Thinking like an entrepreneur is something we may all have to do

Originally featured on Fresh Business Thinking.


“Our philosophy is that the future of work is about thinking like an entrepreneur, says Lucy-Rose Walker, Chief Entrepreneuring Officer at Entrepreneurial Spark, and a judge at this year’s NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards. It seems that in a world that is constantly being disrupted by the next wave of technology, people will need a different way of thinking.  

“When you are 20-years-old,” says Lucy-Rose “you have a 50 per cent change of living until you are 95, so the era of having an education, retiring at 65, and then putting your feet up is over. For the younger generation, when they get to that age they will have 30 years to go. You need to think about this multi-stage life and how you are going to have to upskill yourself throughout your career.”

Entrepreneurial Spark, is the world’s largest free people accelerator – and a big part of its ethos is putting entrepreneurs together, as was told here recently, rub them together and you get sparks.

Lucy-Rose reckons, however, that in the world that is emerging, having an entrepreneurial mindset won’t just be an approach or skill you need lucy_rosewalkerto set up a business. She explains: “you need to be agile, adaptable, to deal with change, and be flexible, which is the kind of thing entrepreneurs do every day, so if you can embrace that mindset, you have set yourself up quite well for the future.”

Up until a few years ago, “you went to school, got an education, then you went to university, then you got a job, it was all focused on getting a job, whereas now, entrepreneurship has weaved itself into primary schools, secondary schools, higher education and now it is expected that you come out of education and run your own business and be an entrepreneur.”

She adds: “The future of work is thinking and acting like an entrepreneur.”

The kids, the millennial generation, and the generation to follow, the so-called generation Z, get this.  “The only jobs that will be secure are nursing, caring, counseling etcetera, but it is the parents who are saying you must be a lawyer or a doctor, who are struggling with the changes, the younger people are actually okay with this, they have a better feel for what is going on.  The younger generation are now much more open to entrepreneurship, but it is the parents who are driving older fashioned behaviour.”

As part of this, she sees a change in how we view ownership. “I think we are moving into a very transitional world. People won’t own houses or own other assets, so I think we are going to see a big change in ownership, which the millennial generation is more comfortable with.  There used to be a sense that you would grow up, get married, but it is acceptable not to do any of those things.  This is having a liberating effect.”  And this change is helping to create this more entrepreneurial way of thinking.

This entrepreneurial mindset is one that large companies are trying to adopt too. “This is why many companies are sponsoring co-working spaces and accelerators, this is why some large companies, with head offices based overseas, are using co-working centres as a regional centre.

“It’s one route for companies concerned about disruptive technology, co-working may be the solution.”

And what about government, what can it do? “I think we do a good job in primary school in entrepreneurship, but it gets bashed out of people at secondary school. It seems to me that 50 per cent of our universities are in the dark ages, so archaic, so academic and not real world based. And absolutely not preparing people for the future.”

She is quick to point out that not all are like that, but she asks, “why isn’t entrepreneurship taught in some form, why do you have to learn French or German? This baffles me.”

She cites as an example of a school that is doing it right, one that is based in Fife, Scotland “where they teach Mandarin.” She suggests that “more is needed to embrace that kind of thinking.”

But then again, the younger generation probably do get that, the world has changed, the younger generation are on the case, the parents and maybe their teachers are only just beginning to cotton on.