23 August 2012

Is Entrepreneurship in 2012 the Equivalent of Public Education in 2012?

We've always had some form of education, even if it was just mothers trying to explain the world to bewildered children. But about a century ago in this country, communities began supporting public education in a serious way. Around 1900, on average one new high school opened every day in America. Students weren't expected to learn on their own or with just the help of family. Education mattered and the public supported it, made it not only easier but required. Before this time, you could get an education but you were pretty much on your own in getting it; after, this was expected.

1900 to 2000 can be considered the century of the knowledge worker, the third economy. Progress was led not by capital or land but by people able to analyze, plan, design, and manipulate symbols of the things that the machines of the industrial economy could manipulate in reality. This was the information economy and it has worked out well, triggering the biggest increase in life expectancy and income in any century.

It takes 3 days to get approval to open a business in Singapore. Already boasting a high per capita income, by some forecasts Singapore's projected $138,000 per capita income will make it the highest in the world by 2050, higher than America's projected $100,000. Like Americans with education in 1900, Singapore has decided to support entrepreneurship.

Consider the possibility that this is the century in which entrepreneurship will lead development as knowledge work led progress in the 20th century. The question is whether communities are going to do the equivalent of leaving education to home schooling or whether they're going to get serious about preparing, creating, and supporting entrepreneurship. 20 years ago, entrepreneurs could start a business but they were pretty much on their own. Today, communities like kickstarter help nurture entrepreneurs but the larger community still treats it like education in 1850; left to the individual.

It is time to change that.

Read more about The Fourth Economy here, a site that includes a free download of the first three chapters of the new edition.

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