IS AMERICAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP OVERSOLD?
Article Published by: easttennessian.com
America has long been known as a land of opportunity. Our shores have attracted countless immigrants with the hope that, here, they could make their own lives.
Married to the idea of opportunity is that of the entrepreneur, which corporate finance major Nathan Boccarossa aptly defines as “an individual who takes it upon himself to create and produce a good or service in an innovative fashion.”
As a classic hallmark of Americanism, entrepreneurship is usually second nature when we talk about making big bucks. However, as America inches more politically liberal, the notion of an individual’s labor, innovation and reward is slowly falling out of favor, along with the golden picture of the successful entrepreneur.
There are, after all, other forms of attaining wealth. Some achieve a fortune through investing, which is similar to entrepreneurship in some ways. The most common alternative may be getting a respectable education. Others options may include working the way up the company ladder or perhaps the prospect of inheriting or marrying into money. Considering the various other mediums for getting rich, maybe our idealistic picture is a little oversold.
However, in evaluating the place entrepreneurship holds in our minds, we should also consider its influence on the rest of society. As we do this, we come to see that our image of the entrepreneur is not exaggerated. For example, Bill Gates is well known one as of the wealthiest men in the world for creating Microsoft. His invention not only benefited himself but changed the world forever.
Others have achieved entrepreneurship fame too, long before today. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Henry Ford’s company landed him a net worth of $200 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation) – another product that would change the world forever. Likewise, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone made him very wealthy, and nothing was ever the same again.
Thus, personal income cannot be considered the only good reason to set entrepreneurship on a pedestal – it advances everyone.
Another reason we think about entrepreneurs the way we do is that for them, it may not be about the money anyway – but about a dream. In his talk at the RSA, Dan Pink described how an individual’s purpose can be its own motivation, referencing the founder of Skype, stating, “Our goal is to be disruptive but in the cause of making the world a better place.” He also quoted Steve Jobs saying, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” These are non-monetary, idealistic goals – things that, as Pink said, get you up in the morning.
The other ways of making money work for many people, but they often lack the element of innovation, which is essential for society to progress. For that to happen, we need new ideas, devices and processes. The quality of life in the world has advanced because American entrepreneurship gave birth to the Model T, airplanes, telephones, Microsoft and many other business ventures.
America is known for many successes, not the least of which is her global leadership in technological innovation. These men have transformed how the world functions.
Not all of us need to be Tyler Jones, carrying his American flag around campus, but let’s take pride in our country and help realize her picture of entrepreneurship, thus improving our lives and those of every nation.
About Scott Livengood
Scott Livengood is the owner and CEO of Dewey’s Bakery, Inc., a commercial wholesale bakery with a respected national brand of ultra premium cookies and crackers.
Previously, Scott worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for 27 years, starting as a trainee in 1977. He was appointed President of the company in 1992, then CEO and Chairman of the Board.
Scott has served on numerous boards including the Carter Center, the Calloway School of Business and the Babcock School of Management, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
He started a new business, StoryWork International, in 2016 with Richard Stone. The signature achievement to date is LivingStories, a story-based program for improved patient experiences and outcomes in partnership with Novant Health.