Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Undertaking to Be Entrepreneurial

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Undertaking to Be Entrepreneurial

Article excerpt

Have you noticed that we're all entrepreneurs now? This observation crystallized not long ago as I was buying some software for my new computer.

As the softwaremakers slice and dice the market and offer multiple versions of the same program, would-be purchasers have to decide whether they can get away with the stripped-down "home" edition, or need more firepower. The answer generally is:You need more firepower. Signs that we have become the "Free Agent Nation" that Daniel H. Pink suggested in his 2001 book can be seen at any computer store.

A notch up from "home" (sounds warmer than "amateur," doesn't it?) is often a "professional" version. Then there's "small business," which today seems to cover everything from a home-based catering operation to a company about to go public. And one level up from "small business" is often "enterprise." And what an artful term that is.

Enterprise suggests large numbers of users, possibly multiple locations, probably some sort of tech support in-house. It's a signal of scale, in short. But isn't it a more appealing term than "big business" or even "corporate"?

Small business is capitalism with a human face. Small business gets played by Jimmy Stewart in the movies. Big business gets played by Lionel Barrymore.

No wonder the softwaremakers are glad to be able to call their offerings for big- business clients "enterprise-level" products and services. And enterprise, I suspect, is trendy right now because of associations with entrepreneur.

Entrepreneur, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg noted in a piece on National Public Radio a few years ago, is a term that came back into vogue during the Reagan years, when capitalism was being redeemed as an intellectually respectable idea. But capitalist, Dr. Nunberg added, didn't make the same kind of comeback. It retained some of its robber-baron connotations. …

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