The terms ‘entrepreneur’, ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘entrepreneurism’, etc. always create a huge amount of confusion in classrooms and academic research because of the need to specifically define a potential research subject. For me, the definition of ‘entrepreneur’ was so nebulous when doing a dissertation that I purposely avoided the term and focused more on the study of small business (defined it as organizations with less than 100 employees). Additionally, students as they begin taking classes in the study of entrepreneurship they often ask themselves, ‘am I an entrepreneur’ or ‘am I capable of being an entrepreneur?’ many times not really grasping what it is or what one does. I try to steer discussion away from the individual and more towards the process of entrepreneurship. Once an understanding of the process develops, then a more clear understanding of who an entrepreneur usually takes place.
The process of entrepreneurship? Using the definition coined by Harvard Business School Eship Professor Emeritus Howard Stevenson, he defines entrepreneurship as ‘“the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control.’ Critical to the definition is ‘ pursuit of opportunity’ and ‘resources’. Using his definition, entrepreneurship applies to almost all settings in management and organizations. In fact, HBS uses this definition as a foundation for their MBA program applying and integrating in most of their courses.
Still, this definition doesn’t provide much guidance in what Eship really is and who an entrepreneur is? So, I use the following definition focused on the process approach. Here goes ‘Entrepreneurship is the process of starting and building an independent organization that primarily develops and exploits market opportunities.’ Within this definition, I can specifically state that this is how I separate Eship from subjects such as Creativity, Innovation, Financing, etc. In fact, using this definition, I can say all these sub-topics are part of the Eship process.