I have always been surrounded by entrepreneurs. My brother started his own company in South Africa when he was in his teens and has gone on to be extremely successful here in the States. While I was growing up my dad built a huge real estate business and later went on to start 2 of his own companies. Entrepreneurship has always been something that made sense to me.
Society has become extremely structured especially in terms of the path that younger generations have to take (its not all by choice): Pre-School -> Elementary School -> Middle School -> High School -> College -> Corporate Job. Easy right? Yes, it has become too easy. Some may argue differently given the financial crisis and its impact on the job market but that’s a completely separate debate. Others could point to college dropouts like Mr. Zuckerberg but his case is not the norm, as many still prefer to follow the path of least resistance. Following this path gives you comfort: a decent salary, benefits, 9-5, 401K, vacation time, lunch breaks, coffee breaks…you get it. Others may argue that we are seeing a lot of entrepreneurs break into the market right now. Yes we are, but the majority are in tech/consumer web space (which is great!). We need to break this cycle and make people uncomfortable again. We need to create a population of entrepreneurs spanning all industries. I want to see more green/clean energy, medical, health, and consumer product entrepreneurs that bring new and exciting products to the market on a daily basis. Government bailouts and QE (Quantitive Easing) are not going to drive innovation and the economy for a long period of time. This kind of stimulus will only take us so far and we can’t keep looking to Obama and Bernanke to solve all of our problems.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I hate corporate America and Finance. I wouldn’t be there if I did. My argument is that if we are going to turn things around with the economy (domestically and globally) we need to re-establish that entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and creation. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs should be considered 2 of the most important innovators of our time. They could have easily gone on to work at other corporations after high school/college. However, they both created 2 of the largest companies in the world along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, created new markets and economies (apps, software, mobile), and they have driven innovation in our every day lives.
At the end of the day, I am simply saying that we need to break the cycle of being too comfortable and doing everything the easy way. We need more individuals who are willing to take risks and build the next biggest thing. Not only do they create wealth for themselves, but they also introduce innovations and new products that change industries, create jobs, and drive economies. I work with plenty of people who at the end of the day, are not self-fulfilled but are comfortable. We have become too risk-averse and we need to make the path of least resistance entrepreneurship.
Drop your thoughts in the comments!