In the late 90s, the dotcoms altered the public view of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship became synonymous with High Tech Startups. We lost a deeper and richer understanding of what entrepreneurship is. Given the historical foundations, we see entrepreneurship playing various roles throughout history. At its most fundamental level entrepreneurship is a mindset that shows itself in a variety of ways. Ultimately it is something that can be taught and learned. Being an entrepreneur isn’t all or nothing, rather it is an incremental evolving process.
Man’s natural state is Entrepreneurship. The factory system was started in the 1800s and up until that time, many people were entrepreneurs. During the middle ages with the rise of the middle class and the rise of cities, we saw people engaging in entrepreneurship. The Greek, European and Chinese traders that discovered the world were entrepreneurs. It isn’t new, it is something that we have been doing for a long time. Through the lens of history, we see the entrepreneur as risk-takers, organizers, and innovators.
Entrepreneurship is the ability to identify a situation and with the resources at hand, find a potential creative solution, try it, fail, and do the process again. The best entrepreneurs have mastered the art of failing faster, systematically working through ideas and concepts while having the perseverance to endure all of the ups and downs. Entrepreneurship is not a fixation to just do stuff your way, generally, that is mental laziness. The best entrepreneurs deeply understand or have mastered a system or discipline and apply systematic training to their work. That training could be from a trade school, or professional.
They are in everything, they are in corporations, charities, small business, and government. In small business, they can take a few forms. Real estate buyers/renters/flippers, small business operators, tech startups, gig workers, independent consultants. According to the SBA, there are over 22,000,000 businesses with 0 employees. 4,000,000 businesses with 1-10 employees, and 1,000,000 for the rest. Today’s entrepreneurs employ most of the population. It isn’t Ford, Facebook, and Google. Those companies are great but they are a small part of the whole economic engine.
What I wish I knew
When I was younger I thought that you had to go to college or trade school, learn a set of skills and then trade, then go work for someone else. It occurred to me that with a set of skills I could open a small business, but I thought you had to have a lot of money to do that. I didn’t realize that entrepreneurship is incremental. That you could do a job, do things on the side, build and grow those things. I didn’t realize that you don’t need to have a great idea or be a great inventor. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. It can be learned, and ultimately is available to anyone that wants to endure the process.