Institutional America has knocked the start out of us. We need to get back to being great at starting things in our country. Calling all entrepreneurs. This means you. Yes, you. In talking with some of the most entrepreneurial people on the planet I am surprised by how many don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs. When did that happen? Our economic history is all about starting stuff but we have gotten away from our entrepreneurial heritage. We need a national entrepreneurship movement. Maybe if we started by enabling more people to be entrepreneurial we would have more entrepreneurs.
When did we reserve the entrepreneur moniker solely for technology ventures started by iconic college dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg? I know we all love a good company origin story but by elevating these stories to mythical proportions aren’t we placing entrepreneurship out of reach for the rest of us mere mortals.
It has never been easier to be an entrepreneur. Capabilities once accessible only to a few large organizations with deep pockets are now within reach of everyone, organizations and individuals alike. Think about it, five years ago it was inconceivable for an individual or start up to access marketing and distribution channels, back office communication and transaction infrastructure, and a global network of potential collaborators and customers. Now these capabilities and many more are waiting in the cloud at little to no cost. Barriers to entry are so Industrial Era!
Sometimes you have to be hit right between the eyes by a two-by-four before something hits home. It’s during a visit home by our entrepreneurial daughter, that I realized just how easy entrepreneurship has become. In casual conversation our daughter dropped that she has taken up a new hobby. “Dad, I’m learning how to make jewelry. I signed up at a local co-op where I can take classes, access materials and tools, and even borrow them to work at home. I like making things.” I can’t remember exactly how I responded but I’m sure it came across as a perfunctory pat on the back and fatherly “that’s nice!” I didn’t pay much attention.
About fifteen minutes later a loud Cha-Ching emanates from Alyssa’s cell phone and I see her smile, one of those great big Cheshire Cat smiles. She proudly announces that she has sold her first piece of jewelry. Now she…