We live in a changing world. This is true in our personal lives and it is certainly true in the world of work and business.
Powerful forces lie outside the control of any one individual – forces such as global warming, global competition, the rise of China as the world’s new centre for manufacturing, increasing energy costs, the spread of ghastly epidemics like AIDS and bird flu. These affect us all locally, in different ways. For some, change is deeply disturbing, while for other it represents opportunities.
In the past, our jobs and the economy were influenced by large, important, national corporations and public organisations which, generally, did not like too much change. Now, the business world has embraced change and words like 'innovation', 'sustainability' and 'entrepreneurship' increasingly appear in the media, at work and even in the classroom. And while the entrepreneurs used to be seen as chancers or people "on the make" (just think of Del Boy and Arthur Daley), now they are hailed as the new saviours of our economy.
But what is an entrepreneur? There are many different definitions but, essentially, an entrepreneur is a person who can make things happen - someone who can turn an idea into a new product or service, and convince enough people to hand over their hard-earned money in exchange for whatever they have to offer. However, to benefit the rest of us, an entrepreneur must also be someone who can start and run a successful and sustainable business that employs other people and adds value to the local community.
What then is a successful, innovative and sustainable business? Success can be defined in terms of attaining your business goals and/or your more personal objectives. Most successful new businesses employ some innovation such as a new development in product, process, service, way of organisation, form of marketing, and so on. But some temporary competitive advantage probably will not sustain long-term business survival, or profitability. That requires a mid to long-term time planning horizon and, in all probability, an awareness of broader issues, such as the ethical and ecological issues of today’s business environment.
If you think you may have what it takes, try our ten things to consider - ten key questions to test you and your ideas to see if you could be a success. Then, if you would like to find out more explore the books and weblinks for more information, and perhaps see if there's a course that might be suitable to help you turn your enthusiasm into entrepreneurial success.
The first question: Are you an entrepreneur?
About this article
This article is based on materials from the Open University course Developing Entrepreneurial Ideas and The Manager's Good Study Guide, The Open University, 2004.