Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Is an Entrepreneur?

I have a question for you: What is an entrepreneur? 

And don’t worry … this isn’t a pop quiz. One of these days, I’ll spring a pop quiz on you, but today’s not the day. Always be prepared, though.

Let’s get back to my question …

What is an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneur: man, I love that word. (Cue the chorus of hallelujahs.) It’s so majestic. It just rolls of the tongue: entrepreneur. Please take a second to say that word out loud. Awesome, right?

Anyway, the classic definition of an entrepreneur is someone who starts his own business. And last weekend, I learned that a French economist named Jean-Baptiste Say first coined the phrase “entrepreneur.” Jean-Baptiste (we’re on a first names basis) lived from 1767 to 1832 and lived thru the French Revolution.

So what is an entrepreneur according to Jean-Baptiste? He says it’s someone who takes resources from a lower level to a higher level of productivity.

That’s different from someone who starts a business, isn’t it? I haven’t lived thru the French Revolution, and I don’t have a hyphenated first name, but I’m quite positive that Jean-Baptiste’s original definition is not the same as the classic definition. It’s not the same thing.

Your mind is probably spinning at this point. Questions must be going off like wildfire in your head. Is this true? Has the definition of entrepreneur really changed over time? If this is true, what else is true? Is the world really flat? Does Santa Clause exist?

Calm down. We can get through this together.

Now I’ve always thought of myself as an entrepreneur in the classic sense, but now that I know about Jean-Baptiste, it occurs to me that everyone out there could be an entrepreneur. You don’t have to start your own business. Everyone out there has resources, and everyone out there has the license to bring those resources to a higher level of productivity.

I think that deserves a full on “HALLELUJAH!”

Now, this might scare some people because if you are an entrepreneur, you have a degree of responsibility for using the resources at your disposal wisely. And truth be told, elevating resources to a higher level is a great responsibility. Some people would rather keep their head down and just punch in and out without trying for anything more.

But today, I challenge you to imagine what the world would be like if we were all entrepreneurs working at the highest level of productivity. I just got chills. I’m writing this outside in the snow so that could be the reason for the chills, but still … it would be an amazing thing and we would reach new levels that this world hasn’t seen.

So think about what goes on during your day. And when something is bugging you, ask “What is an entrepreneur, and what would he or she do?” And then start talking about the problem or solution. Talk with your supervisor, tell your friend, tell your significant other. Shine a light on it and start looking for solutions. That’s the only way to make it better, to be more productive. The very thought process of you looking for these opportunities will make you perform better. Got it, people? I mean … entrepreneurs.

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