Posted by kari.petroschmidt
So that’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of distrust there. Historically ‘entrepreneurship’ has not been seen as inspirational, or as Art but rather viewed with suspicion and derision, considered more lowly than the comparatively honourable professions of law and medicine (for example).
Though we’re a materially obsessed culture and we love to make/spend money, business, the entity that provides us with all these pleasures, still receives a bad rap. Naturally, we all dislike corporations invading our public spaces with advertising. The vast majority of us feel there’s something fundamentally wrong with businesses being granted the right to freedom of speech that natural human beings enjoy (as in America’s, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), thus enabling them to monetarily influence electoral campaigns. We don’t like the effect of business on the environment. So many of us are still seeing business, and particularly big business, as the problem, despite our collective addiction to its products. In this way, our sense of the questionable profiteering practices of ‘business entrepreneurship’ are pretty evident. ‘Social entrepreneurship’ has acted to some extent in moderating our attitudes towards the word ‘entrepreneurship’ in general, but it comes with its own problems. We can talk all we like about ‘changing the world’, ‘being the change we want to see’, but this kind of emotive rhetoric often fails to address the complexities of the world we live in and can often end up being hypocritical and elitist.
Yet it is through entrepreneurship that some of our most creative endeavours have manifested themselves. And this can come in any form; an iPad (yes, despite some of Apple’s more dubious practices), a board game to raise the EQ of New Zealand’s children (Sharon Cunningham’s idea from Audacious 2011), a genuine coffee and cinnamon liqueur (Arjun Haszard), a computer game (David Wilson), a magazine, a fashion label (such as Undone in Dunedin), an ap (Mason Griffiths), like literally ANYTHING. And I would contend it is only through business, and particularly big business, that some of the most significant problems facing our generation will be solved. From the environment to youth unemployment, to the kind of disaffected, disillusioned generation that could spawn Hipster culture.
“Yet it is through entrepreneurship that some of our most creative endeavours have manifested themselves.”
That’s why we don’t call the ‘entrepreneurs’ coming out of Audacious, ‘entrepreneurs’. They’re starters. Founders. People wanting to do something, either for themselves or for society at large. To change something, be autonomous and/or create something of meaning and significance. For some, it will be about the money. For others the social change aspect will predominate. But in all instances starting up is about having the courage to do something for yourself, to be a force in the universe. Despite its flaws, its something to be embraced, especially as we’re increasingly beginning to expect a certain level of social consciousness from business. Also, the language of a ‘starter’ or ‘founder’ speaks to the fact that is an avenue open to anyone, not just the risk prone individual or ‘enlightened’ character. Still, as you can probably glean from my writing, I’m partial to the articulations of the ‘social entrepreneur’. Perhaps it’s overly simplistic. Cheesy, even. But life’s too short not to embrace the aspiration and positivity that such language relates. So long as our actions are consistent with the words we speak.