What is Entrepreneurship?

What is Entrepreneurship? - Steve O'Dell

What is Entrepreneurship?

This blog will be exploring social entrepreneurship. But, in order to successfully understand the social aspect of it, we’ll need to answer the question: “What is Entrepreneurship?”, and have a clear understanding of the general terms “entrepreneurship” and “entrepreneur”.

Let’s start with the question:

What is an Entrepreneur?

Around the year 1800, French Economist Jean-Baptiste first defined the entrepreneur as someone who, “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.” Entrepreneurship is everything that happens between the idea and the final result, or according to Baptiste, all the actions that occur to transfer from low productivity to a high productivity.

This is a simple an intuitive definition that describes entrepreneurial activity. It’s a value proposition, “My company X will turn Y resource into a billion dollars”. However, if you apply it differently, there’s a lot of wiggle room. By Baptiste’s definition anyone using a simple lifehack could be transferring something useless or unproductive into something useful or productive.

More recent definitions of entrepreneurship set further standards to tighter define entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. These definitions are essential to create a distinction between the everyday life hacker and the entrepreneur. Common qualities absent from the average hacker are creativity, fortitude, and ambition.

There is one more important part of the entrepreneur that distinguishes them from the average hacker. The entrepreneur’s productivity improvements affect the public. A private hack that only helps one individual, no matter how useful or repeatable, does not label them as an entrepreneur.

While further advanced, this definition is still black and white, it leaves us with two pools: People adding public value with Creativity, Fortitude, and Ambition (the entrepreneurs) and People failing to add public value (Non-entrepreneurs life hackers + rest of population).

This leaves us with one question left:

“Where do you add value?”

Entrepreneurs add value in public organizations and private enterprises. You don’t (and shouldn’t) need to drop out of college or quit your job to become an entrepreneur. It’s perfectively acceptable to be disruptive, creative, courageous, and ambitious in the workplace too.

In fact, most companies embrace the entrepreneurial mindset amongst their employees and some of the biggest companies in the United States are the greatest advocates of entrepreneurship in the workplace. For example, Facebook, Google, Tesla, Amazon, and others have all achieved widespread acclaim for their entrepreneurially minded workforce.

We are left with a balanced and refined definition of entrepreneurship:

 “An individual increasing the value of resources available to the public through creativity, courage, and ambition either in their organization or private enterprise”


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