Harvard Business Review's July 2010 issue featured an article by Daniel Isenberg about how to start an entrepreneurial revolution. Isenberg is a policy adviser on entrepreneurship ecosystems who works with Harvard, Columbia and Babson College. Babson College sponsors the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) that tracks changes in entrepreneurial activity from around the world, so he's drawing from a wealth of data and experiences. You can hear Isenberg's interview with Karon Dillon here.
What most resonated with me though, were his closing comments about the definition of entrepreneurship. One of my closing arguments in The Fourth Economy is that the popularization of entrepreneurship will mean a change in the individual from someone who is defined by their institutions to someone who defines those institutions. Isenberg does a brilliant job of articulating one often overlooked reason that entrepreneurship matters at the close of this interview.
KARON DILLON: What’s the single biggest mistake a local or national government could make in trying to stimulate entrepreneurship?
DANIEL ISENBERG: Well, I think the single, biggest mistake is to look outside the country too much. Of course, it’s important to learn from everybody and to use best practices or better practices or any practices from anywhere else. But the most important thing that all governments should understand is that first of all, entrepreneurship is part of the human spirit. It exists everywhere and it exists in their societies now. It may be buried, it may be hidden, it may be suppressed, but it’s there.
The most important thing that governments can do is encourage it to express itself. Entrepreneurship is really no different in that respect from art, music, poetry, and other endeavors that have an element of creativity in them. It’s a way of expressing yourself.
So certainly entrepreneurship is a way of generating financial wealth, but it’s also a way of self-expression. It’s, I think, the most important thing that governments can do is encourage people, to empower people, to try their ideas out, to try and make something happen. You’d be surprised at how far that encouragement can go.
Thanks to Jason Brunson for the tip on this at his Rise of the Fourth Economy site.