There is a danger that people see entrepreneurship as a one channel thing that creates a business and which has its entrepreneurial capital determined by the size of the return on investment. It is precisely this attitude that will create the problems coming out of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Until we understand a couple of things about people we will not understand the true range of entrepreneurial options available to us.
Firstly, it is important to realise that it is not necessary to be a university drop out in order to be an entrepreneur! We are all born creative and despite, rather than because of, the education system, some of us retain that creativity and others can have it reawakened.
It is also important to recognise that entrepreneurship is not limited by size. Yes, it is great that some of the entrepreneurs mentioned earlier have created lots of jobs, but there is equal merit in the entrepreneur that runs a one person enterprise in order to create a living income. For the individual in a small village that identifies a way to store water for the community to cope with drought, that is just as important to the people of the village as any mobile.
There is also a misconception that entrepreneurship in 21st Century has to be scientifically or technologically based. I recently promoted some awards for entrepreneurship in the creative arts and I was both pleased and impressed by the ideas that came forward. Most importantly, to me, many of the solutions put forward in the competition showed concern for others or for the environment. There is clearly scope for entrepreneurship that is based on recycling and which is more sustainable and there is certainly scope for solutions that address the problems of the less fortunate in society.
Another place where entrepreneurship can flourish is in communities that have a common problem. When they were first introduced then credit unions were considered entrepreneurial as were village shops run by the community where no commercial option was available. Certainly social entrepreneurship in many forms is another option for communities to consider where there are common problems.
Interestingly, in today’s world, there is more need than ever for entrepreneurial solutions to problems as the conventional ones continue to fail. However, in many ways there is less entrepreneurship once one moves outside of the technological sphere.
For years now creative people have been able to make things that people want to buy. These people would use education to hone their craft and then would make a living selling what they made. Unfortunately, running a business as a craftsperson or an artist is not considered a proper profession these days. Surely courses for the creative arts should also teach how to turn their craft into a business.
I well remember assisting a new entrepreneur in her early days when she wanted to produce jewellery where she used recycled cats eyes from the highways department as stones because she couldn’t afford expensive stones. Today, she is successful around the world and sells pieces priced at thousands of British Pounds and I am still proud of my fifteen year old cats eye cufflinks that started out on a motorway in Oxfordshire.
In the same way as I believe we should credit the entrepreneur from the creative arts, I also believe we should credit the entrepreneur that starts a business on their own and may well never grow to a large business but creates an independent income for the entrepreneur and a few staff.
One of the most undervalued entrepreneurs is the social entrepreneur. These are where the venture is not primarily for profit but for a social benefit.
One could argue that all of these forms of entrepreneurship have existed prior to the 21st Century, if only in a limited form. However, I believe that the need for these forms of entrepreneurship need to come much more to the fore in today’s world.
Therefore, we need to adapt to allow for more entrepreneurship in all its forms. We need to recognise that creative arts entrepreneurship is a valued result of a creative education. We need to recognise that small-scale, non-technology based entrepreneurship has a real value. We need to see the value in increasing communication through social entrepreneurship. Most importantly, we need to recognise the importance of the social impact of entrepreneurship in 21st Century.
In 21st Century it is becoming less acceptable to simply pursue the no consequences, material motive, profit model. Entrepreneurs and those that regulate need to consider the human, social and environmental impact of what they do.