What is Entrepreneurship?

As an Adjunct Professor at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School, I taught a course on financing new ventures.  Most of the students came into the class thinking about creating the next venture-backed, tech IPO and that this is the type of business that an “Entrepreneur” would build.  They thought that entrepreneurs are high risk/high reward seekers with new and innovative ideas. Many grappled with the false dichotomy of taking a corporate Fortune 500 job or “being an entrepreneur.”  These choices are actually not mutually exclusive.  I think we need to broaden our definition of entrepreneurship and of what it means to be entrepreneurial..  I am currently a part owner of three entrepreneurial ventures and the active CEO of one: Zylun, an offshore outsourcing firm; Oxzen, an internet marketing company; and pestnet.com, an authority on everything pest control related.  None of these businesses will be the next hot tech IPO, but they are all great, profitable, entrepreneurial ventures where I can be creative and solve pain in the market.

When I think of entrepreneurs and their mindset the following attributes come to mind:

  • Problem solver
  • Innovative
  • Visionary
  • Creative
  • Leadership
  • Brave/Courageous
  • Hard working
  • Smart
  • Embraces the Risk/Reward tradeoff
  • Optimistic

True entrepreneurs apply these talents and mindsets in many types of businesses and industries— this is the essence of entrepreneurship.  The business itself could really be anything: it could be the hot, venture-backed tech company in Silicon Valley, but it also could be starting a small bootstrapped retail store, running a franchise location, managing an intrepreneurial project at a big company, taking over the family business, taking a traditional brick and mortar business online, or buying a small business.  Most of the entrepreneurship in the US happens at small obscure companies on every street corner across the country. These ventures may never make the owners wealthy, but this entrepreneurial spirit is one of the things that drive our economy and make our country great.

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