In a vulnerable environment an entrepreneur embarking on a new enterprise or a small business owner opening a new operation, both are taking some degree of risk. While an entrepreneur maybe more focused on profit and loss, the small business owner maybe more concerned with a holistic outlook.
While theoretically, these two entities are viewed in different lights, they both can still bring benefit to the economy and environment they are operating in.
In recent times there has been much talk about entrepreneurship and the role of entrepreneurs in the growth of national economies. However, some may ask what distinguishes entrepreneurship from the activities of small business and to what extent are their features interchangeable. It is believed that “An entrepreneur is one who creates a new business in the face of risk and uncertainty for the purpose of achieving profits and growth by identifying opportunities and assembling the necessary resources to capitalize on them” (Zimmerer & Scarborough). Other definitions are linked to the development of new products, methods, markets and forms of organizational structures.
The Small Business Act in the USA defines a small business as “One that is independently owned and operated and not dormant in its field of operation”. The 1953 act is again referenced as it relates to small business classification, but this time on the basis of size/number of employees and revenue turnover. Other authors make a clear distinction between the two. They agree that entrepreneurship can be prevalent within the realm of small business. However, all small businesses are not entrepreneurial, nor are they lead by entrepreneurs whose major focus is profit and growth, as opposed to a small business owner who may be focused on sustainability and other more holistic reasons such as continuing the family tradition or the creation of a legacy for future generations
There is the belief that the activities of entrepreneurs has the ability for exponential growth, and the positive shaping of the economies of developing countries. It is very evident that the ability to create a culture of innovation within your entrepreneurial enterprise, will make a difference to your growth. This can be seen in companies like Virgin and M3, who have this element embedded in the DNA of the company, allowing them to constantly reinvent themselves and stay ahead of the market, even during difficult economic periods. Highly respected internationally renowned entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand, believes that “Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engines that power our economies, create jobs, fuel growth and ultimately transform communities”. This view would appear to be supported by writers like strategy guru Professor Michael Porter who is of the opinion that for a nation to remain competitive in the global environment, its growth is directly linked to the ability of its industries to upgrade and innovate.
In Barbados, we are blessed to have many of both small business person and entrepreneurs. We must therefore support the activities of small business, while trying to create an enabling environment for the growth of entrepreneurs and developing a culture of entrepreneurship within our people. In my opinion, any attempt to do the latter should be based on entrepreneurship that revolves around the educational system. How do we structure our educational institutions and programs in a way that would firstly, identify future entrepreneurs, secondly, nurture and develop their skills and thirdly, provide the enabling environment for them to reach their true potential. The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation is seeking to address some of these areas through their Education and Talent Development Pillar led by former educator Keith Miller.
The Pillar is working with the Cave Hill School of Business, in association with the Kelly School of Business (USA) to conduct an enterprise audit of Barbados’ school system. This audit is designed to identify the areas that are in need of support with an aim to creating solutions. Also the innovative and exciting secondary school’s $20 Challenge, which is currently proving that creativity among the youth is alive and well, however we need to challenge and channel it more. This sparks another debate as to whether entrepreneurship can actually be taught. It is the opinion of some researchers that although there are many aspects of entrepreneurial processes and its general functions that can be structured into an educational programme, equally there are several other areas relating to personality and aptitude that remain unique to each individual and cannot be taught. However, this will be explored in another article.
Barbadian people are creative, talented and intelligent. With the correct environment for the education, development and nurturing of entrepreneurs, we will make this an even more special place to live and engage the world. To be the #1 entrepreneurial hub in the world by 2020 would not be a moon shot, but rather, another step in the development of this wonderful nation.