The Language of Successful Entrepreneurs: An Empirical Starting Point for the Entrepreneurial Mindset
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Original versionProceedings of the European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE. 2017, 384-391.
The concept of entrepreneurial mindset is growing in popularity within the field of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial mindset orients humans' behaviour towards entrepreneurial activities and outcomes. The concept lacks empirical support due to methodological difficulties in discovering how entrepreneurs think. This article aims to address this by examining the language successful entrepreneurs use in an attempt to find evidence of an expert entrepreneurial mindset. Language represents the way people think and what they think about. This paper examines interviews of 51 high-tech entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley who have successfully started companies and attracted between $20 million and $1 billion in start-up funding and have a minimum of 30 employees. The study analyses the linguistic content of what the successful entrepreneurs talk about during interviews by comparing it to a control group of spoken text from average entrepreneurs. This reveals a number of differences in the way language is used between the two groups. We find evidence supporting the presence of several orientations - action, future, customer, collective, and growth - associated with a mindset of successful entrepreneurs. We also contribute to the existing call of using new methodological approaches to study the entrepreneurship paradigm. We outline new avenues for further research into the entrepreneurial mindset.