The Positive Power of Entrepreneurship
By Dustin Paisley
There’s a common misconception around Entrepreneurship. I’ve heard it defined in so many ways, and too often I’ll hear that an entrepreneur is simply someone that runs a business. My stomach churns every time I hear this. This could not be more wrong. Although someone that starts a business may be considered an entrepreneur, entrepreneurship is so much more than this. Entrepreneurship is a powerful thing that when done properly, can have a profound effect on the world. Look at Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mohammed Yunnis, Mark Zuckerberg, or Travis Kalunick as examples – as entrepreneurs; they literally changed the world around them.
The way I see it, entrepreneurship is about creating value. It’s not about exploiting profits. There’s a vast difference between entrepreneurship and capitalism. Entrepreneurs are game changers, trail blazers – they shake things up, invent stuff, create new ways of doing things – plain and simple, they see a problem and they solve it, changing the status quo as they go along. Steve Jobs didn’t start Apple as a way to earn a bunch of money, he had a passion for computers and wanted to make them better. Elon Musk started Space X because he wants to go to space, and Mohammed Yunus started Grameen Bank to empower those living in poverty through micro-loans, loans that would not be granted by any other bank. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook because he saw the internet as a way to better connect with those around you, and Travis Kalunick started Uber as a way to disrupt, what he saw as, a very broken transportation industry.
All of these individuals saw an opportunity – to disrupt, to create, to change, to empower, and to create value out of a problem that was yet to be solved. One of my favorite stories of Mark Zuckerberg in the early Facebook days was that his first trip to Silicon Valley, Mark spent the taxi ride staring out the window at the large corporations, like Microsoft, thinking that one day he would start a company like that. In his eyes, Facebook was not a company, it was simply a solution to something that didn’t exist – a project, a website, a platform – it was cool. This is entrepreneurship. It’s not creating companies to make money, it’s starting projects to solve problems. If your project just so happens to solve a problem, then money will come and companies are formed, but until then, entrepreneurship is simply about creating value.
Too often we look at the outliers as the norm, but being entrepreneurial is something everyone is capable of. There’s a term often used at Mount Royal University called Intrepreneurship, which means that rather than going out and starting your own company or venture, you’re working inside a company and bringing those same traits to your current job. You may not be a founder, or CEO, but even as a Project Manager, Director, or entry level sales person, you can be entrepreneurial and find ways to change things, to make improvements, and to create value. Don’t be discouraged by a word that many find daunting. Entrepreneurship is simply a mindset, where you see problems, not as challenges, but as opportunities.
So next time you find yourself faced with a problem or hear someone else complaining about one of theirs, stop and think. How significant is this problem, do others have this problem, and how can it be solved. When you start asking yourself these questions, you’re on your way to being an entrepreneur.