Entrepreneurship: What does it REALLY mean?

Introduction:

In a world where ideas drive economies, it is no wonder that innovation and entrepreneurship are often seen as inseparable bedfellows. The governments around the world are starting to realize that in order to sustain progress and improve a country’s economy, the people have to be encouraged and trained to think out-of-the-box and be constantly developing innovative products and services. The once feasible ways of doing business are no longer guarantees for future economic success!

In response to this inevitable change, some governments are rethinking the way the young are educated by infusing creative thinking and innovation in their nation’s educational curriculum. In the same vein, they are putting much emphasis on the need to train future entrepreneurs through infusing entrepreneurship components within the educational system, especially at the tertiary level.

Some countries have taken this initiative to a higher level by introducing entrepreneurship education at elementary schools and encouraging them to be future entrepreneurs when they are of age. In a series of survey funded by Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, it was found that nearly seven out of 10 youths (aged 14-19) were interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Being an entrepreneur is now the choice of the new generation as compared to the preferred career choices of yesteryears such as being a doctor, lawyer or a fighter pilot. In a recent visit to the bustling city of Shanghai in China, an informal survey was carried out among Chinese youths by the author. The results of the survey showed that being an entrepreneur, especially in the field of computer and e-commerce, is perceived as a ‘cool’ career and is an aspiration for many Chinese youths Prior to the ‘opening up’ of modern China, being an entrepreneur was perceived as the outcome of one’s inability to hold a good government job and those who dared to venture, were often scorned at by their peers. Times have indeed changed.

With this change in mindset and the relative knowledge that entrepreneurs bring forth increased job creations, the awareness and academic studies of entrepreneurship have also heightened. In many tertiary institutes, many courses of entrepreneurship and innovation are being developed and offered to cater to the increasing demand. The term “entrepreneurship” has also evolved with numerous variations. The proliferation of jargons such as netpreneur, biotechpreneur, technopreneur and multipreneur are coined to keep up with the ever-changing times and business conditions that surround us.

In view of these changes, it is important that the definition of entrepreneurship be refined or redefined to enable its application in this 21st century. To put it succinctly, “Good science has to begin with good definitions (Bygrave & Hofer, 1991, p13).” Without the proper definition, it will be laborious for policymakers to develop successful programs to inculcate entrepreneurial qualities in their people and organizations within their country.

The paper will provide a summary of the definitions of entrepreneurship provided by scholars in this subject area. The author will also expand on one of the definitions by Joseph Schumpeter to create a better understanding of the definition of the term “entrepreneurship” as applied in today’s business world.

Entrepreneurship through the Years:

It was discovered that the term ‘entrepreneurship’ could be found from the French verb ‘entreprende’ in the twelfth century though the meaning may not be that applicable today. This meaning of the word then was to do something without any link to economic profits, which is the antithesis of what entrepreneurship is all about today. It was only in the early 1700′s, when French economist, Richard Cantillon, described an entrepreneur as one who bears risks by buying at certain prices and selling at uncertain prices (Barreto, 1989, Casson 1982) which is probably closer to the term as applied today.

In the 1776 thought-provoking book ‘The Wealth of Nations’, Adam Smith explained clearly that it was not the benevolence of the baker but self-interest that motivated him to provide bread. From Smith’s standpoint, entrepreneurs were the economic agents who transformed demand into supply for profits.

In 1848, the famous economist John Stuart Mill described entrepreneurship as the founding of a private enterprise. This encompassed the risk takers, the decision makers, and the individuals who desire wealth by managing limited resources to create new business ventures.

One of the definitions that the author feels best exemplifies entrepreneurship was coined by Joseph Schumpeter (1934). He stated that the entrepreneur is one who applies “innovation” within the context of the business to satisfy unfulfilled market demand (Liebenstein, 1995). In elaboration, he saw an entrepreneur as an innovator who implements change within markets through the carrying out of new combinations. The carrying out of new combinations can take several forms:

The introduction of a new good or standard of quality;

  • The introduction of a novel method of production;
  • The opening of a new market;
  • The acquisition of a new source of new materials supply; and
  • The carrying out of the new organization in any industry.

Though the term ‘innovation’ has different meanings to different people, several writers tended to see “innovation” in the form of entrepreneurship as one not of incremental change but quantum change in the new business start-ups and the goods/services that they provide (egs, Bygrave, 1995; Bygrave & Hofer, 1991).

