Blurring of an Entrepreneur

19 02 2008

I’m reading Muhammed Yunus’ book about Creating a World Without Poverty. Astounding, inspiring stuff regarding Yunus’ work.

A common thread in Yunus’ work with Grameen is the belief that entrepreneurial energy exists in every human being. By no means is this is a dismissal of the traditional job, rather it’s a hopeful message that every human being has that creative energy within. It only needs to be unlocked properly. The sheer number of success stories of lifting people out of poverty shows that Yunus might possibly, just possibly onto something here. It’s no accident.

In the developing world, this generally takes the shape of having no other choice than having to find some way to make enough money to feed, clothe and shelter you and your family. Visit a developing country, flea market, or even Chinatown in the US and you’ll see this energy at work.

In the US and Silicon Valley too, some great innovations came from “filling the time” – a luxury only borne of developed nations, but analogous nonetheless. Six Apart is probably the best known company that was borne of two programmers with nothing better to do, laid off from the dotcom bust.

So if the poorest of the poor, the most desolate of desolate can be entrepreneurial… why do we still think that entrepreneurs are born with the special gift?

Just stop for a second and think: is this crown prince theory just an excuse? Yes, I think it is. I believe in natural talent just as much as the next guy. But in today’s day and age, I do believe that if you don’t unlock your entrepreneurial talent, you’re wasting something.

Being a traditional “risk it all” entrepreneur is wrought with stress and horror, it bears repeating that I’m not sure it’s always the smartest route. I don’t really advocate this route with much passion.

Big companies can do a lot to act entrepreneurial. The best do this simply by removing the unnecessary constraints, while keeping the necessary constraints. Now you are part of a smart, resource-heavy organization. Sometimes working within the system can be the best, smartest option.

I do advocate a more general entrepreneurial spirit. The system or someone isn’t allowing you to do what you want and know in your heart is possible: screw the system, do it yourself. That’s what it’s about.

Yunus writes of social businesses, those removed of the profit motive able to utilize the efficiencies of the capitalist system. Competition breeds innovation – and the production of something better. Capitalism is a beautiful system, and all these thought leaders are continuing to make it better.

Not having a boss is an asinine benefit of entrepreneurship. You answer to someone always. Being able to unlock your creative energy without unproductive, arbitrary constraints is the best gift of entrepreneurship. That’s the base joy of it.

Every day, I’m on the look out for entrepreneurial types that I may work with in the future. For the really smart guys, you’ve got a lot of choices: start your own company, work for other smart people, academia. I think that’s a great thing. But if you’re an “entrepreneurial type” and want to work with others on the same mission, you’ll know the best way to find me and I hope you do ;-).

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