Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Game of the Day: Define this Word

Last week I wrote a little about myself and where we’re headed this semester. This week I’d like to plunge into a discussion on the theme of the eClips site: entrepreneurship.

First, you might want to check out the podcast entitled Entrepreneurs: Born or Made?

I’ve always found it interesting to read various perspectives of entrepreneurship and how people define the word "entrepreneur". To be honest, the term is hard to pin down; it seems to be surrounded by multiple meanings, which give it an almost mystical aura. Yet, ask almost anyone you meet and they will most likely have some kind of understanding of the word. Here in the U.S., the entrepreneurial spirit can be seen everywhere—from the local bakery to search engine giant Google. The ability to become an entrepreneur is a freedom Americans take much pride in. We all love the classic “rags to riches” tale and uphold the virtue of equality of opportunity. But what is the actual definition of the word?

The word “entrepreneur” can be traced back to the 13th century in which it first appeared in the form of the French word entreprende— which literally means: to undertake. Nowadays most economists and experts in the field agree upon some kind of variation of the following:

An entrepreneur is a person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognized value around perceived opportunities.

Nevertheless, entrepreneurs rarely have this definition in mind when they start up their businesses. In fact, there is a wide range of reasons why individuals choose to become entrepreneurs. Some entrepreneurs start up ventures for purely financial reasons hoping to “make it big.” Others do it because they like innovating and creating solutions to societal problems. Still others become entrepreneurs for the “coolness factor.” When asked by Forbes magazine how he likes being the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg responded, “I don't care about being a CEO and I never really have. I don't even care about running a company—I just want to build cool things.”

A great way to explore what people think about entrepreneurship is to check out the eClips themes on "Defining An Entrepreneur":

Defining Entrepreneur As Being Your Own Boss
Defining Entrepreneur As Creative, Adaptable and Flexible
Defining Entrepreneur As Creator, Builder and Visionary
Defining Entrepreneur As One Who Takes Ownership and Control
Defining Entrepreneur As Opportunity Finder
Defining Entrepreneur As Passionate and Determined
Defining Entrepreneur As Risk Taker
Defining Entrepreneur As Set of Skills - Not A Career

Entrepreneurship is something that anyone can get involved with, but examining your goals, motives and ambitions is a task that each entrepreneur should do at some point. So what’s your definition of the entrepreneur? And why would you become one?

Allen Miller
akm64@cornell.edu

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