Entrepreneurs are the real change agents in our society. They create opportunities for everyone. Entrepreneurship is hard business. We should celebrate and support all the brave men and women who jump off the cliff to build new ventures. These dreamers are the reason we enjoy the so many comforts life has to offer.
It is entrepreneurs who recognise opportunities where others see chaos or confusion. They are the aggressive catalysts for change within the marketplace. They are the athletes challenging themselves to break new barriers, marathon runners dealing with the agony of the last few kilometres, the symphony orchestra conductors bringing together different skills and sounds into a cohesive whole, and the top-gun pilots continually pushing the envelope of speed and daring.
The entrepreneur is someone who undertakes to organise, manage and assume the risks of a business. The deﬁnition is broadened so that today an entrepreneur is considered to be a social or business innovator or developer who recognises and seizes opportunities; converts those opportunities into workable/marketable ideas; adds value through time, effort, money or skills; assumes the risks of the competitive marketplace to implement these ideas; and realises the rewards from those efforts.
Entrepreneurship is a dynamic process of vision, change and creation. It requires an application of energy and passion towards the creation and implementation of new value-adding ideas and creative solutions. Essential ingredients include the willingness to take calculated risks in termsof time, equity or career; the ability to formulate an effective venture team; the creative skill to marshal needed resources; and, ﬁnally, the vision to recognise opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction and confusion.
Entrepreneurship, or the enterprising spirit, is actually central to our very concept of freedom. Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, argues that economic activity is the objective and the primary means of enhancing human freedom: ‘The usefulness of wealth lies in the things that it allows us to do – the substantive freedoms it helps us to achieve’. For Sen, the highest expression of freedom is the ability to choose what kind of life one wants to lead, to be the sole proprietor of one’s own destiny. Individuals must be free to choose their own accounts of the good life. That freedom resides in such things as the right to participate in market exchange itself. If economic development is freedom, then so too is entrepreneurship. Indeed, to conceive an idea, to give that idea life by making it into an enterprise, and then to have that enterprise yield beneﬁt for oneself and others is a distinctive type of freedom. Entrepreneurship is a mode of self-actualisation. As President Obama once said, ‘Entrepreneurship offers a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division that can alltoo often ﬁll the void when young people don’t see a future for themselves
Entrepreneurship is akin to the dream and will to found a private kingdom; … the will to conquer; the impulse to ﬁght, to prove oneself superior to others, to succeed for the sake, not of the fruits of success, but of success itself; … the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one’s energy and ingenuity …
Entrepreneurs are men and women who control their own destiny, who do not want to be a wage-slave to another, and are called sovereign individuals. This notion is central to classical liberalism and individualistic political philosophies. As John Locke wrote in his Two Treatises on Government, ‘every man has a Property in his own Person’. The individual ‘has a right to decide what would become of himself and what he would do, and as having a right to reap the beneﬁts of what he did’
Experiencing business, no matter what its form, is part of learning the tools of the trade. We trust that some small self-employment ventures will push through the growth barrier while for others they will be a stepping stone to something more ambitious. Others may ﬁnd that ‘small is all’ and that the experience leaves them with no desire to manage a larger venture. Yet still others may ﬁnd that entrepreneurship speciﬁcally and business generally is not for them. It is also expected that some will have a desire to work with or to support entrepreneurial companies in consultancy, technology commercialisation, ﬁnancing, regional development and policy areas. There is more to entrepreneurship and innovation than being the high-ﬂying, risk-defying entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are optimistic, hard-driving, committed individuals who derive great satisfaction from being independent. Starting a new business requires more than just an idea; it requires sound judgement and planning along with an approach that reduces risk to provide the best chance of ensuring the survival and success of a new venture. In current times, as The Economist explains, the entrepreneur’s job is like zeroing in on a target: ﬁrst, you have to identify customer needs, then you build something that responds to those needs. You observe and assess the extent to which the new product/service addresses those needs successfully and continue to repeat the process until you achieve the right ‘product-market ﬁt’. There is no pay-off until you ﬁnd the right combination of product (and/or service), customer need and market with sufﬁcient potential to sustain a business.
Money does not start new businesses. People start new businesses; but some money is usually required.
It has never been easier to set up a ‘miniprise’ to service those niche needs in the Long Tail. Niche is the new mass as consumerism is now more about standing out, not conforming to trends. Long Tail businesses aggregate products in niche markets. They only need a few thousand people in the entire world to be interested in what they offer.
Would-be entrepreneurs live in a sea of dreams. Their destinations are private islands – places to build, create and transform their particular dreams into reality. Being an entrepreneur entails envisioning your island and even more important, it means getting in the boat and rowing to your island. Some leave the shore and drift aimlessly in the shallow waters close to shore, while others paddle furiously and get nowhere, because they don’t know how to paddle or steer. Worst of all are those who remain on the shore of the mainland, afraid to get in the boat. Yet, all those dreamers may one day be entrepreneurs if they can marshal the resources – external and internal –needed to transform their dreams into reality.
We all have an entrepreneur lying deep within. We are all creative beings to different degrees. I believe we are all called to be entrepreneurs in some way. Therefore it is in our best interest to discover and unleash the entrepreneurship spirit within each one of us.
***paraphrased from The Entrepreneur, Theory/Process/Practice by Howard Fredrick***