Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Entrepreneurship: The New Tradition

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Entrepreneurship: The New Tradition

Article excerpt

To advance our economic development and preserve our Canadian standard of living, we need to create a new entrepreneurial culture where innovation and creativity are allowed to flourish. What's your level of commitment?

A prominent Toronto business figure was addressing a group of college students on Entrepreneurs' day and raised eyebrows with the following remarks: "When I was in my 20s they called me a hustler; after turning 301 became a business man, and now that I am in my 40s, I am known as an entrepreneur. I don't believe that I am doing anything differently, and I am not I sure that I can spell entrepreneur."

In spite of its humorous intent, the comment typifies the mystique and perplexity attached to the term "entrepreneur." On a different occasion, Mitchell Kapor, the founder of Lotus 1-2-3, had finished an address to a class at Harvard University and invited questions from the students. One student asked; "Mr. Kapor, I want to make a million dollars; I must be destined to be an entrepreneur?" "No," said the successful software innovator, "You want to spend a million dollars; that does not make you an entrepreneur."

During the recent fishing rights controversy, a columnist in one of this country's largest newspapers, suggested that fishermen invading the territorial waters reserved for another's fishing rights might be considered to be acting "entrepreneurially."

Then in what would appears to be the classic conundrum, classified help wanted ads now search for "entrepreneurial employees."

The confusion surrounding entrepreneurship and its definition is not limited to those outside the academic community. Academic journals teem with research projects attempting to crystallize the profile of entrepreneurs. Researchers have studied their mannerisms, family backgrounds, academic standings, age and gender, demographic variables, etc., etc. One study even went so far as to consider whether entrepreneurs were left-handed or right-handed.

While there may be confusion and disagreement on the profile and definition of the entrepreneur, there is no disagreement on the importance of entrepreneurship to our local economic development, to the national economy, and to the continuation and preservation of our Canadian standards of living. Entrepreneurship is viewed as the catalyst to transfer a segment of our new generation of "dehired" people into self-employed business owners who will, in turn, provide jobs for the rest. It is viewed as the necessary component to the creation of new wealth; and hopefully represents the fountainhead from which will spawn innovative management techniques for the design, manufacture and marketing of products that will compete globally.

Who are the new entrepreneurs? ... Is there a common entrepreneurial trait? ... Are entrepreneurs made or born? ... Today's entrepreneurs are big and tall, and short and small. They come from every walk of life, every race and ethnic setting, all age groups, male and female, and from every educational background. There is no mould for the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs make their own mould.

Age is certainly no barrier. Colonel Saunders started his Kentucky Fried Chicken business with his first old-age security cheque. Mary Kaye started her cosmetics business after she had retired. At the opposite end of the age spectrum, there are examples like Greg Clarke, the founder of College Pro painters. Greg started his business while a student at Western University in 1972 because he was unable to secure summer employment. It blossomed into an international franchise which he sold for 18 million dollars in 1988.

The Scarborough Board of Education in Metro Toronto can boast of initiating North America's first student incubator project. Grade 11 and 12 students take one semester and start a business in the Scarborough Student Venture Centre. They receive credits towards their secondary school diploma and continue, or sell, their businesses after graduation. …

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