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The entrepreneur is a factor in microeconomics, and the study of entrepreneurship reaches back to the work of Richard Cantillon and Adam Smith in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, but was largely ignored theoretically until the late 19th and early 20th centuries and empirically until a profound resurgence in business and economics in the last 40 years.
In the 20th century, the understanding of entrepreneurship owes much to the work of economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s and other Austrian economists such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek. In Schumpeter, an entrepreneur is a person who is willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation. Entrepreneurship employs what Schumpeter called "the gale of creative destruction" to replace in whole or in part inferior innovations across markets and industries, simultaneously creating new products including new business models. In this way, creative destruction is largely responsible for the dynamism of industries and long-run economic growth. The supposition that entrepreneurship leads to economic growth is an interpretation of the residual in endogenous growth theory and as such is hotly debated in academic economics. An alternate description posited by Israel Kirzner suggests that the majority of innovations may be much more incremental improvements such as the replacement of paper with plastic in the construction of a drinking straw.
For Schumpeter, entrepreneurship resulted in new industries but also in new combinations of currently existing inputs. Schumpeter's initial example of this was the combination of a steam engine and then current wagon making technologies to produce the horseless carriage. In this case the innovation, the car, was transformational but did not require the development of a new technology, merely the application of existing technologies in a novel manner. It did not immediately replace the horsedrawn carriage, but in time, incremental improvements which reduced the cost and improved the technology led to the complete practical replacement of beast drawn vehicles in modern transportation. Despite Schumpeter's early 20th-century contributions, traditional microeconomic theory did not formally consider the entrepreneur in its theoretical frameworks (instead assuming that resources would find each other through a price system). In this treatment the entrepreneur was an implied but unspecified actor, but it is consistent with the concept of the entrepreneur being the agent of x-efficiency.
Different scholars have described entrepreneurs as, among other things, bearing risk. For Schumpeter, the entrepreneur did not bear risk: the capitalist did.
For Frank H. Knight (1921) and Peter Drucker (1970) entrepreneurship is about taking risk. The behavior of the entrepreneur reflects a kind of person willing to put his or her career and financial security on the line and take risks in the name of an idea, spending much time as well as capital on an uncertain venture. Knight classified three types of uncertainty.
- Risk, which is measurable statistically (such as the probability of drawing a red color ball from a jar containing 5 red balls and 5 white balls).
- Ambiguity, which is hard to measure statistically (such as the probability of drawing a red ball from a jar containing 5 red balls but with an unknown number of white balls).
- True Uncertainty or Knightian Uncertainty, which is impossible to estimate or predict statistically (such as the probability of drawing a red ball from a jar whose number of red balls is unknown as well as the number of other colored balls).
The acts of entrepreneurship are often associated with true uncertainty, particularly when it involves bringing something really novel to the world, whose market never exists. However, even if a market already exists, there is no guarantee that a market exists for a particular new player in the cola category.
The place of the disharmony-creating and idiosyncratic entrepreneur in traditional economic theory (which describes many efficiency-based ratios assuming uniform outputs) presents theoretic quandaries. William Baumol has added greatly to this area of economic theory and was recently honored for it at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Economic Association.
The entrepreneur is widely regarded as an integral player in the business culture of American life, and particularly as an engine for job creation and economic growth. Robert Sobel published The Entrepreneurs: Explorations Within the American Business Tradition in 1974. Zoltan Acs and David Audretsch have produced an edited volume surveying Entrepreneurship as an academic field of research, and more than a hundred scholars around the world track entrepreneurial activity, policy and social influences as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and its associated reports.
Characteristics of an entrepreneur
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Entrepreneurs have many of the same character traits as leaders, similar to the early great man theories of leadership; however trait-based theories of entrepreneurship are increasingly being called into question. Entrepreneurs are often contrasted with managers and administrators who are said to be more methodical and less prone to risk-taking. Such person-centric models of entrepreneurship have shown to be of questionable validity, not least as many real-life entrepreneurs operate in teams rather than as single individuals. Still, a vast literature studying the entrepreneurial personality found that certain traits seem to be associated with entrepreneurs:
- David McClelland - primarily motivated by an overwhelming need for achievement and strong urge to build.
- Collins and Moore - tough, pragmatic people driven by needs of independence and achievement. They seldom are willing to submit to authority.
- Bird - mercurial, that is, prone to insights, brainstorms, deceptions, ingeniousness and resourcefulness. they are cunning, opportunistic, creative, and unsentimental.
- Cooper, Woo, & Dunkelberg - argue that entrepreneurs exhibit extreme optimism in their decision-making processes.
- Busenitz and Barney - prone to overconfidence and over generalizations.
- Cole - found there are four types of entrepreneur: the innovator, the calculating inventor, the over-optimistic promoter, and the organization builder. These types are not related to the personality but to the type of opportunity the entrepreneur faces.
- John Howkins - focused specifically on creative entrepreneurship. He found that entrepreneurs in the creative industries needed a specific set of traits including the ability to prioritise ideas over data, to be nomadic and to learn endlessly.
It has assumed super importance for accelerating economic growth both in developed and developing countries. It promotes capital formation and creates wealth in country. It is hope and dreams of millions of individuals around the world. It reduces unemployment and poverty and it is a pathway to prosper. Entrepreneurship is the process of exploring the opportunities in the market place and arranging resources required to exploit these opportunities for long term gain. It is the process of planning, organising, opportunities and assuming. Thus it is a risk of business enterprise. It may be distinguished as an ability to take risk independently to make utmost earnings in the market. It is a creative and innovative skill and adapting response to environment.
Given entrepreneurship's potential to support economic growth, it is the policy goal of many governments to develop a culture of entrepreneurial thinking. This can be done in a number of ways: by integrating entrepreneurship into education systems, legislating to encourage risk-taking, and national campaigns. An example of the latter is the United Kingdom's Enterprise Week, which launched in 2004.
Outside of the political world, research has been conducted on the presence of entrepreneurial theories in doctoral economics programs. Dan Johansson, fellow at the Ratio Institute in Sweden, finds such content to be sparse. He fears this will dilute doctoral programs and fail to train young economists to analyze problems in a relevant way.
Many of these initiatives have been brought together under the umbrella of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide celebration and promotion of youth entrepreneurship, which started in 2008.
Financial bootstrapping is a term used to cover different methods for avoiding using the financial resources of external investors. Bootstrapping can be defined as “a collection of methods used to minimize the amount of outside debt and equity financing needed from banks and investors”. The use of private credit card debt is the most known form of bootstrapping, but a wide variety of methods are available for entrepreneurs. While bootstrapping involves a risk for the founders, the absence of any other stakeholder gives the founders more freedom to develop the company. Many successful companies including Dell Computers and Facebook were founded this way.
There are different types of bootstrapping:
- Owner financing
- Sweat equity
- Minimization of the accounts receivable
- Joint utilization
- Delaying payment
- Minimizing inventory
- Subsidy finance
- Personal Debt
Many businesses need more capital than can be provided by the owners themselves, and in this case a range of options are available including:
- Angel Investors
- Venture capital investors.
- Crowd funding
- Hedge Funds
- Alternative Asset Management
Some of these source provide not only funds, but also financial oversight, accountability for carrying out tasks and meeting milestones, and in some cases business contacts and experience - in many cases in return for an equity stake.