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Copyright 2006
Cornell University.
All rights reserved.


What Is Entrepreneurship?

Children's clothing is one product niche for an entrepreneur

A dictionary definition of entrepreneur is "the organizer or promoter of an activity, especially one who assumes the risks of a business." In practice, entrepreneurship can be

  • starting your own business
  • inventing something new
  • a spirit of creative thinking and innovation that embraces an entire organization.

Entrepreneurs take many paths to many business objectives.

Take a look at this list of entrepreneurship definitions. Note that innovation is part of most of these definitions. Some mention starting a business, but entrepreneurship can be simply a way of thinking and taking action.

Definitions of Entrepreneurship
  • "An entrepreneur is a person who is willing to take risks in order to obtain positive results." (Cornell student, 2001)
  • "An entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise." (Cornell student, 2001)
  • "Entrepreneurship is being a dare devil businessperson by assuming risks, thinking differently, and distributing resources so as to shake up the market." (Cornell student, 2001)
  • "An entrepreneur is a person who has the vision and the drive to overtake and make a project happen." (Cornell student, 2001)
  • The role of entrepreneurship is "to assemble and deploy resources in new combinations that disrupt the otherwise static nature of the market." Schumpeter (1934)
  • "Entrepreneurs innovate. Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. It is the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth. Innovation, indeed, creates a resource." (Drucker, 1985).
  • "Perceived opportunities are contrived from the entrepreneur’s assessment of the ‘waste’ in existing resource combinations." Kirzner (1973)
  • "Entrepreneurship is the process of acquiring, assembling, and deploying resources in the pursuit of perceived opportunities for long-term gain." Bowman & Upton, 1991)
  • "Entrepreneurship is the discovery of new combinations of resources under uncertain situations that generate entrepreneurial rent as reward for risk taking." (Rumelt, 1987)
  • "A firm-creating entrepreneur creates and perhaps operates a new business firm, while an innovating entrepreneur transforms inventions and ideas into economically viable entities." (Baumol, 1991)


Crookephoto"An entrepreneur to me just means someone who thinks out of the box and they're on a different beam. 1 + 1 doesn't equal 2. 1 + 1 equals 5 to them somehow."

Michael Crooke of Patagonia describes what entrepreneurs who innovate by thinking differently contribute to the spirit and success of any good business.


Young photo"If you're going to do it, do something you love."

Carol Young, the entrepreneurial designer who started [un]designed, makes some recommendations to prospective entrepreneurs, especially those who want to be designers. She continues by explaining that entrepreneurial design businesses usually take some time to establish a valued reputation.





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