Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, which can be defined as "one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods". This may result in new organizations or may be part of revitalizing mature organizations in response to a perceived opportunity. The most obvious form of entrepreneurship is that of starting new businesses (referred as Startup Company); however, in recent years, the term has been extended to include social and political forms of entrepreneurial activity. When entrepreneurship is describing activities within a firm or large organization it is referred to as intra-preneurship and may include corporate venturing, when large entities spin-off organizations.s According to Paul Reynolds, entrepreneurship scholar and creator of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, "by the time they reach their retirement years, half of all working men in the United States probably have a period of self-employment of one or more years; one in four may have engaged in self-employment for six or more years. Participating in a new business creation is a common activity among U.S. workers over the course of their careers." And in recent years has been documented by scholars such as David Audretsch to be a major driver of economic growth in both the United States and Western Europe.
Entrepreneurial activities are substantially different depending on the type of organization and creativity involved. Entrepreneurship ranges in scale from solo projects (even involving the entrepreneur only part-time) to major undertakings creating many job opportunities. Many "high value" entrepreneurial ventures seek venture capital or angel funding (seed money) in order to raise capital to build the business. Angel investors generally seek annualized returns of 20-30% and more, as well as extensive involvement in the business. Many kinds of organizations now exist to support would-be entrepreneurs including specialized government agencies, business incubators, science parks, and some NGOs. In more recent times, the term entrepreneurship has been extended to include elements not related necessarily to business formation activity such as conceptualizations of entrepreneurship as a specific mindset (see also entrepreneurial mindset) resulting in entrepreneurial initiatives e.g. in the form of social entrepreneurship, political entrepreneurship, or knowledge entrepreneurship have emerged.
The entrepreneur is a factor in microeconomics, and the study of entrepreneurship reaches back to the work of Richard Cantillon and Adam Smith in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, but was largely ignored theoretically until the late 19th and early 20th centuries and empirically until a profound resurgence in business and economics in the last 40 years.
In the 20th century, the understanding of entrepreneurship owes much to the work of economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s and other Austrian economists such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek. In Schumpeter, an entrepreneur is a person who is willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation. Entrepreneurship employs what Schumpeter called "the gale of creative destruction" to replace in whole or in part inferior innovations across markets and industries, simultaneously creating new products including new business models. In this way, creative destruction is largely responsible for the dynamism of industries and long-run economic growth. The supposition that entrepreneurship leads to economic growth is an interpretation of the residual in endogenous growth theory and as such is hotly debated in academic economics. An alternate description posited by Israel Kirzner suggests that the majority of innovations may be much more incremental improvements such as the replacement of paper with plastic in the construction of a drinking straw.
For Schumpeter, entrepreneurship resulted in new industries but also in new combinations of currently existing inputs. Schumpeter's initial example of this was the combination of a steam engine and then current wagon making technologies to produce the horseless carriage. In this case the innovation, the car, was transformational but did not require the development of a new technology, merely the application of existing technologies in a novel manner. It did not immediately replace the horsedrawn carriage, but in time, incremental improvements which reduced the cost and improved the technology led to the complete practical replacement of beast drawn vehicles in modern transportation. Despite Schumpeter's early 20th-century contributions, traditional microeconomic theory did not formally consider the entrepreneur in its theoretical frameworks (instead assuming that resources would find each other through a price system). In this treatment the entrepreneur was an implied but unspecified actor, but it is consistent with the concept of the entrepreneur being the agent of x-efficiency.
Different scholars have described entrepreneurs as, among other things, bearing risk. For Schumpeter, the entrepreneur did not bear risk: the capitalist did.
For Frank H. Knight (1921) and Peter Drucker (1970) entrepreneurship is about taking risk. The behavior of the entrepreneur reflects a kind of person willing to put his or her career and financial security on the line and take risks in the name of an idea, spending much time as well as capital on an uncertain venture. Knight classified three types of uncertainty.
The acts of entrepreneurship are often associated with true uncertainty, particularly when it involves bringing something really novel to the world, whose market never exists. However, even if a market already exists, there is no guarantee that a market exists for a particular new player in the cola category.
The place of the disharmony-creating and idiosyncratic entrepreneur in traditional economic theory (which describes many efficiency-based ratios assuming uniform outputs) presents theoretic quandaries. William Baumol has added greatly to this area of economic theory and was recently honored for it at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Economic Association.
The entrepreneur is widely regarded as an integral player in the business culture of American life, and particularly as an engine for job creation and economic growth. Robert Sobel published The Entrepreneurs: Explorations Within the American Business Tradition in 1974. Zoltan Acs and David Audretsch have produced an edited volume surveying Entrepreneurship as an academic field of research, and more than a hundred scholars around the world track entrepreneurial activity, policy and social influences as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and its associated reports.
Though Entrepreneurs are thought to have many of the same character traits as leaders,[clarification needed], involve particular psychological dispositions, or operate in purely business spheres of life, recent European theorising on the subject has suggested that, come the era of neo-liberalism and 'big society' politics that promote conceptualising humans as economic agents per se, normal, everyday people usually marginalised from the term 'entrepreneur' are too involved in the very same kind of processes that 'big business', proper entrepreneurs are involved with. Entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship, as such, might be enacted by anybody, encountering as they do economic uncertainty on an everyday basis.