The Resurgence of the Entrepreneur
A couple of hundred years ago, entrepreneurs were at the forefront of the biggest societal and cultural shifts the world has even seen. In the United Kingdom, inventors and ideas men came up with the technology and machines at the heart of the industrial revolution. Around the same time, intrepid explorers and frontiersmen travelled west across America in search of fortune, laying the foundations for the most powerful country in the world. The very idea of the American Dream is one of entrepreneurship, of the self-made man succeeding in the land of the free. If entrepreneurship hadn’t been the beating heart of both the United States and Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries, the world would be a very different place.
However, at some point the United Kingdom lost its way. While the American Dream and entrepreneurship remained core values in the United States, in the post war period in the UK the idea of the entrepreneur changed.
This time next year we’ll be millionaires
For a time if someone described themselves as an entrepreneur, you wouldn’t think of a thought leading businessman, you’d think of a dodgy salesman – a Del Boy. In post war Britain people began to aspire to a position behind a desk as part of a big company, where you were well looked after and there was little in the way of surprise. The entrepreneur was seen as someone outside of this system, ducking and diving their way through life on the back of a half formed idea and generous amounts of street savvy. Fortunately – things are starting to change.
Today, thanks to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs the idea of the entrepreneur, the self-made businessman, is back in vogue. The internet has given rise to a new generation of dotcom billionaires who are inspiring people everywhere to take an idea and run with it. But why does entrepreneurship resonate so strongly with people today?
The banking crisis of 2008 changed people’s perceptions of big business. For decades, people had “bought in” to the idea of big businesses, wanting to work as a cog in a well-oiled machine and benefit from the job security and good pay that it offered. Suddenly with the banking crisis that illusion of security was shattered. Overnight, everyone was in the same situation as the entrepreneur, uncertain of what the future held and relying on themselves and their own intelligence to make the most of a bad situation.
This sentiment of no longer “buying in” to a traditional way of doing things has been reiterated more recently by Brexit and the Trump presidency, both of which are viewed by many political commentators as votes against the status quo, and a desire for something different. The idea of the entrepreneur encapsulates this. An entrepreneur operates outside of the establishment, with unique and new ideas that challenge the way things have always been done. In this age of not trusting the establishment, it makes sense that people will flock to the entrepreneurs and their fresh ways of thinking.
The importance of the internet
Another reason entrepreneurship is growing in popularity is because it’s easier than ever before to do. The internet gives people access to a global market of skilled freelancers who can help them to get their idea up and running. Whereas once upon a time and entrepreneur had to be able to do everything themselves, today the entrepreneur is most successful when they function solely as the ideas engine. They come up with the ideas, and they direct the business. The skilled work is outsourced around the world to the best people for the job. This is important as it allows people who always had a great idea but thought it would never be possible, to get that idea up and running and get their product or service out and into the market. As time goes on and technology advances further this process will only become more and more apparent. We will become a network of entrepreneurs, CEO’s of our own companies providing the services we are best at, interlinking with other like-minded businessmen doing the same thing. It’s an exciting time for business and something I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on.
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