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Legion. An amalgamated journal.

Entrepreneurship first and foremost

‘Entrepreneurship’ is a fashionable thing nowadays, but it’s often forgotten that ‘entrepreneurship’ as an aim unto itself is vaporous since ‘entrepreneurship’, on its own, is immaterial. It’s an important conduit to making useful things happen, no doubt, but to call oneself an ‘entrepreneur’ is like a race-car driver calling himself a ‘steering-wheel-turner.’ It’s a big part of the process, but it’s not the item itself.

As such, I’ve always said that you can judge the probably success of a business by figuring out in which order the idea for the business and the idea of the business fall. If the idea for the business comes first, you’re likely to have something useful, and probably successful. By contrast, if the idea of a business comes first, and the idea for it is filial, you’re likely to have a major turd on your hands. In other terms, if the thought process goes “I have an excellent idea; let’s make a business of it!”, then success is likely though not guaranteed. If it goes “I would sure love to start a business; let’s think of some idea to capitalize on,” then the opposite is true.

Just about every Harvard student has recently been spammed with advertising for Summer Workation begging for votes in an entrepreneurship contest. A grand total of one news item from their front page has to do with the idea for the business (and an incomprehensibly jargony one at that):

We have leveraged our contacts in the field to conduct an initial needs assessment. Teachers seemed both enthusiastic and interested in the idea. Young teachers were particularly interested in international opportunities. This is promising news as we move forward.

… whereas every single other news item deals with the idea of the business, namely pleas for votes in the contest. Such blatant entrepreneurship-for-entrepreneurship’s-sake is something I wish smart young students would recognize well enough to avoid.

Garrett Dash Nelson

November 30th, 2008 at 8:08 pm