Entrepreneurship: Characteristics, Importance, Types, and Functions of Entrepreneurship

Concept of Entrepreneurship:

The word “entrepreneur” is derived from the French verb enterprendre, which means ‘to undertake’. This refers to those who “undertake” the risk of new enterprises. An enterprise is created by an entrepreneur. The process of creation is called “entrepreneurship”.

Entrepreneurship is a process of actions of an entrepreneur who is a person always in search of something new and exploits such ideas into gainful opportunities by accepting the risk and uncertainty with the enterprise.

Characteristics of Entrepreneurship:

Entrepreneurship is characterized by the following features:

1. Economic and dynamic activity: Entrepreneurship is an economic activity because it involves the creation and operation of an enterprise with a view to creating value or wealth by ensuring optimum utilisation of scarce resources. Since this value creation activity is performed continuously in the midst of uncertain business environment, therefore, entrepreneurship is regarded as a dynamic force.

2. Related to innovation: Entrepreneurship involves a continuous search for new ideas. Entrepreneurship compels an individual to continuously evaluate the existing modes of business operations so that more efficient and effective systems can be evolved and adopted. In other words, entrepreneurship is a continuous effort for synergy (optimization of performance) in organizations.

3. Profit potential: “Profit potential is the likely level of return or compensation to the entrepreneur for taking on the risk of developing an idea into an actual business venture.” Without profit potential, the efforts of entrepreneurs would remain only an abstract and a theoretical leisure activity.

4. Risk bearing: The essence of entrepreneurship is the ‘willingness to assume risk’ arising out of the creation and implementation of new ideas. New ideas are always tentative and their results may not be instantaneous and positive.

An entrepreneur has to have patience to see his efforts bear fruit. In the intervening period (time gap between the conception and implementation of an idea and its results), an entrepreneur has to assume risk. If an entrepreneur does not have the willingness to assume risk, entrepreneurship would never succeed.

Entrepreneurial Process:

Entrepreneurship is a process, a journey, not the destination; a means, not an end. All the successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates (Microsoft), Warren Buffet (Hathaway), Gordon Moore (Intel) Steve Jobs (Apple Computers), Jack Welch (GE) GD Birla, Jamshedji Tata and others all went through this process.

To establish and run an enterprise it is divided into three parts – the entrepreneurial job, the promotion, and the operation. Entrepreneurial job is restricted to two steps, i.e., generation of an idea and preparation of feasibility report. In this article, we shall restrict ourselves to only these two aspects of entrepreneurial process.

Figure 4.1: The Entrepreneurial Process

1. Idea Generation:

To generate an idea, the entrepreneurial process has to pass through three stages:

a. Germination: This is like seeding process, not like planting seed. It is more like the natural seeding. Most creative ideas can be linked to an individual’s interest or curiosity about a specific problem or area of study.

b. Preparation: Once the seed of interest curiosity has taken the shape of a focused idea, creative people start a search for answers to the problems. Inventors will go on for setting up laboratories; designers will think of engineering new product ideas and marketers will study consumer buying habits.

c. Incubation: This is a stage where the entrepreneurial process enters the sub­conscious intellectualization. The sub-conscious mind joins the unrelated ideas so as to find a resolution.

2. Feasibility study:

Feasibility study is done to see if the idea can be commercially viable. It passes through two steps:

a. Illumination: After the generation of idea, this is the stage when the idea is thought of as a realistic creation. The stage of idea blossoming is critical because ideas by themselves have no meaning.

b. Verification: This is the last thing to verify the idea as realistic and useful for application. Verification is concerned about practicality to implement an idea and explore its usefulness to the society and the entrepreneur.

Importance of Entrepreneurship:

Entrepreneurship offers the following benefits:

Benefits of Entrepreneurship to an Organisation:

1. Development of managerial capabilities:

The biggest significance of entrepreneurship lies in the fact that it helps in identifying and developing managerial capabilities of entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur studies a problem, identifies its alternatives, compares the alternatives in terms of cost and benefits implications, and finally chooses the best alternative.

This exercise helps in sharpening the decision making skills of an entrepreneur. Besides, these managerial capabilities are used by entrepreneurs in creating new technologies and products in place of older technologies and products resulting in higher performance.

2. Creation of organisations:

Entrepreneurship results into creation of organisations when entrepreneurs assemble and coordinate physical, human and financial resources and direct them towards achievement of objectives through managerial skills.

