The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reads the Internet so that you don’t have to, sharing a short list of curated blog posts for your Friday reading.
Entrepreneurs are Crazy—and Right
What, exactly, is entrepreneurship? In a new book, Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid, Babson Global professor Daniel Isenberg draws on his nearly 30 years of study on entrepreneurs to answer this very question. He finds that they all produce economic value by seeing opportunity where others see impossibilities. They find diamonds in the rough. Entrepreneurship is, as The Economist put it, “contrarian value creation.”
Successful contrarians are marked, according to Isenberg, by self-confidence and determination. Starting a business means facing down all manner of opposition and criticism. To Isenberg’s list I would also add discernment—knowing when to listen to advice.
America today could be much better at fostering this entrepreneurship. Policymakers should look to remove barriers to entry and growth in the marketplace, as well as recognize the significance of the profit motive for incentivizing entrepreneurial risk-taking. Personally, I’d like to see schools start to wrestle with how to accommodate contrarians or independent thinkers. We seem particularly poor at training up future entrepreneurs.
More broadly, our nation’s leaders must recognize that entrepreneurship brings both pain and gain. To central planners, entrepreneurs are like a bull in a china shop. They disrupt the status quo and undermine established job creators. In the end, they produce far more good than bad, but try telling that to a policymaker facing down constituents who’ve just lost their jobs. That’s why Isenberg’s book is a terrific reminder of the value that these enterprising, contrarian individuals contribute to the American experience.