Until recently the term ‘entrepreneur’ usually referred to someone who had established a business and then expanded it successfully. But now that tough economic times mean a greater proportion of people are starting up from financial necessity rather than from innovative opportunity is the way we think of ‘entrepreneurship’ changing too?
I’ve read and heard the act of “establishing” a business on its own be described as ‘entrepreneurial’ without the following innovative “expansion” phase having taken place too. Can it be that possessing the seed of a business is confirmation of “entrepreneurship” before demonstrating the creativity and talent to successfully grow it too? If this is so, where have all the “self-employed” gone? These are the thousands of small traders not budging from the same business they were doing ten years ago and with no intention of growing it. We like to see them trade in our local communities over many years, often in the same premises for generations - same shop, same stuff, same staff. If we start describing these traders as “entrepreneurs” in the same way as we talk about innovative product and company developers then we will lose sight of both animals and lose the knowledge of how to feed either of them in tough economic times. Clear distinctions between the groups in research projects and discourse could be valuable for future growth. To help understand where the distinctions should be made I have launched a very short Entrepreneurship Survey to find out what business people think are the differences and similarities between the self-employed and entrepreneurial psyches.
The survey is very general in its scope because at this early stage I am only looking for suggestions for where the greatest differences between the two groups might show up. In the same way as the hill walker making their way down the track can tell you the right path to follow on your way up in order to avoid the cliffs I am hoping that by engaging the people already treading the path before me I can navigate my way to the essence of what “entrepreneur” means today without falling off the edge. I hope that you choose to take part and be one of the hill walkers for this survey. Tea and sandwiches provided en route...fine views from the top.
The results will guide my focus for follow-up surveys. To publish the results as quickly as possible I have limited the number of responses to 100 and the survey will close when that number is reached. I will relay updates on its progress here, on Facebook and on Twitter.
Thanks for reading and I hope you choose to join in.
Now, where did I put those hiking boots...?