Recently, I had an enjoyable and informative luncheon accompanied with lively discussion about my favourite topic—the entrepreneur.
Both of my new acquaintances are within the world of publishing and the elder of the two wanted to emphasize his disdain for the word “entrepreneur “ in our society.
It is his belief that people generally find the ‘E’ word mysterious, unpleasant and therefore distancing.
Of course, I had no other choice but to disagree politely, but I left our lunch with an idea for my column this week.
Let’s begin with some theory. The word entrepreneur is derived from the French entreprendre, meaning to undertake.
For many generations, academia has bantered around on an acceptable definition of an entrepreneur, but we still have yet to lovingly embrace one single definition that we can all hold dear.
The entrepreneur in our society isn’t the big evil sinister opportunist that some may choose to believe. Even if all entrepreneurs were crass, selfish and uncouth, we must still recognize the valuable role they play in our society.
I have admittedly accepted the theory that entrepreneurs are extraordinarily bright and greedy individuals whose activities border on disrepute. Sometimes, it is grudgingly even conceded that the sheer vitality and energy of entrepreneurs somehow pushes capitalist societies to higher and higher levels of socio-economic well-being.
Mercy that, something actually positive and progressive.
Moreover, the most tangible evidence of entrepreneurial success, namely the earning of pure unmistakable profit, is seen as evidence of the unjustified character of entrepreneurial behaviour because, after all, profits are not paid in return for any productive service at all.
I say profit is a powerful motive that drives individuals to activity by any definition—it gets things going.
But honestly speaking, there is no guarantee that the pursuit of profit will not lead to a great deal of waste, injustice and heartbreak.
I don’t claim that entrepreneurs are unquestionable moral heroes. Instead, I claim rigorously the remarkable set of institutions that comprise the entrepreneurial market system are able to harness important human characteristics and human attributes for the overall benefit to our global society.
Who are entrepreneurs and what do they do? We know that they start companies and introduce new products, discover new production techniques, new markets, new sources of finances and develop new sources of internal organization and so on..
Confusing but descriptive is the textual display that highlights the entrepreneur, who offers innovation and creativity, leadership, information and education, pure uncertainty and a bridge over troubled economic waters.
What I love about entrepreneurs is their uncanny skill at identifying opportunity and solution where others seek chaos and confusion and thus, overlook what might be.
What this means is that an entrepreneur recognizes something that the rest of us have failed to see and that there is often an entrepreneurial “opportunity” waiting to be embraced.
Far away from the “unearned” character of profit being evidence of pure exploitation or fraud, entrepreneurial pursuit points to an invaluable role to inspire pure discovery and generate solutions to socio-economic problems to find solutions to our human “needs.”
There should be no mystery—the entrepreneur is the agent that spurs society to take advantage of existing scattered and dispersed knowledge.
An entrepreneur’s involvement helps spur society to continually find better ways to utilize existing resources and alertness to generate and harness new technological knowledge and new bodies of resources previously overlooked.