Entrepreneurialism – the mind and creative faculty for entrepreneurial actions–and the underlying Entrepreneurship, the process of designing and starting a business – has the purpose of changing the performance of resources, giving them the ability to create new wealth. It does not mean that Entrepreneurialism is synonymous with Business. Unlike Business, Entrepreneurialism is not just about material prosperity. Entrepreneurialism and Entrepreneurship are ways of perceiving the world that contribute to the broader design of society, feeding a social movement that challenges the model of Business that sees the creation of value for shareholders as a fixed point, around which the company revolves.
Entrepreneurialism is not a machine built according to defined precepts and standards. That is a managerial function. Instead, it is an art that, having grasped one or more ideas to open doors to the future, imagines its transformation into an entity called ‘Company’. It flourishes when experimenters meet and interact in informal groups, amateurs and pragmatists, not just academics.
Historically, there have always been social innovators, like the Lunar Society of Birmingham, so called because the meetings, which took place between 1765 and 1813, were held on Mondays, as the full moon approached. Curious about the natural world, the Lunar men created many Innovations such as the discovery of oxygen (Joseph Priestley), the development of the steam engine (James Watt) and the modern commercialization of pottery (Josiah Wedgwood)–and Entrepreneurialism results. Their achievements extended to fossil classification, telescope manufacture, and the creation of sparks of electricity. Lunar men lived art in its broadest meaning, encompassing the natural world. As Jenny Uglow brilliantly recounts in her essay The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World (Faber and Faber, London, 2012), “In the time of the Lunar Men science and art were not separated: you could be an inventor and designer, an experimenter and a poet, a dreamer and an entrepreneur all at once without anyone raising an eyebrow…….when people spoke of the ‘arts’, they did not mean only the fine arts but also the ‘mechanic arts’, the skills and techniques in agriculture, say, or printing.”
A passion for Entrepreneurialism has principles that are both utilitarian and pleasurable – the pleasure of pursuing one’s dreams and the full development of one’s potential. Also, Entrepreneurialism embraces the utilitarianism preached by the British philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill. That is, the pursuit of personal happiness is not at the expense of social happiness. In short, Entrepreneurialism is less individualistic than is commonly believed. Depending on the culture and how social and economic life is conducted, a country, a region or a community can act as an entrepreneur. That is how the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter expressed himself. Each business thread increases the density of its network, but it does not extend symmetrically. Some places are favoured more than others because they do not raise cultural barriers or impose rules to isolate themselves.
The entrepreneurial function is regenerated by always creating new combinations. There are serial entrepreneurs and others who move quickly to holding managerial positions. Some employees start entrepreneurial activities. It is a churn that sets the pace for the creation of entrepreneurial enterprises, which generate sustainable productivity over time and promote unlimited wealth for the benefit of the common good. When it takes over Entrepreneurialism, the managerial culture – as Peter Drucker, one of its founding fathers, regretted – plays a large part in making it difficult for people to work.
The art of making a nation happy and flourishing is to foster an entrepreneurial environment especially when the restrictions imposed by Business increase the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of top management and finance. That is how Business is reflecting itself in the wealthy class, with ostentatious consumption, setting the moral compass of the age. This reproduces the Golden Age of capitalism, an era of major social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. Consider the American Gilded Age between the 1870s and 1900, satirised by the American sociologist Thorstein Veblen his essay The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).
By placing the person at the centre of the action and affirming her or his dignity and autonomy, Entrepreneurialism is the protagonist of a new Renaissance humanism. Once freed from management authority, Entrepreneurialism acquires the critical independence necessary to translate scientific insights and discoveries into innovative entrepreneurial experiences, creating economic growth with well-being and happiness. In this light, Entrepreneurialism is a cultural movement. It is the community that is entrepreneurial, and the ultimate goal of Entrepreneurialism is the fulfilment of community needs. The satisfaction of the individual’s needs is only an intermediate goal.