3. Improving standards of living:

By creating productive organisations, entrepreneurship helps in making a wide variety of goods and services available to the society which results into higher standards of living for the people.

Possession of luxury cars, computers, mobile phones, rapid growth of shopping malls, etc. are pointers to the rising living standards of people, and all this is due to the efforts of entrepreneurs.

4. Means of economic development:

Entrepreneurship involves creation and use of innovative ideas, maximisation of output from given resources, development of managerial skills, etc., and all these factors are so essential for the economic development of a country.

Factors affecting Entrepreneurship:

Entrepreneurship is a complex phenomenon influenced by the interplay of a wide variety of factors. Some of the important factors are listed below:

1. Personality Factors:

Personal factors, becoming core competencies of entrepreneurs, include:

  1. Initiative (does things before being asked for)
  2. Proactive (identification and utilisation of opportunities)
  3. Perseverance (working against all odds to overcome obstacles and never complacent with success)
  4. Problem-solver (conceives new ideas and achieves innovative solutions)
  5. Persuasion (to customers and financiers for patronisation of his business and develops & maintains relationships)
  6. Self-confidence (takes and sticks to his decisions)
  7. Self-critical (learning from his mistakes and experiences of others)
  8. A Planner (collects information, prepares a plan, and monitors performance)
  9. Risk-taker (the basic quality).

2. Environmental factors:

These factors relate to the conditions in which an entrepreneur has to work. Environmental factors such as political climate, legal system, economic and social conditions, market situations, etc. contribute significantly towards the growth of entrepreneurship. For example, political stability in a country is absolutely essential for smooth economic activity.

Frequent political protests, bandhs, strikes, etc. hinder economic activity and entrepreneurship. Unfair trade practices, irrational monetary and fiscal policies, etc. are a roadblock to the growth of entrepreneurship. Higher income levels of people, desire for new products and sophisticated technology, need for faster means of transport and communication, etc. are the factors that stimulate entrepreneurship.

Thus, it is a combination of both personal and environmental factors that influence entrepreneurship and brings in desired results for the individual, the organisation and the society.

Types of Entrepreneurs:

Depending upon the level of willingness to create innovative ideas, there can be the following types of entrepreneurs:

1. Innovative entrepreneurs:

These entrepreneurs have the ability to think newer, better and more economical ideas of business organisation and management. They are the business leaders and contributors to the economic development of a country.

Inventions like the introduction of a small car ‘Nano’ by Ratan Tata, organised retailing by Kishore Biyani, making mobile phones available to the common may by Anil Ambani are the works of innovative entrepreneurs.

2. Imitating entrepreneurs:

These entrepreneurs are people who follow the path shown by innovative entrepreneurs. They imitate innovative entrepreneurs because the environment in which they operate is such that it does not permit them to have creative and innovative ideas on their own.

Such entrepreneurs are found in countries and situations marked with weak industrial and institutional base which creates difficulties in initiating innovative ideas.

In our country also, a large number of such entrepreneurs are found in every field of business activity and they fulfill their need for achievement by imitating the ideas introduced by innovative entrepreneurs.

Development of small shopping complexes is the work of imitating entrepreneurs. All the small car manufacturers now are the imitating entrepreneurs.

3. Fabian entrepreneurs:

The dictionary meaning of the term ‘fabian’ is ‘a person seeking victory by delay rather than by a decisive battle’. Fabian entrepreneurs are those individuals who do not show initiative in visualising and implementing new ideas and innovations wait for some development which would motivate them to initiate unless there is an imminent threat to their very existence.

4. Drone entrepreneurs:

The dictionary meaning of the term ‘drone’ is ‘a person who lives on the labor of others’. Drone entrepreneurs are those individuals who are satisfied with the existing mode and speed of business activity and show no inclination in gaining market leadership. In other words, drone entrepreneurs are die-hard conservatives and even ready to suffer the loss of business.

5. Social Entrepreneur:

Social entrepreneurs drive social innovation and transformation in various fields including education, health, human rights, workers’ rights, environment and enterprise development.

They undertake poverty alleviation objectives with the zeal of an entrepreneur, business practices and dare to overcome traditional practices and to innovate. Dr Mohammed Yunus of Bangladesh who started Gramin Bank is a case of social entrepreneur.

