Posted by: Martin Fox | June 23, 2008

Entrepreneurship – what is it really?

By Martin Fox with The Center for Global Leadership and The Higher Road Initiative.

A friend of mine, a medical researcher of some renown, sent me an article this morning. The article by Paula Wasley, highlighted the discussion on college and university campuses regarding just how far entrepreneurship classes should be allowed to weave themselves into core curriculum (one of the fastest growing classes on college campuses – now taught on over 2,000 campuses versus 250 in 1985).Not everyone welcomes the inclusion of entrepreneurship on college campuses. According to one journalist who was interveiwed, “I have serious doubts about whether this is a wise use of the rather limted time that young people spend in higher education. There’s so much to learn about the world that picking up the tricks of entrepreneurship should not be given a high priority.

Hmm, the “tricks of entrepreneurship”. While the journalist is certainly entitled to his opinion, I sense he is defining “tricks of entrepreneurship” in very narrow terms (i.e. business school version). What is an entrepreneur after all, if not a pioneer and agent for change? Entrepreneurship spans just about every facet of life, it’s not just about business entrepreneurs.

Let’s take a look at just a few people I would define as entrepreneurs… Mother Teresa (social entrepreneur), Jane Goodall (environmental entrepreneur), Mahatma Gandhi (political entrepreneur), Bono (musical and social entrepreneur). In my opinion, these are just a few of the world’s entrepreneurs, true pioneers and catalysts for change. Individually, we could name thousands of people like this, collectively, we could name millions.

When I think of the best entrepreneurs I know personally, they each have some things in common. They are creative, they are passionate, they have clear visions, they know their purpose in life, and they are comfortable blazing the trails for others to follow. Yes, they also understand basic business fundamentals, core management skills, and they have varying levels of leadership competencies. That written, those fundamentals, skills, and competencies are secondary tools.

Let me repeat that – “business, management, and leadership are secondary skills, enablers if you will”. It is creativity, innovation, passion, clear vision, and purpose that make you an entrepreneur. Case in point, the business world is filled with managers and leaders with highly developed business, management, and leadership skills, managers and leaders who are not entrepreneurs by anyone’s definition – including their own.

Well, there you have it. Just another humble opinion from Martin Fox with the Center for Global Leadership and The Higher Road Initiative (building a global network of entrepreneurs and fostering global cohesion). Okay, we are a bit biased on the entrepreneurship front.

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