This week. we read David Pozen’s article, We Are All Entrepreneurs Now. What do you think is the public’s impression of “entrepreneurship”? What makes you say so? Is Pozen correct that it has become a trendy “buzzword”? Does it matter? What are your own impressions of entrepreneurship?
Try to find some articles that discuss the popularity – or unpopularity – of entrepreneurship, or ones which discuss the public’s understanding of the term or lack thereof.
This link is interesting because it gives a positive view of entrepreneurs and even believes that they can be of more help than the government in terms of correcting problems in society. I think that this is a common view today that those who have worked hard to start their own company are more willing to help those around them
“The concept of being an entrepreneur is not new, but today, being an entrepreneur is growing in popularity and to say you’re an entrepreneur sounds sexy…” This short article goes on to distinguish the terms “entrepreneur” and “business owner” based on multiple factors, including one’s emotional input, creativity, risk sensitivity, and general business philosophy.
To see how popular entrepreneurs are, you can look to how much they were bandied about during the presidential campaign. I think you can see that entrepreneurs were at least in the top three groups of people, along with women and veterans, that were brought onstage and used to promote ideas. When you have millions of dollars going into making the candidates look and be more popular, their messaging can be an insight into the present zeitgeist.
There has been no better time than now for us “all to be entrepreneurs.” As we discussed in class with the motion picture industry over the years, technological advancements and consumer preferences has shaped business models and ideas in recent decades. Today, even the “little guy” can “make it big” with the right idea. In American society, any idea or invention that makes life more accessible, convenient or cheaper will be pursued by the average consumer – with the owner of that product or service gaining the profit. The rise of entrepreneurism has been facilitated by the norms of American society and its economy, and that makes it a very exciting time for creative individuals seeking to create and maintain a profitable business.
The link above confirmed my intuitions that the public, at least the American public, has a positive and upbeat attitude towards entrepreneurship. The article suggests that entrepreneurship is at its highest level since 2005. What’s most surprising about this article is the rise of opportunity entrepreneurs, individuals who started businesses based on their perception of future opportunities. Given the current state of the economy, I wrongly predicted that the rise in entrepreneurship is the result of individuals starting businesses because they couldn’t find jobs, known as necessity entrepreneurship.
Zoltan Acs of George Mason University has a theory about this – that entrepreneurs who have started a business tend to over-report that it is “opportunity entrepreneurship” rather than “necessity entrepreneurship.” It would take some digging to confirm whether or not that’s true, and I don’t know if any social science research has been done on the subject – or what the basis would be for an “objective” determination of “necessity” versus “opportunity” entrepreneurship.
When I looked for a relevant article, almost all of them were positive. Just to be different, I thought I would try to find an article bashing entrepreneurship. I did not find too many. I think this confirms the general trend that others have noticed. Entrepreneurs are hot right now. The current perception seems to be that the word “entrepreneur” combines a “self-made man,” a “job creator,” and an “innovator.”
However, I did find the blog post copied below. It talks about how America may have reached the tipping point with entrepreneurship when too much of a good thing turns bad. The line “The startup bug has become a startup fever, and that fever may be driving many people to hysteria,” sums up the point pretty well. The author takes the perspective of the already existing firms looking to recruit young talent. Most of that young talent (he is talking specifically about Silicon Valley, but I think his point applies in other industries/sectors) have caught the fever. They are joining the established firms with the intention of staying there just long enough for them to learn enough to break off and start their own company. This is bad for those existing firms and may be bad for the economy. I have to confess, as someone that wants to start my own business, I have considered doing the exact same thing in the relevant industry. The author laments the passing of the days when young people joined a firm because they believed in the company and its product and wanted to be part of a team. I agree that there is an egocentric aspect in my desire to be my own boss and to make my own product.
Interesting – and great work finding some opposing perspective! I wonder, however, if all the “fervor” is isolated. In other words, yes, in some circles, entrepreneurship may have reached a fever pitch (like in Silicon Valley), but in plenty of places around the country, there is little-to-no understanding or appreciation of it. (Academia, for one, outside of colleges of business or engineering, our inner cities, and in grade schools and high schools — all places where we desperately need it.)
On a related note, I don’t see any problem with working for someone else knowing you plan to start your own business. When the average length of a first-time job is 4 1/2 years, and in the current climate of outsourcing, it’s safe to say that employees know they probably won’t be at the company they join for a long time — why should their loyalty be one-sided? Furthermore, there are a lot of companies interested in creating the kind of culture that generates love and loyalty. It could well be that people join those companies thinking they’ll leave, and end up staying?
To your first point: I agree that academia is just beginning to try to understand what entrepreneurship is and how to promote it. I think the blogger’s point, however, was not about the study of entrepreneurship, but more about the phenomenon itself. His claim is more about young people entering firms and their desire to be entrepreneurs. I definitely agree that the extent to which the level of this desire has reached an unhealthy, fever point (if one even exists) depends on the specific location and sector. Silicon Valley may be such a place. On a related note, I found it very interesting that in last week’s reading Darian Ibrahim compared the start-up boom in Silicon Valley with Boston’s Route 128 (saying some scholars point to the non-enforcement of non-competition clauses as a reason for SV’s greater success).
To your second point: I definitely agree. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I found this article more of a chance for some introspection, realizing that my personal desires may be partially egotistical and have some unintended consequences. The blogger even worries at some point that he will sound like an old man. I think the kind of firm loyalty he describes goes back to the mid-Twentieth Century, and no longer applies to the average company. Those companies that want to foster loyalty can do it by creating such a culture. However, I don’t know if the 4.5 year average 1st job statistic helps or hurts the blogger’s argument. I guess it depends on the reasons most of those people leave their first job.
I read an interesting article that specifically speaks to our generation and how we view entrepreneurship. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/opinion/sunday/the-entrepreneurial-generation.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Although some of the discussion in this article is a little silly I think it is interesting how many people in this generation are interested in starting their own business or moving forward with their ideas to create something their own. I am not sure if this has to do with easier access to start up capital for young adults today or the way our generation was raised to think that we are exceptional.
I’ll definitely read it. But if you’re right – that many more people of your generation are interested in entrepreneurship because they’ve been raised to think they’re exceptional — don’t see anything wrong with that, per se. In fact, it might be a great thing — starting a company is one of the most humbling experiences possible. 🙂 (At least until you make it big!)
After reading Pozen’s article, I still believe that the public’s impression of “entrepreneurship” is financial risk? I understand his article suggests that entrepreneurship is at its highest level since 2005. And similar to what Robby Ward said above, given the current state of the economy, one would expect that the rise in entrepreneurship is the result of individuals starting businesses because they couldn’t find jobs — necessity entrepreneurship. Back to my comment about financial risk, I believe that America’s current unpredictable economy presents a large barrier to entrepreneurs. For example, it is very difficult to get financing in our economy. Even if entrepreneurs can receive financing, the debt that accompanies this financing presents another hurdle (i.e., entrepreneurs may go broke if their ventures fail, and they become unable to pay back their debt). The article that I’m posting discusses another type of risk that entrepreneurs are worried about: risky ideas and risky execution.
Here is the article: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/running_small_business/archives/2009/08/entrepreneurs_and_risk.html
P.S. I tried to edit the article. I didn’t mean to include the bottom two paragraphs, only the first paragraph of text.