Risky Business

Defining The Role And Tasks Of An Entrepreneur

 
 
 
In a 1929 photo, Thomas A. Edison shows a new incandescent lamp, at left, while holding a replica of his first model, from 1879. Credit: UPI

 

How can CEOs drive revenue growth? With many challenges on the horizon, they must unleash the entrepreneurial energies within their organizations. Although some of this will be shaped by external conditions, shareholders are not known for their patience when it comes to returns. In this first part in a three-part series on entrepreneurship and the CIO, we set the scene by exploring the definitions of an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial tasks, doing the same for two distinct, but oftentimes connected, supporting roles.

Is any person who runs a business an entrepreneur? In short, no. An entrepreneur is a person who takes on the responsibilities and risks of allocating resources under his or her care to capture opportunities in markets or industries that are tomorrow’s businesses and tomorrow’s stars. Sometimes, this practice occurs in businesses that are considered “media darlings.” Sometimes, it happens in businesses that are quite mundane. However, in all cases, the goal of the entrepreneur is to capture the financial gains that result from successfully executing on an opportunity.

An entrepreneur is someone who constantly strives to take the assets under his or her command or care and transform them into new value that provides a distinct competitive advantage. They are willing, if not driven, to leverage innovation to win and sustain this advantage.

It is important to distinguish between entrepreneurship and two other concepts that travel in very close orbit with it: innovation and strategic change.