What’s in a name?

On the heels of a conversation with a friend of mine back in the States who is a few months into her biomedical engineering for the developing world start-up (fundraising stage – want details? ask me!), this article pinged into my inbox.

I was thinking about my friend, and how it has been so obvious for years that she was destined to do this – to start things yes, but also carry them through to operation and completion, whether that means handing over leadership or finishing a project. But if you had asked me to put into words why I thought this about her, how exactly she was wired which made her distinctly destined in this way, I might have paused indefinitely for reflection. Or maybe, more favorably, I might have given you a list of adjectives. I don’t think I could have given you a 12 word logical sentence.

I like how Stevenson puts it, dry and analytical as it may sound at first hearing:

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

What this doesn’t stir within the hearer is the passion, stubbornness, and/or charisma that often externally defines the entrepreneurs around it. And yet, maybe this is why the definition above succeeds so well: to define entrepreneurship by a set of perceived qualities in the entrepreneur is to necessarily fail to capture everyone in your data set completely, because personalities vary within industry, context. In fact they may even change – perhaps an adaptable personality could be listed as one hallmark quality of an entrepreneur. And on the other end of the spectrum, to define an entrepreneur simply by what they do (i.e. the ever-enlightened “they start stuff” answer) also fails at the first hurdle by missing out any mention of the mental – the drive, intelligence, thought-process.

Stevenson’s definition avoids both pitfalls. Entrepreneurship is described as the  pursuit (action) of opportunity (motivation) without regard (character) to resources currently controlled (mindset).

I like it!

Do you have a favourite entrepreneur? You can see mine here.


One thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. One of my closest friends is an entrepreneur. She is my favorite, but of course I’m biased. Still, she is so admirable. I love her spirit, her confidence, the way she holds herself with self-authority and grace. She’s fresh out of college yet already has a successful business, an amazing network, and her own adoring interns!

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