From these findings, three significant points can be
drawn: a different view of entrepreneurship that is
somewhat at odds with contemporary literature and thought;
recognition of the rich rewards that can be attained from
purposeful corporate experience; and a need to reexamine
our current approach to entrepreneurial training.
New View of Entrepreneurship
The view of entrepreneurship presented here is somewhat at
odds with contemporary thought and literature. It is,
however, consistent with the early entrepreneurial theorist,
Joseph Schumpeter. In his interpretation startup,
founder, owner are not relevant terms. Founders are
important, but only through what they accomplish.
Entrepreneurs also include enterprising executives, who are
recognized because of accomplishment. This creates a
difference between small business people or lifestyle
"proprietors" and my "accomplishment"
entrepreneurs. This difference, then, might be a first test
criteria base to determine who entrepreneurs are, and whom they
are different from. If there indeed is a difference between
small business "proprietors" and entrepreneurs (which I
strongly suspect), valid studies could be made to show that
and what the specific differences truly are. If my classification has a validity, entrepreneurs would include some managers and leaders. Comparing managers, for example, to entrepreneurs would make little sense since they are both in the same domain. On the other hand, some "bottom fishing" will be necessary to determine where the line of demarcation exists between the two. In my study, I tried to stick with "mover and shaker" types to draw my behaviors--entrepreneurs that had or are having some impact on the economy's shape. Since I studied extremes, I'm not sure where that line of difference lies. That is, what's the extent of accomplishment that puts entrepreneurs into their class?
The Rewards of Corporate Experience
Nothing seems quite so obvious from my work as the importance of corporate experience in paving the way to entrepreneurship. It's true that life's experiences are helpful, as is knowledge acquisition in the usual waysschool, reading, observing, whatever. Nothing, however, is quite like total immersion in meaningful work experience. Being there and doing it seem to permeate the bones. It's multiplied many fold if that learning is intensely sought with a deep desire and need to know attitude, coupled with intelligent direction of where to go and what to seek that has special career meaning. The work environment not only provides the useful experience needed, it also exposes the rich opportunity fields that are available in fast moving companies in fast changing industries. Exposure to work and the working system provide a sense of the system--how it works, how those in it operate, how well they function. It's the theater where learners get a chance to be seen and tested and evaluated. Opportunity is provided to learn about a firm, an industry, developments, regulations, competitors, suppliers, resources, what's not being addressed.
Such experience and exposure provide a career launching pad
far superior to those who are uninitiated. It
provides a sense of career direction and measure of talent--and
offers high potential opportunities. Most of all, it
provides a practice field for the kinds of behaviors described
here, particularly if these types of behaviors are known in
advance: To test whether you can do them, whether you like
to do them, whether they fit your taste, or not. To know,
too, that satisfaction can be found in career pursuits other than
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Last Updated 03/15/98