Redefine entrepreneurialism and sustainability may flourish...

The online Oxford dictionaries site says that an entrepreneur is

  • a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit 

Wikipedia says that entrepreneurship is:

  • the process of starting a business or other organization 

The Cambridge online dictionaries site defines entrepreneurialism as:

  • the skills that you need to start your own business 

The 'Small Business Pro' site says that the skills you need to run your own business are:

  • leadership skills
  • strategic planning skills
  • marketing skills
  • sales and customer relations skills
  • communication skills
  • people management skills
  • finance and accounting skills

Neither the Small Business Pro site, nor any other, is prepared to say how much of these skills you might require: and that makes sense, of course. Each of these 'skills' is not only qualitative, but arranged on a spectrum: people are more or less good at each of them; and there is no template for what combination of skills, at what 'level', comprises effective entrepreneurialism.

But wait. Just how 'business'-specific are these skills? Imagine specifying the skills required to - say - run a home or household successfully. Or to raise a child, or children, successfully. Or to look after a large garden.

And if you find yourself looking through the list of skills you need 'to run your own business' and thinking "Well, I can't see how that skill is relevant to looking after a large garden", then recall or imagine a business entrepreneur of your acquaintance and ask: is there at least one of these areas where the person I am thinking of is singularly crap?

So I wish to re-cast the notion of entrepreneurialism as:

  • the process of deploying finite resources in pursuit of a goal where there is a genuine risk of failure 

Which is by way of suggesting that entrepreneurialism is a skill-set universally present in the population, and which, as a result of its compound nature, is distributed in an untidy spectrum from 'low' to 'high'.

And why this might be of any use whatsoever? Two reasons:
  • it would signal a broader notion of 'reward' or 'return' or 'success' than merely profit 
  • it would include and legitimise a much wider set of people within the group upon whose resourcefulness and creativity our collective prosperity depends 
If, as I suspect, the concept of 'entrepreneurialism' is a key node in the complex, open system that is our economy (or, to put it another way, it is a particularly important commitment device in the interlocking set of rules determining the operation of capitalism) then a change of this kind has the potential to have far-reaching effects - effects that, I further suspect, would be very much consistent with the notion of sustainability.

So if you've ever thought haughtily about housework, or gardening or parenting - think again.

[If there's a photo down here it was added August 2017 as part of blog refresh.  Photo is either mine or is linked to where I found it. Make of either what you will.]


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