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A breed apart: entrepreneurs have their own set of beliefs & values.

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT PEOPLE WHO RUN THEIR own businesses have a unique belief system and attitudes. Business and government should take note of the findings and consider the implications -- particularly now, at a time when people are being encouraged to start their own company.

Dr. Don Schaeffer, a Winnipeg-based testing psychologist -- a rare breed in Canada -- develops professional psychological tests to help organizations select and counsel employees.

He recently developed and validated a test to assess the values and beliefs usually characteristic of people who own their own business or generate their own income. His results showed clear differences between independent enterprisers, business executives from medium and large companies and people not in business.

Among the many findings, Schaeffer found the enterprisers were noticeably different from the other two groups in their ability to tolerate a fluctuating income. Many people just can't cope with the roller coaster cash flow endemic to owner-operator business.

Enterprisers were also found to be more independent, and preferred freedom at work -- much more so than the executives and non-business samples.

Dr. Schaeffer's studies and others suggest that people's belief systems or attitudes are a major determinant of their attraction to and success in independent business. It's clearly not everyone's cup of tea. Many are just not suited to it.

The research suggests that if a business executive tries to move out of a corporate nest and start up his or her own business, success is slim unless significant attitudinal changes also occur. For example, some executives see "sales" as a low status activity, unaware that when they're on their own, sales effort is paramount.

Some large corporations want to encourage in-house entrepreneurs and managers to operate their turf as if it were their own business. But people who are successful in this role may not be suited for the corporation's executive ranks, limiting their opportunity for advancement. Some current federal government initiatives to entice the unemployed to become entrepreneurs may also be off base since these studies suggest that unemployed managers, executives and non-management employees, typically laid off from large businesses, are neither suited nor attracted to personal enterprise.

Independent business or a home-based business -- working out of the basement or kitchen -- is not for everyone. Many people still need and value their role as employees and contribute best to the economy in that capacity. Instead of counselling dozens of unemployed workers to strike out on their own to build and market the better mouse trap, maybe we should put them all in one large room and show them how to form one large business.

Robert Kent, PhD, is president of a Winnipeg-based international management consulting firm.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Manitoba Business Ltd.
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Author:Kent, Robert H.
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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