainstorm with a friend to get more ideas that you may not have initially considered. Don’t shoot down these ideas right away. Just write them down.
- When you have a list, evaluate each one and decide on the best course of action for you, and keep the others in the back of your mind as alternative options. You may end up with the same answer you had before the brainstorming session, but this exercise can open your eyes to the amount of choices you have in a given situation. Seeing new possibilities will become more of a habit.
- Repeat this practice when you feel trapped in frustrating situations in your life. In more casual, everyday situations, you can still expand your mind to new possibilities by doing this quickly and mentally
Your self-talk is important
You live with an ever-present companion—you! You spend more time with yourself than with anyone else. As a consequence, you have more influence over yourself and more ability to create your future than anyone else. This internal companion is you talking to you, inside your mind. You are the creator of your internal environment. You guide yourself, criticise yourself, give to or withhold from yourself, belittle or support yourself. You can either support an internal or external locus of control through self talk. Psychologists call self-talk that is soothing and brings you back to balance “compassionate self-talk” and “the language of self-support”.
Talking to yourself compassionately can be learned. The key is self nurturing. Imagine how a good friend would talk to you and then talk to yourself that way. Be patient to yourself it could take a long time to develop positive self empowering talk.
Finally, quit making excuses and start asking yourself, “What can I do to change this situation?” Tell yourself that success is up to you. Tell yourself that you can’t expect others to be responsible, that you must take the initiative to change your life and achieve what you desire.
Who pull the strings in your life?
- Scott, Andrew Shane. 2003 A general theory of entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Develop an internal locus of control. Retrieved from http://stress.about.com/od/psychologicalconditions/ht/locus.htm
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