Entrepreneurship is vital to our well-being

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

By WAYNE CURTIS / Guest Columnist

Entrepreneurship is a fancy word we rarely use. But the concept it embodies is vitally important to the well-being of the nation.

Entrepreneurs — the term generally means to undertake — are the individuals who create new products or services or improve existing ones. Moreover, they take their innovations to the marketplace and assume and manage the risks of business ventures.

When we normally think of entrepreneurs, we visualize computer wizards such as Steven Jobs or Bill Gates. But they come in all sizes and shapes.

They undertake a variety of activities. Some start new businesses. Others create new or improved technology.

Some seek wealth or fame. Others desire to improve the quality of life of mankind.
Entrepreneurs stake their reputations on their innovations. And in many cases, they put all their financial resources at risk as well.

They flourish in market-directed economies that allow individuals, not government, to make decisions about how to use most of their economic resources. The potential for profit, or economic gain, provides incentives for entrepreneurs to develop and market new ideas, products, and services.

Economic growth results from entrepreneurial activity. Innovation begets more innovation. New products or services often come into being to enhance recently introduced items.

Look at what the development of high-speed computers brought forth. They opened the door for the Internet. And this has created an entirely new way for people to communicate, obtain information and conduct business activity.

We have to remember that entrepreneurs never know if something will succeed or fail. This underscores the importance of risk taking.

As a nation, we must continue to encourage entrepreneurship. The most appropriate avenue is to provide a climate of individual freedom and create policies that encourage innovation. At the same time, individuals must be allowed to consume the fruits of their endeavors.

If this does not occur, fewer people will engage in wealth creation. And the nation will suffer.

Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank. He may be reached by e-mail at wc_curtis@yahoo.com.