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Looking for an oxymoron

It may be tough to find a professional entrepreneur, but it's not impossible. Tania Gooptu writes.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2011 23:57 IST
Tania Gooptu

For the last 15 years, my job has been to assess talent. But even after all these years, I remain utterly fascinated by the business of leadership talent-spotting. In the meantime, I have seen the arrival of a new tribe: professional entrepreneurs (PEs). Don't be confused by the endearing oxymoron.

While hunting for new talent is a large part of any business, there are sufficient cases of emerging businesses successfully growing by retaining key talent. But what is 'key talent'? For emerging businesses, that's exactly what the PEs provide when they come out and play.

The dictionary defines 'professional' as: 'Of or pertaining to a profession, or calling; conforming to the rules or standards of a profession; following a profession; as, professional knowledge; professional conduct,' or, 'Engaged in by professionals; as, a professional race; - opposed to amateur'; or 'A person who prosecutes anything professionally, or for a livelihood, and not in the character of an amateur; a professional worker.'

The dictionary also defines 'entrepreneur' as: 'A person who organises, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.'

Now when you take the abilities of the professional and combine it with the complexity of the entrepreneur, chances are you'll get your desired professional entrepreneur. God knows, you need a lot of luck and research techniques to identify a PE before you try and nab him.

So how do you spot a PE? Keep in mind these basic parameters and you may just catch one. First, the 'professional' characteristics in a PE:

He demonstrates a high order of functional and technical expertise and backs it up with an exhaustive list of achievements.

He displays high standards of professional ethics and behaviour while carrying out his duties towards enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc

He has client interest and insight in mind at all times.

Second, the 'entrepreneur' qualities in a PE:

He leads the firm or organisation from the front and demonstrates leadership qualities (powered by high emotional intelligence).

He excels in opportunity recognition and exploration. He is characteristically inclined towards innovations, new technologies, increasing efficiency, productivity, or generating new products or services.

If you have identified the person with a combination of the 'P' and 'E' qualities stated above to lead an emerging business, you hopefully won't have to do another Google search on 'how to retain key talent'. You may have just found your man for the job.

(Tania Gooptu is partner, Aventus Partners, a Delhi-based human capital solutions firm. The views expressed by the author are personal.)