Entrepreneurship is the simple process of being the agent of an idea and creating a profit from it – as simple as exchanging your product or service for money. Over the years, the basic concept of entrepreneurship has not changed, although its execution has evolved with changing markets, economies and socio-political climates. While traditionally, an entrepreneur was thought of as someone who ‘’is their own boss’’, owns their own company or runs their own service, we now also associate it with terms such as “innovator, disruptor, leader, visionary, hustler” and more.
While some may have an innate skill and intelligence for entrepreneurship and innovation, these skills can be learned by anyone. In classical theory of economics, innovation is seen as a key factor of entrepreneurship, and is viewed as a key driver of the economic system. Schumpeter, an economic scholar, described the successful entrepreneur as one who goes against the grain and is resilient about it. In an economic climate of uncertainty, and an erratic climate of employment, entrepreneurship provides stability while simultaneously strengthening the broader economy. The entrepreneur should always see themselves as an innovator – identifying gaps and innovating ways to fill them.
In the last year, our world changed before we knew it. Covid-19 brought with it many losses, but it also brought new opportunities. Smart entrepreneurs see opportunity even in diversity, and can identify opportunity even within change. Entrepreneurs have agency to shape how they create value and impact, more so within this changing world, which has led to a new degrees of innovation, adaptation and agility. We have seen the immense growth of the “side hustle” culture, where full-time employed people take on a business idea in order to create a supplemental income.
Recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and EDGE Technical Report on Entrepreneurship reports show that a significant proportion of households have a supplementary income or job through entrepreneurial activity. For some, one income is just not enough to cover basic needs and a side hustle is necessary, but for others, it provides that extra kick to fund holidays, hobbies, or even hair-dos. And for others, it’s the start of the end of working for someone else. Whichever reason it is, it’s really as simple as just starting.
The growing age of digitalisation has provided opportunities to develop new markets, new systems and create new opportunities, from the localised community level to the international market. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the growth of entrepreneurship grew from 43.2% in 2017 to 60.4% in 2019 alone. Mobile and computer Apps such as Zoom, Houseparty, and others have thrived within the context of lockdowns. At the local level, many small businesses have popped up – whether it is fruit suppliers, sanitiser and mask suppliers, and more. Many of these businesses have made use of digital social media platforms such as Instagram to operate. Thus, good entrepreneurship does not have one specific formula, but is rather about cultivating a mindset of agility to adapt quickly, which has much to do with innovation. The spirit of entrepreneurship may stem from passion, immediate needs or creativity, but the execution still requires tenacity, skill, and strategic thinking to be successful.
Although reinventing the wheel is not always required to get started, innovation is a key part of entrepreneurship. Innovation should be thought of as the emergence of an idea where a gap is present. However, true innovation creates a demand for a product or service where previously, people never knew they wanted it. A good lesson for an entrepreneur to remember is that change should not always be feared, but rather embraced – while change may close one door, it can also open multiple other doors, if your innovative hat is on.