Ask ten people to describe the characteristics of an entrepreneur and you’ll probably end up with at least ten different answers. Apart from perhaps the stereotypical response of “someone driven by money”, which is actually not true. Quite suprisingly, most of the venture capitalists and seasoned entrepreneurs that I have posed this question to over the years seem to think that entrepreneurs are a special breed of people, more akin to mongrels whose makeup can’t be easily identified. The thought of trying to sort these animals into different sub species seems by many to be an absolute waste of time. Even academic researchers initially found the task problematic when they first embarked on this exercise back in late 70′s. One academic attempted to define the entrepreneur by using the analogy of Winnie the Pooh’s favourite animal the Heffalump, which “comes in every shape and size and colour”.

“The entrepreneurial Heffalump is a variegated sort of animal, which appears in different habitats and in different forms. It also appears to have undergone some evolutionary changes or mutations since the first reports of its existence were made public by Heffalump hunters in the past. So it is not surprising that there is disagreement about the nature of the beast”[1].

Fortunately things have moved on for Heffalump hunters and academic researchers alike, who are now in a much better position to define the characteristics of entrepreneurs in their various forms.

[1] Wilken, P. (1979) Entrepreneurship: A Comparative and Historical Study. Ablex Publishing