What is an entrepreneur? Where entrepreneurship started and how it affects the world around us.
It starts with a vision
With over 38,000 locations in over 100 countries, McDonald’s is the largest fast food chain in the world. If you look into how McDonald’s became so successful, the name that comes up time and time again is that of Ray Kroc.
Ray Kroc, an American businessman, was credited with the success and expansion of McDonald’s. However, did you know that he wasn’t actually the founder? In fact, Kroc purchased the fast food company in 1961, 21 years after it was founded by Dick and Mac McDonald.
Ray Kroc’s involvement in McDonald’s is significant in that it displays the difference between someone who starts or owns a business and someone with an ‘entrepreneurial spirit.’ While the McDonald brothers didn’t want to expand their restaurant across the country, Kroc saw an opportunity for profiting off the franchises. He used the immaculate design of one store to convince others to buy a franchise, gaining a percentage of the profit from each location.
The majority of entrepreneurs will fail at some point in their lifetime. The best entrepreneurs understand this, but are still willing to take the risk.
What is an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs have impacted the world and the economy for thousands of years. Without them, we wouldn’t have lightbulbs or iPhones. In modern day, it’s likely you either know an entrepreneur or are one yourself. But did you know the first entrepreneurs existed even before the invention of money? Although entrepreneurs are a common topic in society today, their history is not as well known.
An entrepreneur is someone who starts or operates their own business. When one or more entrepreneurs create a new business, it’s often called a ‘start-up,’ which refers to a business in its early stages. Additionally, the process of starting one’s own business is called ‘entrepreneurship.’
As many workplaces continue shifting towards remote and hybrid work, and employees are realizing the constraints of a typical 9-5 work day, entrepreneurship has become a desired career path for many. With the advance in technology, the prospect of becoming an entrepreneur is more attainable than at any other time in history.
The first entrepreneurs
Believe it or not, entrepreneurship is not a new concept. Even though it has grown significantly in the past 50 years, the history of entrepreneurs goes back farther than most people realize. In fact, the first entrepreneurs were traders and merchants and lived nearly 20,000 years.
Around 17,000 BCE, before people began starting businesses to make money, they traded valuable goods to benefit their families and communities. These entrepreneurs were bartering before money was even invented. But, despite these differences, what they had in common with many entrepreneurs today is how they worked to improve the quality of life for their community.
Over the years, the role of entrepreneurs has changed and grown significantly. As inventions and innovations came to be viewed in a more positive light, the work of entrepreneurs began to be celebrated throughout the world.
How entrepreneurs affect the economy
Creating a product and selling it isn’t the only job of an entrepreneur. They also move forward with the times and anticipate the needs of the market they’re in. Think of the changes that took place during the Digital Revolution alone. The shift from mechanical technology to digital technology started in the late twentieth century, and in less than a hundred years, both individuals and businesses went from not knowing what the internet was to becoming completely dependent on it. These advancements in technology were only possible because of entrepreneurs such as Marc Andreessen, one of the creators of Mosaic, the first widely used internet browser.
Entrepreneurship is an effective way of problem-solving and improving societies, especially in developing countries. In countries across the world, the work of entrepreneurs is celebrated because of their contributions to the economy. With the creation of new products and businesses, entrepreneurs bring about new jobs and opportunities. They make use of the resources available to them and use these resources to create products to better the world.
The innovation brought on by entrepreneurs is what pushes society forward. It can bring economic growth, social change, and improve existing products and businesses.
Where did the word entrepreneur come from?
You might be wondering where the word entrepreneur came from. Even though the first entrepreneurs were traders and merchants thousands of years ago, they weren’t recognized as such at the time.
The word first appeared in the French dictionary in 1723. Entrepreneur comes from the French word entreprendre, which means ‘to do something or undertake.’ The word was first used academically in the 1700s to describe someone who undertakes the financial risk of a business venture.
Economists Jean-Baptist Say and John Stuart Mill both used the term, entrepreneur, in the early 1800s. In his 1848 book, Principles of Political Economy, economist John Stuart Mill used the word to refer to someone who takes on both the risk and management of a business.
What has influenced the role of entrepreneurs?
Considering the first known entrepreneurs were traders and merchants, many things have changed since the first evidence of entrepreneurship. While we talk about how things have changed over thousands of years, the reality is that some of the most drastic changes occurred over the past hundred years.
A big part of these drastic changes is the increased development and use of technology. In fact, at least 3 technology revolutions have occurred just since the early 2000s. These include the rise of broadband connections, mobile connectivity, and the rise of social media. With the growth of technology, more opportunities were available for entrepreneurs than ever before.
Throughout history, there have been several events that greatly influenced the development of entrepreneurship. Two of the major influences were the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. As markets continued to change throughout history, there was room for growth in business and products.
The risk of entrepreneurs
Being an entrepreneur has been romanticized in modern times. But business ventures can be challenging to take on, and they’re not all success stories. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, 90% of start-ups fail. The person who starts a business often takes on all of the potential risks if the business fails.
When the first entrepreneurs traded goods as far back as 17,000 BCE, the process may have been a bit simpler. Nowadays, an entrepreneur puts both their finances and their reputation on the line when starting a new business endeavor.
Careful planning is important for entrepreneurs since trends often change quickly, and even technological changes can be unpredictable. But despite from these risks, many people strive to be entrepreneurs because of the independence involved.
As trends in the workplace have shifted towards more remote work and flexible schedules, business-savvy people have come up with profitable ideas to be able to work for themselves.
Entrepreneurs in the modern world
The history of entrepreneurs goes back thousands of years, but entrepreneurship in the modern world is still evolving. Development in technology has created more opportunities for entrepreneurs. With modern technology, business owners can spread information with the click of a button.
Many of the obstacles entrepreneurs used to face were removed with the rise of the internet. One example is the availability of advertising at a relatively low cost, or sometimes at no cost, to the entrepreneur. Even the rise of social media has helped entrepreneurs share the message of their business quicker than ever before.
In previous decades, entrepreneurs had to rely on brick-and-mortar stores for their business. But now they’re able to work and sell their products from anywhere. With all of the challenges we face in today’s world, it is often entrepreneurs who step up to the plate with their problem-solving skills.