“Extreme Entrepreneurship” on Tour

Inc. Magazine writes about a couple (in both senses of the word) of entrepreneurs with drive. These are the kind of people we would generally think of as “real” entrepreneurs: they had their own companies as very young, worked several jobs while still using the time in college to publish their own books — all while starting a speaking business on entrepreneurship. The latter has developed into a national “tour” organizing 100 entrepreneur events every year.

While this is an interesting story of what greatness is possible if you only have drive and a willingness to try, it hints at a problem with (the study of) entrepreneurship today. If this kind of drive and effectiveness is denoted “extreme” entrepreneurship, then the term “entrepreneurship” has become all too broad — and perhaps all-encompassing. There is a potential lesson buried here for research in entrepreneurship that strikes at the very core of the definition and understanding of the concept. And it asks us to think about what is the basic unit of analysis in our research – and what do we expect to learn from studying it?

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2 Responses to “Extreme Entrepreneurship” on Tour

  1. SkepticProf says:

    In my opinion, these guys are exceedingly obnoxious about marketing themselves (lots of spam e-mails, etc) to anyone who’s expressed even the slightest interest, but who hasn’t yet purchased the (fairly expensive) product.

    Maybe that sort of shamelessness/callousness is required to be a successful entrepreneur, but my perception was that they didn’t care about people who weren’t using their services yet.

    I also don’t know of any campuses who said “Wow, that was the best experience ever! Let’s have them back every year!” It might be a revolution in entrepreneurial education, but may very well be a product that each campus consumes once, pays for, and then says “never, ever again.”

  2. Per Bylund says:

    @SkepticProf: That may be the case and such aggressive-obnoxious marketing should oftentimes (in my experience) turn out to be a self-defeating strategy. But the point I was making was that the kind of far-above-average drive and willingness/ability to bring projects to fruition is simply entrepreneurship – which is “extreme” in itself – and not an “extreme” form of entrepreneurship. We will not be able to say much about the workings of the market if we include all not employed as “entrepreneurs,” in which case we would have to see the Coasean “atomistic competition” or Williamsonian “in the beginning there were markets” as 100%-entrepreneurs-markets. Such a broad definition literally strips the concept of its potential explanatory power and makes it pretty much useless…

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