The Many Faces of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is defined as " the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control".  This is relevant for entrepreneurs, no matter what their opportunity is.  But entrepreneurship is not just about starting your own business, as many people wrongly assume.  There are many different forms of entrepreneurship.

Babson College has a great interactive page on their site, which allows users to add their definition of entrepreneurship.  The interesting part is that most of the definitions do not relate to any one sector or field of study; they do not regurgitate a "typical" business definition of entrepreneurship, but instead talk about opportunity, dreams and future.  This breaks down a lot of the barriers for people who are scared of the word "entrepreneurship" and only think about starting a business when this word is mentioned.

Within an academic setting, you can find different aspects to entrepreneurship, depending on which field of study you are in.  Students and researchers in a science or medical field may take a more traditional approach to entrepreneurship, commercialising research or spinning out a company, whereas a student or researcher from the humanities or social sciences may go down the route of consulting, or cultural or creative entrepreneurship. However there are no hard and fast rules around this, and there are many examples of entrepreneurs with diverse background working on varied startups.   Across all fields, and becoming more and more mainstream, is social entrepreneurship.

A great collaborative quote from within Oxford University is as follows:

"Intellectual innovation is at the heart of Oxford's history and future. The collegiate system is premised on the idea of technical, social and cultural advance through brilliant interdisciplinarity. There are many ways in which creative thinking and lateral connections can benefit our research and teaching. The ability to communicate and negotiate between ideas and people, which is at the heart of academic life, has enormous potential for wider application.   Innovation means encouraging students and researchers to exchange knowledge across disciplinary and institutional boundaries, to take risks, and to realise the latent potential of their intellectual capital.  The impacts of our innovation may take many forms, including  entrepreneurial activity, social enterprise, or cultural engagement, but all share their roots in a commitment to creative and lateral ways of thinking, connecting and problem-solving. " 

An except from the Stanford Social Innovation Review explains about social versus cultural entrepreneurship: 

Social entrepreneurs solve problems by disrupting existing systems, as microfinance has, or through breakthrough product design, like the solar powered lights from d.light design or Barefoot Power. Cultural entrepreneurs, on the other hand, solve problems by disrupting belief systems—using television shows like Glee to initiate viewers into the disability or GLBTQ rights frameworks or the Twitter campaign #mensaythingstome, designed to expose anonymous misogyny online.”

Think about your values, your skills and your passions, and that will be a good starting point for anything entrepreneurial, no matter your field of study or research.