I was a guest listener yesterday at the youth entrepreneurship day, organized by the MIT forum at the Tel-Aviv university. Not sure they really got it. But for the few that did get the message – it was a good event. There were two hi-tech entrepreneurs and one social entrepreneur.
At a the break we chatted about the various entrepreneurship styles and my daughter asked me if artists and musicians are also considered entrepreneurs. I said without hesitation that I believe they are. Then she asked me, “So, how do you define entrepreneurship? What is it really?”
That’s when I realized that everybody, including the organizers, the speakers and the audience assumed they have the same definition of entrepreneurship. But they don’t. Even academic research is not on agreement on this term. This day should have opened with a discussion, engaging the 200 teenagers present, trying to define, receive and transmit, what is entrepreneurship?
I have a problem with this narrow dictionary definition, because it forces me to be a little liberal on the definition of “a business”. An artist spending his time and efforts creating a work of art, sometimes investing money in the purchase of materials and then having to think through marketing his work to make a living, is not less an entrepreneur then our regular hi-tech entrepreneur.
And so is the guy that invests time and sometimes money in making someone else’s life better: the social entrepreneur.
But frankly, what I see in entrepreneurship is much more fundamental then this. I see it as a way of life, a mode of thought. For me an entrepreneur is one that looks at problems through the possibilities to solve it.
Going to young people’s pre-financial era, their childhood, I can recognize entrepreneurial thinking at kids, from a very young age. Stories that may seem totally insignificant at one point may seem different after years. Like this girl who wanted to play with the red bucket that another child grabbed. She didn’t try to grab it back. She simply convinced the other kid that the blue bucket is a lot nicer. Or the kid who, at school, suggested to the kids of the new immigrants, who speak Russian between themselves, to start teaching words to their Hebrew speaking class mates, bringing them all together. Or… think about Tom Sawyer and his solution to his fence painting problem.
Entrepreneurship is all around us really. Some people have the natural tendency to think like an entrepreneur, other may need to learn this way of thinking. We might not all become great hi-tech millionaires as a result, but what we do take, is control over our lives.