... for those Entrepreneurs that still eschew technology ...
It is a clear reality for every contemporary individual that we live in the era of the "flat world". As Best Seller author Thomas Friedman affirms, our world has become a global village where geographical boundaries are no longer seen as barriers for the free flow of talent and for the seizing of opportunities beyond nations. Our humanity has reached one of its peak moments in terms of collaborative work and global problems solution seeking, a reality where networking is one of the strongest leverage points. Would such a description of the current state of the world be ever possible without conceiving the role that internet plays?
There are several evidence pieces that support the fact that the internet invention has been a powerful landmark that has led to our current state of development as humanity and therefore, to the increase of the quality of our lifes. Looking at it from an economical perspective, it`s hard to imagine the concept of globalization without thinking of the Internet as an instrumental tool. Remote awareness of demand and supply of products, efficient performance of electronic (Internet based) commercial transactions, and in general the arise of all kind virtual connections of human talent that do not need to be physically present to identify opportunities and work together around them, are just few examples on the irreplaceable benefits that the Internet enables.
But the internet not only impacts collective systems as economy and society. Looking at the individuals and understanding them as a "self", it is also easy to zero in on marked aspects on how Internet is a resource to develop a person`s potential and therefore lead the individual to a happier life. Internet is an endless avenue and knowledge bank for people to look for information and develop ideas to pursue their personal passions and dreams. People can join social networks that provide the kind of experience and perspective that people need to take decisions and probably, without the Internet they would never have access to those. It´s never been easier and more time-effective to find solutions before than "googling" from the web. On the other hand, Internet has also made entertainment cheaper and therefore more accessible to all kinds of people. With a simple Internet connection and through legal means you can access to resources like movies and music, for instance, and at a much lower price than traditional alternatives.
Internet simply has led our world to a democratization of opportunities, on a collective and personal level. Denying the benefits of working together as human beings is denying the benefits that Internet has for our society as aldo deniying the impact that it has in the quality of our life as citizens of this world.
Does the perception, the view or even the attitude towards "entrepreneurship" vary from culture to culture? Was "being an entrepreneur" less valued before?
As you have maybe perceived in some of my previous posts, I am rather of the school of thought of entrepreneurship is a universal and timeless concept– in few words: no matter where and when, there have always been and will always be entrepreneurs. Period. Even though almost nobody doubts that entrepreneurship is a reality, this does not necessarily mean that the way entrepreneurs are seen in different cultures is the same, as also does not mean that at different points of time in recent history the role of entrepreneurship in the society has been the same.
Let´s focus first of time. Recently I was reading an interview made by a Colombian business magazine to Mr. Bo Burlingham, editor of Inc. Magazine, one of the most influential publications on entrepreneurship. Bo affirmed that only few decades ago the figure of an “entrepreneur” was not really appreciated: in the 50s, 60s, & 70s it wasn´t a compliment being called “entrepreneur”. Entrepreneurs were considered weird, strange people, without a clear social value, because at this point of time the dream was becoming a loyal employee of a big corporation. During the 80s, at least in North America, entrepreneurs as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Ted Turner started to revert this perception, until the point where still today they remain icons for personal and professional success. If this was the pace for entrepreneurship acceptance in North America, don´t want to imagine what´s left for the rest of the world.
Let´s focus now on culture. Having lived in 5 different countries in past years (Germany, Austria, Brazil, The Netherlands and India) I guess I never stopped before to analyze deeply how each culture saw entrepreneurs. Though now that I think back it´s pretty easy for me to remember:
[I make the disclaimer that the following were my personal experiences and perceptions between 1998 and 2006, and do not necessarily represent realty]
- Germany & Austria: It was not particularly cool to be an entrepreneur. I even was on a conversation with someone that affirmed that being an entrepreneur was kind of irresponsible, cause at the end of the day “you had no real job” and that did not provide any financial security for your family. Being an entrepreneur was a B Plan for those not capable enough to get a traditional job. I must admit that at this point of my life I was not as aware and passionate for entrepreneurship as I am now, that´s why those type of comments did not really mean much for me. But today, thinking back, they really amaze me.
- Brazil: Entrepreneurship was rather a “bohemian” concept, not necessarily having a negative connotation. It was linked to “people that want to change the world”, which despite the romantic aspect of it, was very inspiring. I believe in Brazil is where I started to fall in love with entrepreneurship, in concept and practice …
- India: Entrepreneurship was at its highest expression. Formal and informal entrepreneurship, social and business entrepreneurship, there was a bit (or a bunch!) or everything, it all was blended into the culture. Entrepreneurship was fast, dynamic and well, it was rare not finding someone not related to his/her own business. I worked in India with an entrepreneur and it was an great experience, he was really money/profit oriented, I remember him always saying “This is not an NGO, we have to sell and make good business”.
Have you experienced something particular in other cultures regarding entrepreneurship? Have you ever talked to you grandparents about what in their time meant to be an entrepreneur?
I want to finish quoting Bo Burlingham again; I believe it´s a beautiful reflection to end this post with:
“Entrepreneurship has been always with us when have aimed to move forward and have a better live, and so will be forever. Despite of that, the entrepreneurial environment is always changing, it´s a blend of social, CULTURAL, political and economical changes. For instance, governments can make entrepreneurship easier or simply create barriers to make it simply impossible”.