posted Oct 31, 2011, 4:46 PM by Unknown user
We in North America hold a very specific type of entrepreneur on a pedestal. Think about Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, two of the most lauded US businessmen today. One aspect of their career routes is encouraging: the part about dropping out of college and starting their businesses. The rest of their story is actually discouraging for many. In some ways, they're horrible role models for entrepreneurship. First of all, these guys are geniuses. You and I are probably not as smart as they are. A braniac making computers in his garage isn't an ideal example for the average Joe. We need more examples of regular people with average talents - or even below-average talents - starting a business. In North America (The US in particular, and Canada by extension), entrepreneurship is often portrayed as something reserved for an elite, intellectual class. The message seems to be, "Only start a business if you've really got it figured out." The entrepreneur drops out of college because he's too smart and visionary for school.

In a way, that's not what entrepreneurship is all about. Despite the common portrayal, it's not about being smarter than everyone else; it's about creating something for yourself. The average Mexican taco joint isn't flipping the culinary world on its head; it's simply carving out its piece of the pie with its workers' skills. Furthermore, we North Americans seem to have an idea that a business plan is only good if it will make one wealthy. (We have tricked ourselves into thinking that) If an idea can't make a million or even a hundred thousand bucks, it isn't worth doing. People from other countries seem to see it differently. The guy working a gyro cart on the corner is probably lucky to clear a lower-middle class lifestyle, but he starts his business knowing that ahead of time.

Somewhere along the way, there was a change in America's entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship is no longer a process of creating a job for oneself; rather, it's seen as the exploitation of some genius idea or utilizing superior intelligence outside an academic context. That's really not what it's all about.

Adapted from Casey's Daily Dispatch, October 31st, 2011