At the heart of economic progress are entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is someone who starts up a business by creating a new product of service that someone else wants to buy.
Entrepreneurship involves high levels of creativity and innovation, and is not without considerable risk. Converting a great idea into a physical prototype or beta version of a service requires managerial skills, lots of time and lots of energy. It can also require a solid approach to patenting a product. Entrepreneurs have to interact with governments, potential investors and lenders, patent attorneys, as well as identifying, recruiting and driving high performing staff.
Joseph Schumpeter was amongst the first to conceptualise entrepreneurship. He drew a clear distinction between inventions and innovations, noting entrepreneurs not only invented but also included new means of production, new products and services as well as new forms of organisation.
Today we can see this in the business models of firms as different as Amazon, Google and Facebook. In the past, innovation in production led to mass production assembly lines, lean manufacturing, and, more recently, mass customisation of industrial and consumer products. Innovation in customer service is now increasingly blurring the boundaries between producer and consumer, as some information sevrices are crown sourced, and businesses operate platforms that simply facilitate social interaction on defined topics. The consumers develop and drive the content. Innovation in the service and knowledge economies is becoming increasingly important.
However, new ideas, methods and products/services are also accompanied by high levels of risk. So the rewards need to be significant. Not all innovators capture the rewards. Entrepreneurs have to address risk, ambiguity and uncertainty in order to be successful. They employ a wide range of strategies including: continuous improvement methods, application of technology; use of business analytics/intelligence; frugal/lean approaches; optimised talent management and development of leading edge/future oriented products and services.
Is the role of entrepreneurship critical to economic growth or does public policy in many countries overemphasis it at the extpense of improving the productivity and efficiency of existing industries? What do you think?
This Micro Brief is part of an ongoing series provided as a general public information service. These concepts underpin modern economic analysis. Find out more about smarter capital investment decisions using economics at http://www.lyttonadvisory.com.au.