Functions of an Entrepreneur:

The important functions performed by an entrepreneur are listed below:

1. Innovation:

An entrepreneur is basically an innovator who tries to develop new technology, products, markets, etc. Innovation may involve doing new things or doing existing things differently. An entrepreneur uses his creative faculties to do new things and exploit opportunities in the market. He does not believe in status quo and is always in search of change.

2. Assumption of Risk:

An entrepreneur, by definition, is risk taker and not risk shirker. He is always prepared for assuming losses that may arise on account of new ideas and projects undertaken by him. This willingness to take risks allows an entrepreneur to take initiatives in doing new things and marching ahead in his efforts.

3. Research:

An entrepreneur is a practical dreamer and does a lot of ground-work before taking a leap in his ventures. In other words, an entrepreneur finalizes an idea only after considering a variety of options, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses by applying analytical techniques, testing their applicability, supplementing them with empirical findings, and then choosing the best alternative. It is then that he applies his ideas in practice. The selection of an idea, thus, involves the application of research methodology by an entrepreneur.

4. Development of Management Skills:

The work of an entrepreneur involves the use of managerial skills which he develops while planning, organizing, staffing, directing, controlling and coordinating the activities of business. His managerial skills get further strengthened when he engages himself in establishing equilibrium between his organization and its environment.

However, when the size of business grows considerably, an entrepreneur can employ professional managers for the effective management of business operations.

5. Overcoming Resistance to Change:

New innovations are generally opposed by people because it makes them change their existing behavior patterns. An entrepreneur always first tries new ideas at his level.

It is only after the successful implementation of these ideas that an entrepreneur makes these ideas available to others for their benefit. In this manner, an entrepreneur paves the way for the acceptance of his ideas by others. This is a reflection of his will power, enthusiasm and energy which helps him in overcoming the society’s resistance to change.

6. Catalyst of Economic Development:

An entrepreneur plays an important role in accelerating the pace of economic development of a country by discovering new uses of available resources and maximizing their utilization.

To better appreciate the concept of an entrepreneur, it is desirable to distinguish him from an entrepreneur and promoter. Table 4.1 outlines the distinction between an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs, and Table 4.2 portrays basic points of distinction between an entrepreneur and promoter.

Table 4.1: Distinction between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur:

Basis Entrepreneur Intrapreneur
• Capacity• Status• Decisions

• Reward

— Owner— Own boss— Takes own decisions

— Uncertain and unlimited

— An manager— Salaried employee— Executes decisions with the concurrence of owner

— Fixed rewards and salary

Table 4.2: Distinction between Entrepreneur and Promoter:

Basis Entrepreneur Promoter
• Stage of business• Owning business• Nature of job

• Example

— From conception to continuation— Owns the enterprise— Includes everything

— Any business

— To bring a business into existence— May or may not own— Highly specialised

— A consultant or a chartered account and offering services

Some Myths about Entrepreneurship:

Over the years, a few myths about entrepreneurship have developed. These are as under:

(i) Entrepreneurs, like leaders, are born, not made:

The fact does not hold true for the simple reason that entrepreneurship is a discipline comprising of models, processes and case studies.

One can learn about entrepreneurship by studying the discipline.

(ii) Entrepreneurs are academic and socially misfits:

Dhirubai Ambani had no formal education. Bill Gates has been a School drop-out. Therefore, this description does not apply to everyone. Education makes an entrepreneur a true entrepreneur. Mr Anand Mahindra, Mr Kumar Mangalam Birla, for example, is educated entrepreneurs and that is why they are heroes.

(iii) To be an entrepreneur, one needs money only:

Finance is the life-blood of an enterprise to survive and grow. But for a good idea whose time has come, money is not a problem.

(iv) To be an entrepreneur, a great idea is the only ingredient:

A good or great idea shall remain an idea unless there is proper combination of all the resources including management.

(v) One wants to be an entrepreneur as having no boss is great fun:

It is not only the boss who is demanding; even an entrepreneur faces demanding vendors, investors, bankers and above all customers.

An entrepreneur’s life will be much simpler, since he works for himself. The truth is working for others are simpler than working for oneself. One thinks 24 hours a day to make his venture successful and thus, there would be a punishing schedule.

4 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship: Characteristics, Importance, Types, and Functions of Entrepreneurship

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