Overview – What Is Entrepreneurship?

“Entrepreneurship is a global phenomenon. The future to an even greater degree than the past, will be driven by innovation and entrepreneurship,” World Economic Forum. Additionally, Angel Cabrera, Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Entrepreneurship, notes “only by letting thousands and millions of entrepreneurs try new ideas, to innovate, to create businesses that put those ideas to work in a competitive and open way, only by doing those things are we going to be able to tackle some of the world’s big problems.”

Entrepreneurship has been a foundation to the American dream since the country was born. However, entrepreneurship gave way to the Agriculture and Industrial Revolutions that defined the American career to encompass a 40 hour work week and developing skills around a specific job in a specific company that operated in a specific market.

In the late 1970’s an economic shift began to occur in the U.S. as other countries began to produce products at a lower cost than known before. During the 1980’s the economic shift began to grow as communities started seeing manufacturing plants close and state’s fought each other over attracting new manufacturing plants. By the mid-1990’s a new wave of economic development began to emerge through the use of technology. Entrepreneurship started becoming an idea again, and many young businesses started to replace many of the traditional businesses on the Forbes 500 list.

By 2001, entrepreneurship began to show promise in the U.S. economy. However, many economists and political leaders remained skeptical about the impact of small business. After the studies from the 2001 recession recovery were completed, the data showed that small businesses were the cause of all the net new jobs during that time frame. Entrepreneurship is the reason for the 2001 recession recovery, yet skepticism still existed as to the long term sustainability of entrepreneurship activity on the economy.

Since 2001, additional studies from various sources have uncovered the critical need for innovation and entrepreneurship in any economy (especially in today’s global marketplace). Technology has changed the rules in business, and entrepreneurship has proven its flexibility is better suited to meet the changing global needs.

Entrepreneurship Defined

The World Economic Forum defines entrepreneurship in the following ways:

  • Entrepreneurs are those persons (business owners) who seek to generate value through the creation or expansion of economic activity, by identifying and exploiting new products, processes or markets.
  • Entrepreneurial activity is enterprising human action in pursuit of the generation of value through the creation or expansion of a business by generating economic activity.
  • Entrepreneurship is the phenomenon associated with entrepreneurial activity.

Meanwhile, others define entrepreneurship as “the process through which ventures are created” (Deb Markley, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship) and entrepreneurs as “a person who creates and grows a venture” (Jay Kayne, Miami University).

Additional Resources

Want a more in-depth look at why you’d want to start a business? Here’s a class from University of Virginia that answers that very question. Watch Why Start a Business

Still not sure? Take a look at Arkansas’s SourceLink’s resources to figure out if entrepreneurship is for you.

Want some research to back up the entrepreneurship phenomenon? Take a look at the work by the Kauffman Foundation.

Continue onto Types of Entrepreneurs and Stages of Growth