Read highlights from the Can Do Collective gathering on 11 May 2021, in conversation with internationally renowned author, speaker and enterprise facilitator, Dr. Ernesto Sirolli.
‘Entrepreneurs are made in bedrooms, not boardrooms,’ so says Dr Ernest Sirolli, the passionate founder of The Sirolli Institute, an organisation focused on finding and growing entrepreneurs from within their own communities.
‘If you go looking for entrepreneurs in your communities, you will find them. And you can teach them.’
Dr Sirolli was speaking to the Can Do Collective, a community of like-minded leaders and organisations working together to enable entrepreneurs of all kinds to flourish.
Dr Sirolli spoke passionately about his experience that successful entrepreneurs are not solely found in prestigious universities across the world. He sees this as a societal challenge we have to overcome.
He states that entrepreneurial support should be treated as a social justice issue. That everyone should have the chance to access support and services dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs of the future. He firmly believes funding should be more widely accessible, allocated to those at the heart of the community, available for local initiatives with potential.
Together the Can Do Partners considered the future of entrepreneurship and the verdict was pretty much unanimous, that properly educating Scotland’s young people in the art and science of entrepreneurship, was vital. Partners also agreed that mentoring and role modelling was key to creating a successful entrepreneurial society. Showing others the way – showing that entrepreneurs were not just found at the top universities but rather could be found in the heart of their communities.
Dr Sirolli agreed, saying that his Institute had worked with teenagers helping them to understand the entrepreneurial skills they already possessed. He acknowledged that not all students were entrepreneurs, which was fine. He shared his experience working with a group of teenagers exploring an entrepreneurial challenge.
The teenagers quickly realised they didn’t possess all the skills needed to launch and run a successful business, but they found other students within the programme who did. Dr Sirolli shared that there are three management skills needed to run a sustainable, entrepreneurial business – Product, Marketing and Finance. He demonstrated that by encouraging each of the students to work within the same skill-set groups to begin with, growing their knowledge and confidence, they were more impactful when they re-joined their skill counterparts to actually run their businesses.
Dr Sirolli then shared his view that humans have always had the capacity to be entrepreneurs. That certain individuals have the capacity to see something first and take advantage of it.
‘In fact,’ he says. ‘It was probably an entrepreneur that got us out of the caves.’
He likens this to human spirit. The passion that some individuals have to see a different future.
And he doesn’t agree that elite competitions are best placed to encourage true entrepreneurialism. ‘With competitions, we are creating eagles’ nests on top of the tallest trees, on the tallest mountains. It is unattainable for the majority. Even Steve Jobs would not have been able to enter these competitions today. We have to strive to create an environment that allows the maximum number of people to play the game. There should be no limit.’ In fact he illustrates this.
‘In the countries we have supported, every time we come into a village looking for entrepreneurial spirit, we have found it. And you should do the same. It’s up to us to find the best of the best of passionate people in our communities looking to transform their lives. It’s all on us.’
He closed by saying that in order to build a sustainable, entrepreneurial society one has to ensure a strong root system. He compared entrepreneurism to a forest. With a strong root system, a forest thrives and continues to grow naturally year after year, century after century. It doesn’t need artificial intervention.
The community is the forest.