In the view of Drucker (1985), he perceived entrepreneurship as the creation of a new organization, regardless of its ability to sustain itself, let alone make a profit. The notion of an individual who starts a new business venture would be sufficient for him/her to be labeled as an entrepreneur. It is this characteristic that distinguishes entrepreneurship from the routine management tasks of allocating resources in an already established business organization. Though the definition tends to be somewhat simplistic in nature, it firmly attaches the nature of entrepreneurial action with risk-taking and the bearing of uncertainty by the individual (Swoboda, 1983)

In a Delphi study, Gartner (1990) found eight themes expressed by the participants that constitute the nature of entrepreneurship. They were the entrepreneur, innovation, organization creation, creating value, profit or non-profit, growth, uniqueness, and the owner-manager. The themes could be seen as a derivative and expansion of Schumpter’s earlier concept.

Expanding on Schumpeter’s Definition:

After digesting the numerous definitions of entrepreneurship, one would tend to see a strong link between these two terms: entrepreneurship and innovation. In retrospect, most of the definitions tended to be, to some extent, a re-work and expansion of Schumpeter’s definition of entrepreneurship (which is that of innovation being applied in a business context).

As defining the term of ‘innovation’ is highly debatable and would merit a paper on its own, the author has thus, for convenience, summarised the definition of innovation. Innovation can be perceived simply as the transformation of creative ideas into useful applications by combining resources in new or unusual ways to provide value to society for or improved products, technology, or services.

In the author’s opinion, the difficulties of defining “innovation” could be the reason for the quandary one finds in attempting to arrive at a clear-cut definition of the term ” Entrepreneurship”.

Take for example, if someone starts another run-of-the-mill hot dog stand in the streets of New York, will he termed as an entrepreneur? According to Drucker’s definition, he will be seen as one. However, if the above definition by Schumpeter was used as a guideline, the answer is probably ‘NO’.

Why? The core of the matter lies in what is so innovative about setting up another hot-dog stand which are in abundance in New York. On the contrary, if he is the first one to start a stand selling hot-dogs with Oriental Sweet and Sour sauce topping; he could be termed as an entrepreneur (even based on Schumpeter’s requirement) as he has done what others have not done before. In the context of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation are key points in the whole scheme of things.

In this manner, by adding “innovative” features to a product or services and setting up a business based on these additional features to compete in the existing market, new entrants may be able to gain this competitive advantage over existing market players.

In the case of the hot-dog seller, it may be argued that his addition of Oriental Sweet and Sour sauce toppings may be seen as nondescript. This runs in contrary to some scholars’ definition of entrepreneurship as requiring quantum changes in the products/ services to be justified as being entrepreneurial (Bygrave, 1985; Bygrave & Hofer, 1991).

Consistent with creating new products for sale, someone who starts a business by providing a totally new way of serving his customers/ clients is considered to be entrepreneurial too. Though, it is often argued that there are no real new products or services in a case where one does not look to the past products and services for ideas for improvements. Thus, the notion of incremental improvements should be accepted as being innovative too.

Innovation in the business sense may not necessarily involve, in the physical sense, the introduction of a new product or service. It can be in the form of what is commonly known as creative imitations. For example, if an individual starts selling a product that is already common in his area or country, he will not be seen as being entrepreneurial. However, if he is the first to sell the same product in a virgin locale or to an untouched market segment, he will be seen as an entrepreneur in his own rights.

Take Muhammad Yunus, for example. Yunus became an entrepreneur when he started a micro-loan program for the poor villagers in a rural part of Bangladesh named Grameen, with only US$26. The loan was divided among 42 villagers to assist them to buy small items such as combs, scissors, needles and other necessities to start their own home businesses. In the past 22 years, Grameen Bank has grown with over $2 billion loans granted. It has now become a model for several micro-loan facilities.

>From the following example, Yunus created banking and lending facilities in Grameen specifically for the poor villagers. Banking and lending money activities are not new but Yunus was the first to provide such facilities in a rural part of Bangladesh and that is definitely innovation and risk-bearing on his part as a social entrepreneur. In short, innovation need not arise mainly from a new product or service but it could be an old product or service finding a new market for penetration.

