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Before entrepreneurs take startup plunge, better to know thyself

What is your "entrepreneurial mind-set"?

Now there's a practical way to find out.

A group of leadership training and psychology professors at St. Petersburg's Eckerd College have come up with a tool to help individuals and business groups assess their entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses.

The benefit? To better know thyself and, in the process, become a sharper entrepreneur.

The Eckerd team could not find an assessment tool for entrepreneurs it considered comprehensive, helpful and "psychometrically" valid. So it developed one. It took three years. A year ago, the professors introduced their assessment tool, called the "Entrepreneurial Dimensions Profile" or EDP. Anyone can take the assessment online in about 15 minutes for a $45 fee.)

"My colleagues and I originally developed the EDP based on the belief that in order for corporate leaders to drive growth and innovation, an entrepreneurial mind-set would be helpful," says Dr. Jennifer Hall, a 20-year Eckerd College veteran, licensed psychologist and director of coaching and feedback at the Leadership Development Institute. The institute is a revenue-producing arm of Eckerd that provides executive coaching and works widely with businesses. Local examples include Raymond James Financial, Tech Data Corp. and Bloomin' Brands.

Hall says her team realized that the EDP could also be helpful to actual and aspiring entrepreneurs, including university students studying entrepreneurship. (Eckerd may use the EDP to assess all of its students in the coming years.)

That part of Hall's work caught the attention of Rebecca White at the University of Tampa. White directs UT's Entrepreneurship Center and is a major player in the emerging business startup culture in this region.

White says she is just starting to assess UT students before and after taking entrepreneur program classes to see the impact of course work on a variety of behaviors and skills.

"This is, of course, not a test for students but a way for them to gain better self-awareness, which we believe is very important in entrepreneurship," White says. Her UT program looked at several assessments and liked the EDP because it focused specifically on entrepreneurship. UT is in "test mode" at this point, White says, praising the Eckerd assessment tool for being easy to take and having no right or wrong answers.

"The next step, after the test, is the most important — how the entrepreneur takes action on what he or she learned from the assessment."

The assessment has little to do with your specific business skills. But it has everything to do with measuring your personal preferences for things like working independently, working with or without structure, risk tolerance, how action-oriented you are, your level of passion in work and your desire to achieve at a high level.

The assessment also helps measure whether you tend to be a short- or long-term thinker, an idea generator, someone who is self-confident or a doubter, optimistic or otherwise, persistent or prone to give up on tasks, and how sensitive you are to co-workers' well-being.

The assessment, based on 72 questions taken online, is not meant to tell you whether you are or are not an entrepreneur. Instead, it tries to capture relative strengths and weaknesses, and compare them against typical norms for people who say they are entrepreneurs and folks who work in more traditional corporate workplaces.

Armed with such a profile, a potential entrepreneur would better understand what he or she is best and worst at, how to work on improving any weaknesses and even how to look for co-workers whose strengths best complement his or her skills.

It's a leap of faith and test of strength to start a business. If this assessment tool can improve the odds for entrepreneurs, that's a huge step forward.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at rtrigaux@tampabay.com.

>>your profile

Gauging your potential

as an entrepreneur

A 72-question profile helps assess your entrepreneurial mind-set. Responses are chosen from a five-point spectrum of how well each question best or least describes you. Here are five sample questions. Details are at edpmindset.com. An assessment costs $45.

1. I pride myself on doing things differently from the crowd.

2. I do not give up easily.

3. People describe me as easy to work with.

4. Others might describe me as a pessimistic person.

5. I'm willing to take a certain amount of risk to achieve real success.

Source: Entrepreneurial Dimensions Profile, Eckerd College Leadership Development Institute

.NEW BUSINESSES

Behind the boom in Tampa Bay

Ever wonder why Tampa Bay's boom in entrepreneurial activity — from the rise of business incubators to the burst of area university programs for starting a business — seemed to take off in the past five years? One big reason was that the massive job cuts and recession encouraged many (and forced others) considering whether to start their own business to do so.

Now comes a new report that says the number of new businesses being formed in the United States is steadily declining. The trend sounds bad for the U.S. economy. But it may also reflect the improving job prospects in corporate America and the easing pressure on people out of work or unhappy with their employment to become "necessity entrepreneurs."

Nationwide, about 476,000 new U.S. businesses started up each month in 2013. That's a decline of 7 percent from 2012 and 12 percent from 2011. So says a study released this past week by the prestigious Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo., advocacy group for entrepreneurship.

The Kauffman study found that the rate of business creation in Florida also fell steadily from a recent high in 2009 (at the worst of the recession), with 440 out of 100,000 adults creating businesses each month, to 340 out of 100,000 in 2013.

Still, only seven states topped Florida last year with higher business startup activity. And the pace of startups in the Sunshine State remains higher on average than the nation as a whole.

What explains that difference? Florida suffered massive job losses during the recession, so perhaps more people here still feel compelled to start a business for lack of other opportunities. Perhaps the high volume of retirees here is a factor as more seniors feel financially strapped and start businesses to supplement struggling incomes.

Or maybe folks here are simply more inclined to start a business.

Robert Trigaux

. your profile

Gauging entrepreneurial potential

A 72-question profile helps assess your entrepreneurial mindset. Responses are chosen from a 5-point spectrum of how well each question best or least describes you. Here are five sample questions. Details at http://edpmindset.com/. An assessment costs $45.

1. I pride myself on doing things differently from the crowd.

2. I do not give up easily.

3. People describe me as easy to work with.

4. Others might describe me as a pessimistic person.

5. I'm willing to take a certain amount of risk to achieve real success.

Source: Entrepreneurial Dimensions Profile, Eckerd College Leadership Development Institute

Before entrepreneurs take startup plunge, better to know thyself 04/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2014 5:31pm]
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