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.

Impact of Technology on Business

Together with the advancement of science and technology, technological innovations grew along with it, resulting to the emergence of new equipment and gadgets. No matter how big or small your company is, technology brings both intangible and tangible benefits to become cost efficient and to meet the growing demands and needs of customers. Technological innovations affect corporate efficiency, culture and relationship among employees, clients, suppliers and customers. The type and quality of technology used affect the security of confidential business information.

Due to the burden brought by administrative tasks, like inventory, bookkeeping and records keeping, both big and small companies rely on computers to do their administrative works. The birth of Internet and online social networking sites tremendously decreased the costs of business operations. It also makes it easier for companies to use the Six Sigma management methodologies. Some firms shifted to outsourcing instead of hiring their own personnel due to the low costs associated with it. Because of the huge impact of technological innovations to companies, it is impossible for them to live with it.

Commonly used high technology equipment:

  • Computers
  • Photocopier
  • Telephone
  • Computer printer
  • Internet
  • Paper shredder
  • Multimedia projector
  • Touch screen monitors
  • Computer mouse
  • Laptop computers

Advantages of Technology to Business:

  • Customer Relations. Technology affects the way companies communicate and establish relations with their clients. In a fast moving and business environment, it is vital for them to interact with clients regularly and quickly to gain their trust and to obtain customer loyalty. With the use of Internet and online social networks, firms interact with consumers and answer all their queries about the product. Establishing effective communication with customers not only creates rapport with them, but it also creates strong public image. It allows business enterprises to reduce and to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Business Operations. With the use of technological innovations, business owners and entrepreneur understand their cash flow better, how to manage their storage costs well and enables you to save time and money.
  • Corporate Culture. Technology lets employees communicate and interact with other employees in other countries. It establishes clique and prevents social tensions from arising.
  • Security. Modern security equipment enables companies to protect their financial data, confidential business information and decisions.
  • Research Opportunities. It provides a venue to conduct studies to keep themselves ahead of competitors. It allows companies to virtually travel into unknown markets.
  • Corporate Reports. With technology, business enterprises communicate effectively with their branch offices to deliver quality financial and operational reports.
  • Industrial Productivity. Through the use of business software programs or software packages, it automated traditional manufacturing process, reduces labor costs and enhances manufacturing productivity. It enables companies to increase efficiency and production output.
  • Business mobility. Technological innovations improved companies’ sales, services, shorted lead time on receiving and delivering goods and services. Enables them to penetrate multiple markets at least costs.
  • Research capacity. It enables them to conduct studies on various companies to gain knowledge on the new trends in the market and way on avoiding them.

Lubrication of Domestic Clocks

Domestic clocks are one of the most ignored watches in the entire household. We make sure that our wrist watches are well maintained with good servicing, battery changes and of course lots of lubricating. But domestic watches are practically ignored till the battery runs down. Even then, we just replace the battery without getting any servicing or lubricating done on it. That means that the watch continues to run without any care or oiling till they finally expire and die! But just like wristwatches, domestic watches need to be maintained well too with regular cleaning and lubrication and care. Clocks are larger than wristwatches so a little too much lubrication is OK here.

But still there are rules to be followed in lubrication and care of clocks like-

* Try to use just a single drop of oil in the watch works to make the watch remain on time. These are bigger watches so they don’t really require you to be precise but it’s a good idea if you are. Carriage clocks require a smaller amount while long clocks and grandfather clocks require much more.

* Try not to scrape the oil pots while oiling watches as it scrapes up unnecessary settled grit into the workings of the clock. This is especially true of incalite pots. Use only fresh oil and discard any which has more than five years on the packing date on the seal; protect the oil you are using by storing it at room temperature and away from direct light. An ideal temperature would be about 15 to 20 C or as stated by the manufacturer of the clock. There are several points on a domestic clock where you can oil them and the oil will them spread to all over the clock workings. Good places to apply lubrication are at oils sinks or pivot holes, escapement pallet faces, weight pulley bearings and points of contact between different parts of the mechanism.

* Make sure you do clean the mainspring and refit the watch springs after you have oiled the domestic wall clocks. You can also apply heavy grade mineral oil around the edges of the barrel cap. Capillary action will make sure that the oil spreads all over the mechanism.

* Do not lubricate or oil pinion leaves and gear teeth, as they will slip while revolving. Another place to be careful of is the ratchet and the great wheel arbor in the main clock facings.

* The frequency of oiling depends on how frequently you use the clock and the location it is based in. Synthetic oils are very stable and do not deteriorate but non-synthetic oils do. The residue leaves a gummy deposit in the watch that can destroy a good watch.

* Contamination with dust will however really cause a tremendous amount of wear on the clock and that can damage the mechanism. Reapplication of oils is fine after the old one has been wiped off.

But do make sure that you do service the watch at least every two years to maintain optimum working conditions.

Traveling Tips for Severe Weather

There is a lot of forethought that goes into a trip. You think about packing, plane tickets, travel time, what to do when you arrive. However, sometimes Mother Nature can spoil even the best travel plans. Thankfully, you can take steps to prevent her spoiling the vacation you worked so hard for. Weather can impact you on every level. From what you bring, to what you buy, to what you do after you arrive, to even arriving or leaving on time. It can also affect the vehicle you rent or take around. The following are a few helpful tips you can utilize to help ensure that the elements have very little negative affect on your trip.

First and foremost, try going during the most temperate time of the year. If you plan on traveling north, try to go in the summer, or spring. If you are traveling south, fall or even winter are pretty safe bets. You can also familiarize yourself with the weather patterns of the area you are going to. If you are going to Arizona or New Mexico, check to see if its monsoon season or if there is a drought currently taking place. If you are going to a place like New York or Chicago during the winter, check the snow patterns. Some places have consistent snowfall throughout the entire winter, starting either before you expect or ending long after.

You can also pack to prepare, just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Normally you can buy whatever you need at your destination but a little forethought will help you avoid those unnecessary costs. Packing a heavy coat for winter states or a couple umbrellas for rainy states will go a long way in making sure you stay happy and you can spend your money on something you want rather than something you’ll end up needing.

Something else to consider is where you are staying. Make sure the hotel you are staying at is up to date and centrally located to the places you’d like to go. There are few things worse on a trip than having to spend it cooped up in four walls because a hurricane or blizzard suddenly hit. You can also rent a certain type of vehicle to help with your destination and needs. An SUV will come in handy if you are going somewhere that might have conditions that affect the road.

Finally, try and reach out to any local people in the area. They can sometimes be much more helpful than any website or television forecast. Your rental car company or hotel concierge should be able to provide you with a first-hand account of what you can expect weather-wise for your vacation. So, remember: research the area you are traveling to. Pack a light jacket, sensible shoes or a couple of ponchos. Look into your hotel location and accommodations and make sure your mode of transportation can handle most inclement weather. If you follow these simple tips, you should be ready for anything!