Many people envision the entrepreneur as a tailored suit with an MBA distributing business cards and loudly predicting just how quickly his mobile app will become the next Facebook. For most, entrepreneurship might represent the exclusive domain of business experts and capitalists with an eye on their bottom line. While entrepreneurship as a career is not for everyone, it is accessible and beneficial to anyone who cares to explore it.
Anyone that identifies a problem and works to implement a solution is potentially an entrepreneur. The mother searching for a better way to pack her kids’ lunch is as much an entrepreneur as the scientist developing blood sample analysis tools. The key distinction is the extent to which we distribute the value of our solutions to others.
The mark of the entrepreneur is not so much her creativity but her ability to deliver value to as many people as possible through her product or service.
Ben Dyer, The Cockrell School’s Executive in Residence, said entrepreneurs need not even originate the idea for the company.
“Of all the companies I’ve started, I can’t think of one where it was my idea,” Dyer said. “It’s always been an idea that was brought to me by somebody. But if I get hold of an idea, I know all the things to do to turn it into a business and surround the idea with technology and customers and make something happen.”
While starting a company is too risky and time-consuming for many of us, we can still reap the benefits of entrepreneurship by practicing its virtues in a daily setting. A basic familiarity with techniques such as customer discovery, market validation and revenue modeling will improve any career. To see why, we examine the nature of work.
For any job to exist, it must first be created by an act of entrepreneurship. However, employees oftentimes forget their relationship to the market and entrepreneurial vision from which their employment is born.
An entrepreneurial tool set not only makes an employee more aware of these issues but can help improve them. A low-ranking Dewalt employee’s use of entrepreneurial skills even led to the creation of the company’s best-selling product, a durable radio for construction sites. Such innovation within the workplace, or “intrapreneurship,” is an invaluable asset to companies.
Even outside the workplace, entrepreneurship can help improve relationships and spark innovation. The same communication skills employed to understand customers can be used to work through issues with a significant other. Learning to generate insights about daily living through an entrepreneurial perspective can help overcome boredom and develop new interests.
Regardless of the occasion, entrepreneurship should not be, and as we have seen, is not restricted to elite businesspeople. We all have the right, and perhaps the duty, to acknowledge the entrepreneur inside us all.
Schmidt is a physics and aerospace engineering sophomore from Austin. Follow him on Twitter @heyjakers.