Originally found on: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/03/21/five-ways-tech-entrepreneurs-are-like-teachers/#13018ca85d43
What words come to mind when you think about teachers? Imaginative; innovative; risk taker; lifelong learner? Now think about a technology entrepreneur. Might some of the same descriptions apply? Like entrepreneurs, great teachers dream up engaging activities to hook their students, adopt new and untested approaches in their classrooms every day, and constantly strive to learn more about their disciplines.
While technology entrepreneurs and teachers may seem drastically different at first glance, research shows that people who gravitate toward these two fields have many traits naturally in common. To me, this suggests that founders of tech startups can easily adopt a teaching mentality to push their tech teams forward. Here are five ways that I see tech entrepreneurs as a lot like teachers, and what technology entrepreneurs can learn from this similarity.
They’re Knowledge Seeking
It goes without saying that those who enjoy teaching have a love of knowledge and are lifelong learners. This quality also fits tech entrepreneurs. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology by Hao Zhao and Scott E. Seibert revealed that one of the “big five” personality dimensions of entrepreneurs is openness to experience, which the researchers describe as intellectual curiosity and a tendency to seek new experiences and ideas. The study showed that other aspects of this entrepreneurial personality type include creativity, innovation and imaginativeness.
While this is true of entrepreneurs in any industry, tech entrepreneurs in particular self-identify with a constantly curious mindset where it’s necessary to “outlearn everyone when it comes to your business,” as tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban said in Entrepreneur. Any tech leader can cultivate this instinct to be knowledge-hungry, and can use that quality to help push their tech department to new heights by pursuing emerging strategies and advances in technology that will give their company a competitive edge.
They’re Motivated By Passion
Educators are notoriously underpaid. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that public school teachers in the United States make 67% of what other U.S. workers with similar education levels make. Yet despite the relatively low salary, many teachers are passionate about their work and use that passion as a motivator. A survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) union found that 80% of newly qualified teachers went into teaching based on a love of working with students, and 75% joined the profession because of a desire to make a difference.
While we often think of the most financially successful startups when we envision tech entrepreneurs, the truth is that these dreamers go into the game without knowing whether their venture will make them rich or broke. Like teachers, tech executives generally enter their field to help people solve problems, not primarily to make money. With this in mind, tech entrepreneurs can draw on their passion for their work first to recruit talent as passionate as they are, and then to motivate their team to new heights.