What Does Entrepreneurial Spirit Mean to You?

The definition of an Entrepreneur is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “an individual who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” So characteristically, anyone who has an idea, and is willing to act upon it with the chance of obtaining funding and capital in order to sustain oneself for an indefinite period of time can fall under this definition.

Historically, the word Entrepreneur has been used to refer to businessmen of any kind since the beginning of the Georgian era in England, whereby the first recorded use of the word appeared in a translation of Frederick William the IV; the King of Prussia’s manuscript to his ranking officers, instructing them to seek the guidance of an entrepreneur in the event of food shortages.

Nowadays in the modern business world, the term entrepreneur has taken on the meaning of more than just a mere businessman or venture capitalist; it now connotates the attitude of having an ambitious dream, being innovative and wanting taking the necessary steps to implement it in the form of a business entity or start-up.

This explains why in the 21st century business world, the phrase entrepreneurial spirit was coined and started being used regularly. Entrepreneurial spirit refers an attitude or mindset, as opposed to being labelled as a company owner or used to describe any influential or founding position within a company.

In order to answer the initial question, we have to address the mindset or mentality of an entrepreneur. This means not only counting the successes of a company, but also looking at the failures and seeing how they can be resolved and circumvented in future.

Let’s say, Mary has an idea for a company selling single-use biodegradable straws; she pitches her idea in an investor meeting, successfully demonstrating proof of concept and is given some funding. She creates the first mock-ups and holds a product testing group. The straws are given awful feedback: people don’t like that they become soggy after a few sips and start to disintegrate into the drink. What will she do with the investor funding? Better to come clean, admit defeat and explain to the investors that there was an oversight with her material of choice.


Characteristically speaking, Mary is an entrepreneur. But does she have entrepreneurial spirit?

Someone with true entrepreneurial spirit would never give up on their dream of providing the world with a non-toxic, environmentally friendly version of the classic plastic straw. There are many non-toxic, natural resources that can be used, not only paper. How can the material be fortified? Maybe to research the biodegradability of coconut fiber and the natural properties of bamboo. How to source these materials so they are still within budget?

This is one example of how different mindsets can change the outcome of any new project or business venture. Perhaps Mary’s company is doomed from the beginning, using coconut fiber will be too expensive and doesn’t break down as quickly as paper and unfortunately, her company will never take off. This is common (Statistics show that each year 30,000 new start-ups are launched in Portugal, with less than 50% of the start-ups still operating after the third year).

Mary may no longer be our classic definition of an entrepreneur. However, when she was backpacking in Thailand, visiting coconut plantations, enquiring about the bi-products of coconut milk and exploring how to cheaply source raw materials for her straws, she had entrepreneurial spirit: the mindset that only after all alternative solutions have been exhausted, an outcome can be decided.

To conclude, having entrepreneurial spirit isn’t only about establishing and running a profitable company. It’s about having a dream and a relentless can-do attitude, even in the face of hardship. If Mary’s story didn’t elucidate sufficiently, a quote from US Commander George Armstrong Custer sums it up nicely: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.”

What does entrepreneurial spirit mean to you? Let us know in the comments section below!