Many people see entrepreneurship as some kind of mystery. There are lots of books aimed at managers which claim they can improve the reader's business management skills. But nobody attempts to teach entrepreneurship – perhaps no-one believes it can be taught. However, there's no reason why it should not.
The role of the entrepreneur, or enterpriser, is to turn a business idea into a new business, or inject new life into an old one. At every stage of the process – from the initial big idea through to planning it and implementing and beyond – the entrepreneur can learn from the experience of others who have been there before, following the example of clear practices and precedents. In fact, many entrepreneurial successes have earned their fortunes in exactly this way.
However, there is a basic question which every firm is faced with ever. Do you attempt to make the business grow, or are you basically happy with what you've got? If the answer is the latter, which may reflect the traditional image of the smaller firm, then you are out of date and in a small minority.
The majority of firms are committed to growth. But in a climate of intense competition, you can not expect to grow without entrepreneurship and innovation. And it just so happens that intense competition is a permanent feature of the new economy.
Innovation, though, always carries a certain risk, to which many – including those who wish to grow their business – seem averse, especially proprietors. According to a survey, 30% are 'unwilling to pursue any risky growth strategies'. The figure of the unwilling is only 18% among non-proprietorial managers, though, providing they are a more go-ahead bunch altogether.
However, just a fifth of the managerial types concur that 'Growth is all: we can not survive in this business unless we grow. Success only comes from taking big chances, and I would risk a lot for a strategy which promised to deliver strong long-term growth. ' Those rather intimidating words may help to explain why as many as three-fifths of the firms replied in favor of relative safety, opting for a 'medium-risk strategy – if growth prospects are reasonably good.'
But in any case, growth does not seem to be the leading objective. The majority of firms ranked profit as 'very important', with growth next on the list (albeit quite close), followed by market share, steady employment and value for sale.
But success is divided equally between profitability and growth – both are needed, as are innovation and entrepreneurship.