An individual could be termed as an entrepreneur if he or she sells a product or service using new systems and/ or mediums of marketing, distribution or production methods as a basis for a new business venture. A good example will be Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the successful Web-based bookstore. He was one of the first to sell books on a large scale using an online store and also patented the one-click system for online buying. Though selling books is not an innovation in itself, Jeff Bezos was innovative in the use of the Internet then as a viable marketing and sales channel for selling books.

Another example from the field of e-commerce is Stuart Skorman, the founder of Reel.com [http://Reel.com]. Reel.com [http://Reel.com] is essentially one of the first cyber movie store with a very large inventory of over a 100 000 videos. Though setting a movie store was revolutionary then, Reel.com [http://Reel.com] main distinction was being known as the first online store to expand by opening an offline store. The founder felt that by doing so, the online store could be an advertisement for the offline store and vice versa, thus strengthening this click and mortar business venture- an example of creativity and innovation applied in a profitable business context.

Conclusion:

This paper has started as an attempt to redefine the term of entrepreneurship but ended up ‘updating’ the wheel, based on the definition as proposed by Schumpeter. The paper expanded on this influential work by giving examples to illustrate what innovation in entrepreneurship was and hope that along the way, new insights were unearthed in the study of defining entrepreneurship.

In summary, the author hopes that this paper would further encourage the infusion of creative thinking and innovation within the educational system to nurture future entrepreneurs with a competitive edge. In the author’s view, the characteristics and capabilities to set up a new business venture based on doing things that have not done before should be encouraged. Innovation needs to be the cornerstone of entrepreneurship as opposed to the mere setting up of another new enterprise without implementing changes or adding features of improvements to the products and services provided and/ or its business processes.

Learning Spanish Courses – For Work Or Play

Learning a language, especially Spanish can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I have put together a few tips on surviving the Spanish language course.First of all, if you have ever decided on learning Spanish or you think it's time to knuckle down and finally learn there's never been a better time to learn it. More and more countries are accepting Spanish on their school curriculum as there are more Spanish speakers venturing to other countries seeking out new lives. If you do not want to "miss the boat" as it was, now's the time to study Spanish.

Below I've made some bullet points on learning Spanish effectively.

Why learn Spanish in the first place

First of all, before you begin your classes it would be a good idea to know your exact reasons for wanting to learn the language. Is it for work or play? In other words, do you need it in your job or is your learning Spanish more orientated to towards leisure or culture? So many people are finding better employment these days as a direct result of learning a language such as Spanish. The opportunities that exist are literally endless – translation, catering / restaurants, government and civil servant jobs to name but a few. I'm quite sure your boss will appreciate you that much more too, let alone your personal finances! Yes, having another language is a tool that helps you earn more money and that can not be bad, can it? Also, your boss will be inclined to promote you as you will be an invaluable asset to his or any company.

If you have motives other than your job or career then I'm sure you'll find learning Spanish a winning hobby. Just think about being able to converse with your new neighbors in Spanish! How welcome you'd make them feel by chatting to them in their native language. Imagine impressing your family and friends by ordering your next meal at a Mexican or Spanish restaurant in fluent Spanish.

Learning because of love

Maybe you've set your heart on learning the Spanish language because of love. Maybe you have met the girl or boy of your dreams and the language barrier has reared its ugly head. What a fine and noble opportunity to learn your future mate's language and converse properly with them. One of the best methods to learn Spanish today is by using one of the very many online Spanish course methods. There are a few good ones on the internet today and they are all highly recommended for learning the language.

So whether it's to improve your career, to enrich yourself culturally or even love then you could hardly go wrong in starting out on the right foot with an online Spanish course.

7 Ways to Experience Warmth This Holiday Sales Season

Feeling a little glum this holiday season? Many people do. Psychologists tell us that their client business really picks up around this time of year. Why is that? Are not the holidays designed to bring out the best in people? Do they really? Many people are lonely, even in a crowd, feeling isolated and apart from caring family and friends. Quite possibly, they feel that no one really cares or even cares enough to listen.

While these issues may vary as far and wide as the individuals in question, there is a common thread among all of us. That thread is purpose . In his huge best-seller, A Purpose Driven Life , Rick Warren outlines the case for purpose and answers the question "What on Earth am I here for?" Purpose make all of the difference and can supersede any circumstances as long as we do not allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity or selfishness.

Many salespeople experience a flood of negative emotions during the holidays. retailers notice both an increase in hostility and a decrease in patience and manners among customers. Field salespeople, often already excluded from their co-workers, often experience a discouraging slowdown in business and the customer's desire to put off purchasing decisions until after the first of the new year. Furthermore, these salespeople often are on the front lines of poor human behavior, sometimes falling victim to the wrath of an angry customer.

