The last week was painful. Terror attacks in Paris and Lebanon have shaken up the world and indeed I’ve felt shaken up too. As a new Dad, I often think about the world that we are creating for our children to live in.
I can’t help but think what can be done to improve things. Am I doing the right things? Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? Am I doing enough? These questions led me to think about the role entrepreneurship plays in society and on the whole I think it’s a positive one.
My belief is that entrepreneurship plays an important role in the long term improvement of humanity for several reasons:
1. Empathy and self-interest are aligned:
Every entrepreneur who wants to succeed must first get inside the mind of their customer. They must seek out a problem that others have, understand it, inspect it and then solve it. The ability to understand what someone else is feeling, thinking and why they are behaving the way they are is a fundamental skill set in business. In business, paying the bills means solving problems for others. This is a powerful strength to build in more people, the more we learn to empathise, the less harm we inflict on others.
2. Getting along with strangers is essential:
Doing business with people you don’t know is a daily occurrence for every entrepreneur. Buying from a variety of suppliers, selling to new customers and communicating with people you’ve never met is woven into the fabric of business. Every interaction strengthens your ability to communicate and build trust. On a larger scale, every business relies upon peace for it’s existence. Any threat to peace is a threat to all businesses other than those that profit from war.
3. Free thinking is strengthened:
Business owners need to be creative yet critical, shrewd yet emotionally connected, visionary yet observant. To develop these opposing qualities an entrepreneur must become a free thinker. They must become more self aware and able to monitor their reactions to situations. They must think about their thinking. Entrepreneurs must also learn to lengthen their thinking and plan for the future. This combination of self-inspection and long term thinking must be polar opposite to the mindset required to harm others.
4. Society benefits:
When I think about entrepreneurs and business owners I think about the vast majority of people who have small-businesses of less than 50 people. These businesses don’t tend to exploit workers, squander resources or exert power over communities. These small businesses tend to be good for communities, creating jobs, solving problems and raising the standards. These businesses are very much entwined in their local communities and often take part in not-for-profit activities. As businesses grow so do their borders, local businesses start thinking about national and international markets and these new places become part of their community too.
I’m not saying that entrepreneurship is the only solution or even the best solution. I certainly know that there are bad eggs in the entrepreneur community as well who don’t help me make my point. On the whole though I think the entrepreneurial movement is a good thing. I know that for the world to improve, it takes more conscious, considerate and compassionate people and the new breed of entrepreneurs are having to develop these strengths.