The five characteristics of the entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is one of the modern topics not referred to in Jewish thought, although it is possible to find in the Book of Exodus the ten criteria required for any potential start-up. The Bible points out five entrepreneur traits and 5 critical parameters for any venture.Let us discover them together.
Bezalel has neither the reputation of Abraham nor of Noah, but he is the ultimate entrepreneur, thanks to the five attributes described in the story of the construction of the sanctuary (Mishkan) in Parashat Teruma (Exod. 35).
Some 7,000 new entrepreneurs join the Israeli ecosytem every five years. Only 5% of them will actually manage to set up a successful business. What makes the difference between the 5% who succeed and the others? What distinguishes an entrepreneur who may succeed from one who will not succeed might be the ability to solve a real problem in the market.
WAZE’s success on the road was built on the compelling need to prevent traffic jams during rush hour. Slack was born in order to help people deal with the overwhelming amount of information they face every day in the workplace. The more strongly the need is felt, the more prized is the value of the response.
In our context, let’s go back to the largest startup built 3000 years ago. We note that the people of Israel had a strongly-felt need: to connect with the Creator 105 and to find a substitute for worship as it was practiced by all the other nations. That need was so fiercely experienced by them that they went astray and built the Golden Calf (Exod. 32:2).
1. Pragmatic Wisdom: In the sense of problem solving.
2. Intelligence. The ability to listen, to understand in depth.
In the entrepreneurial world, this quality is the key to understanding our target audience according to their needs and habits. It is common knowledge that WHATSAPP did not start out as a system for sending messages but rather as a system for unrecorded phone calls.
But Jan Koum, the company’s founder, developed this solution after listening attentively to his target audience and understanding that they needed something else. Similarly, the Mishkan was eventually to become, in accordance with heeding and understanding the wishes of the people, also a place for bringing spontaneous sacrifices, and not only a place where the Divin Presence dwells (Lev. 1:3).
3. Knowledge: perspective, taking a broad and general view.
Because beyond solving problems and listening to the market, it is essential to see the big picture – that is, to stay away from the enthusiasm of a particular product or service and to ensure that there is a vision and clear 106 horizon for our venture.
Amazon’s vision is, for example, “to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online”. This is far beyond “just” a digital bookstore. As in the Mishkan, “to dwell among the people from within the Sanctuary” (Shemot 25: 8) is a vision that far outweighs the specific response given by one item or another in the Mishkan.
So far, wisdom (Daat), Understanding (Tvuna from the root “Bein”), and problem solving (Chokhma) are qualities that other Biblical figures were blessed with, but Bezalel is the only one to whom the following qualities are also attributed:
4. Creativity: uniqueness and originality.
“Thinking new thoughts” means thinking outside the box. Or in another word: creativity. Creativity in entrepreneurship is expressed, first of all, by added values identified with the product or service. For example, ‘Like’ or ‘Wall’ are functions that are immediately identified with Facebook because this is their one single killer feature, the creative element that sets them apart from the competitors. In the details of the Mishkan, although it took more time to characterize and implement the other elements (such as the cherubs, the Tabernacle curtains, etc.), it was the menorah of all the items that stood out above all the rest.
5. Leadership: the ability to lead people while at the same time developing and guiding them.
There are three main types of leadership – there are leaders such as Moses who manage people and captivate
them. There are leaders such as Aaron the Cohen who specialize in strategy; and there are leaders such as King Solomon who are exceptional at planning and execution. Apple was built on the capabilities of an extraordinary entrepreneur – Steve Jobs. A personality best known for his enthralling personality, his ability to bring people to transcend themselves, and the knowledge to develop his teams and give them the knowledge
Andּ ”ולְ הֹורֹת, נָ תַ ן ּבְ לִ ּבֹו Bezalel of written was It. need they
He has put in his heart that he may teach,” (Exod. 35:34) meaning that this is a leader who was not only a master in planning and execution, and leading the project of building the Mishkan with great success, but he also was blessed with the pedagogical ability to pass on the information that he possessed, while striving for excel-
lence “in every manner of workmanship.”
Entrepreneurship is a central topic in Judaism. Of the ten criteria that appear in the Torah for a successful start-up, five qualities are directly characteristic of the entrepreneur himself: problem solving, listening to the market, dedicated vision, creative characterization, and pedagogic leadership. In the following chapter, we will review the five parameters of the successful venture.