How Extension Can Think Like an Entrepreneur

This blog post was written by Alice Henneman and Joanne Kinsey. Alice Henneman, MS, RDN is an Extension Educator in Nebraska. Among her job responsibilities, she co-ordinates and contributes to the largest Extension website, in Nebraska. She geeks out on social media. In taking the Entrepreneurial Profile quiz mentioned in this article. Her top four “talents” are: Independence, disruptor, knowledge and delegator.  Joanne Kinsey, MS, CWWS is an Extension Educator/Associate Professor at Rutgers Cooperative Extension in New Jersey. She developed the Workforce Wellness component of the Get Moving Get Healthy NJ initiative, that reaches out to employers to assist them in their efforts to bring wellness programs to their employees. Her favorite traits are being creative, and a relationship-builder.

Why connect the words “Extension” and “Entrepreneur” in the same sentence?

Franz and Cox Journal of Extension, 2012) aptly express the “why” in their article, “Extension’s Future: Time for Disruptive Innovation”:

Pockets of individuals and teams across the nation have worked independently as entrepreneurs to enhance Extension’s relevance by introducing organizational processes and programs that greatly differ from past practices. However, every Extension system, team, and worker has a role to play in the disruptive innovation process.


What would happen if Extension became more entrepreneurial? Results might include:

  • New methods of funding
  • Reaching a new and more diverse customer base and new collaborative partners
  • Innovative ways of reaching out to clientele, in ways that enhance their interest and participation in Extension programming
  • Building a more diverse Extension workforce

10 Talents of Entrepreneurs

Gallup, an American research-based, global performance-management consulting company,  studied 2,500 entrepreneurs to better understand the types of actions and decisions that lead to venture creation and growth. After several years and hundreds of interviews, they consistently identified 10 specific talents in highly successful entrepreneurs.

Reading Gallup’s description of the 10 specific talents provides insight into your own entrepreneurial traits. Click on each talent to read a more complete description of the talent.

If you want to dive still deeper into learning a.bout your own entrepreneurial profile, take the 30-minute online “Entrepreneurial Profile 10TM  assessment. The cost is $12. 00.  The profile assessment identifies your top four entrepreneurial traits with descriptions and action items and includes this information for the remaining six traits, as well as your distinct entrepreneurial style.

The traits, some of which are labeled with slightly different wording in your profile printout, are:

Using Your Entrepreneurial Talents

According to Gallup, innate abilities will make certain talents easier for some people than for others. Nicos Nicolaou, Cass Business School, City University London, and Scott Shane, Case Western Reserve University, found the tendency toward entrepreneurship may range between 37% and 48% genetic.

In seeking to work more entrepreneurially, you will be more successful by embracing and working on those entrepreneurial traits and behaviors that come most easily to you. Gallup suggests you concentrate most on what you feel are your top four traits; however, using some mix of all the traits will be helpful. During their research, they found a variety of the ten behaviors among successful entrepreneurs. Including others on a team that have different traits may enhance the success of your team.

Is Extension taking a risk it if it thinks like an entrepreneur? Consider this quote from Mark Zuckerberg, founder of FaceBook and one of the most recognized entrepreneurs on the planet, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk … In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

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