The Evolution of the Entrepreneur


Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last, was interviewed by Inc. Magazine( April 09) and cited 5 key evolutions that have raised the idea of entrepreneurship as a systematic and replicable process.  Those evolutions are:

1) A rise in capital mechanisms; i.e. now there are various means of obtaining venture funds.

2) A rise in educational mechanisms; i.e. the idea that entrepreneurship is now a learnable process.

3) A shift in the image of an entrepreneur from a bad word to a hero.

4) A shift in viewing entrepreneurship as the creation of a better product to a better process.

5) Three/possibly four stages of an entrepreneur:  First, a great idea; second, a successful business; thirdly, a great company and now fourth, a great movement.

Mr. Collins references Wendy Kopp of Teach for America as an example of the modern day, representing the proposed fourth stage of an, entrepreneur.  Ms. Kopp, ” is out to utterly transform education…taking an entrepreneurial, let’s-do-something approach to tackling a massive social problem.”  Mr. Collins then explains that the leading entrepreneurs of the past three decades: Steve Jobs, Ken Iverson, Herb Kelleher, Anita Roddick, Yvon Chouinard, Howard Schultz, and Jeff Bezos all also set out with purposes larger than what they were doing.

The thoughtleader is emphatic to point out that a movement will not simply be able to stand on it’s own. It must evolve on the shoulders of a sound, stragetic business that is held together by a very effective set of processes and values.  Secondly, despite the fundamental economic differences between the private sector and non-profits, Mr. Collins believes that the social sector may have more to teach us in the coming years.  The reason being that in private business, leadership is often mistaken for concentrated power.  In the non-profit world, the ability to truly lead and get things done is a learned and earned skill that cannot simply be commanded.

I found this article incredibly inspiring and enlightening.  Oftentimes the original ideals and inspirations behind some of our greatest and most profitable companies were founded on a simply, yet lofty personal legacy goal of their creator.  This dialogue underscores the responsibility to create a legacy that will not only improve our world today, but the world of our children and their children.  What do you think? Do you agree that the next stage of an entrepreneur will be the development of a great movement?


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