I submit to you that this Christmas season can be different and wonderful for you. You can make a real difference in your own life and affect countless others in the process. How? Simply do something positive for another human being without any expectation of payback or benefit to yourself. Start with the following:

1. Give of yourself.

2. Be a friend.

3. Lend an ear.

4. Provide a shoulder.

5. Pick someone else up.

6. Offer encouragement.

7. Smile

Did you note that none of these were financial or involved material things in any way? The truly important things in life seldom are. Remember, what comes around, goes around. We do reap what we sow.

So today, help out at your local soup kitchen, Salvation Army or faith-based facility. Invite a college student or military person with now to go over to your home for Christmas dinner. Look for opportunities to provide little services for others, often going unnoticed. In so doing, you will warm up and discover joy and purpose, leading to fulfillment and happiness this Holiday Season.

Try these seven activities and see for yourself. When January, 2008 arrives, you will be more than ready, emotionally charged, changed and expectant of a banner year.

The Most Important Components of Physical Fitness

There are components of physical fitness which insurance companies and trainers take into account as they are significant to the overall evaluation of health. Basically it is similar to a fine-tuning a racing engine, you would never add diesel to an engine that requires high octane.

When physical trainers measure the fitness of a person they use some components of physical fitness to test against a set standard and to develop goals for further improvement. By incorporating these components of physical fitness you can not only improve your health but also lose weight.

The first of these is muscular strength. This measures the ability of the muscle to exert a maximal force through a range of motion or to a given point. This is measured for a short period of time and usually incorporates the use of weights for evaluation.

As muscular strength varies through the body, you might for instance you have
high muscular strength in your arms while having weaker legs, this component is related to the amount and type of exercise that your body undergoes. Weight training or strength training is the only method to improve strength. One principle of increased muscle mass is that that a larger amount of muscle consumes a greater number of calories, even at rest. By increasing mass you effectively increase the amount of calories needed for your body at rest and will reduce your body fat ratio. Another benefit to strength training is that it will help to maintain your bone structure and decrease your risk of osteoporosis.

The second component is muscular endurance. This reflects to your muscles ability to work through a range of motion over a specific amount of time. This can be measured by the ability to hold a weight for a specific amount of time – say 20 pounds over-head for 5 minutes. Many times this component is measured through push-ups as these are exercises that exert a specific amount of pressure over time. This measures the upper body muscular endurance.

Muscular endurance is often confused with muscular strength because they are related. However they offer different benefits, while using muscular endurance an athlete is able to shovel snow for an hour lifting and moving a sub-maximum amount of snow over a specified amount of time. Muscular strength would have been the ability of the arms and shoulders to lift the maximum amount a couple of times.

The trainer will test muscular endurance while he will also be testing cardiovascular endurance because these two components are closely related. Cardiovascular endurance will reflect how well your heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen to your body, this is also called aerobic fitness. Trainers may use long runs or swims to test cardiac endurance and test muscular endurance at the same time. This is the cornerstone to complete health and fitness. Without cardiovascular endurance you can not improve the rest of your fitness.

Another component is flexibility, this is the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion and the elasticity of the muscles. Some refer to this as how limber or supple you are, this is a major component of physical fitness and one that is often over looked. Not everyone needs to be as limber as a gymnast but we all need a degree of flexibility to deal with the demands placed on us during our daily lives.

Stretching is associated with flexibility in order to maintain or increase the ability of a joint to stretch further. Maintaining your flexibility is important for protection of your joints and allowing you to strengthen further to protect your back and reduce the pain of arthritis.

The final component of physical fitness is body composition. This is the ratio of lean body mass to fat body mass. This proportion does not refer to your weight in pounds or to your figure but to a measurement against a standard. Women and men have different body composition ratios. Women carry a higher percentage of fat to maintain a developing baby. This does not mean that women are fatter – but that their fat distribution is different.

Your body composition is really more a consequence of your overall fitness. If you have a high body fat mass ratio you are more at risk for coronary heart disease, diabetes, joint and back pain, arthritis, stroke and tendon-muscle accidents.

These components of physical fitness are foundation to physical fitness and the ability of the human body to withstand external forces and internal stress while maintaining health and wellness.