Innovations, Entrepreneurship and Profit: How They Are Tied Together

What is Entrepreneurship? When we think of entrepreneurship, what immediately comes to mind are businessmen, and small scale enterprise or businesses. Actually, the definition of entrepreneurship varies depending on the perspective used. It may be a field in business or it may be an activity in which people engage in. Describing the processes involved within it defines what entrepreneurship is. Understanding and seeking innovations, like improving an existing product line, is one of the processes in entrepreneurship. But is not merely innovating, this process should be taken a step further for it to be considered as part of entrepreneurship.

The step further would be to transform the innovation into economic goods, something that will generate income. In entrepreneurship, an individual or a group of individuals identify a business opportunity by finding a prospective or valuable item, product or activity that can be utilized for business and generate sustainable profit. When the market value generated by the business opportunity or innovation is greater than the value of the value of the combination of resources used to create the opportunity or innovation, then there is profit. Profit occurs when the value of the resources used to create a product is increased through innovation.

The definition of entrepreneurship lies in a single but most important concept: discovery. Without discovery and innovation, there will be a stagnation in the market economy as there will be no improvement. Entrepreneurship paves way for economic growth, as it supports economic growth through its discoveries and innovation. Through entrepreneurship, new and better things, processes and systems are created, recreated and uncovered. The creation or discovery does not need to be isolated to new product lines or existing product lines. It can also be applied to methods of production, market, resources or an organization or even an industry. Entrepreneurship can provide solutions for economic stability as it continuously seeks improvement and development of our resources to give them a greater value.

Let’s take the following situations as example of understanding what entrepreneurship is. Check out the following situations:

· A stay at home mom who knows how to cook delicious Indian cuisine starts to sell them to the teachers and staff of the nearby school.

· A downsized employee found another use for old vehicles, designs and fixes them, and made a playground for her pet day care center.

· A scientist discovers a new element but does not attempt to identify practical uses for it.

All of the situations except for that of the scientist show entrepreneurship. Remember that entrepreneurship is discovering or improving new product lines, market, processes, resources or organization. The stay at home mom found a new market in her neighborhood, the nearby school, and she took advantage of it to generate income. The downsized employee developed a new use for old vehicles. The situation with the scientist cannot be considered as entrepreneurship. There was no attempt to generate a market value for the new element as the scientist did not attempt to identify its practical uses. If he created a product with the use of the new element, then that could be identified as entrepreneurship.

After Decades of Conditioning, India Is Re-Aligning Itself With the Culture of Entrepreneurship

Globally, entrepreneurship has become a key engine for employment generation. As policy makers grapple with economic uncertainty and cultural changes, large corporations that traditionally created jobs are biting the dust. From 2003 to 2013, 712 corporations disappeared from the Fortune 1000. One can safely extrapolate that very few Fortune 1000 companies will be around in another 30 to 40 years. However a new breed of risk-takers and innovators in the form of entrepreneurs are beginning to line up on the horizon of business world. According to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, industrial era companies in the US dismissed more jobs than they created in contrast to high-growth startups that created the maximum number of new jobs between 2000 and 2010. Facebook has been credited with having created 4.5 million new jobs, directly and indirectly. This global trend makes a strong case for supporting Indian start-ups and entrepreneurs as a means to create future employment.

However, it is even more important to create a support system that ensures the survival of the start-ups beyond the first five years. In other words, once invested in a start-up, return on investment (ROI) can be assured only when the investment finds further sustenance. This is critical as 70 to 95 percent of start-ups fail or exit, resulting in disproportionately high job destruction. Studies have shown that 47 percent of the jobs created by start-ups are eliminated by exits in the first five years. It is the surviving 53 percent of businesses that witness rapid growth and bring about broad-based job creation.

This means that government policy must be attuned to the practical needs, while addressing the pain areas, of Indian entrepreneurs. The policy must address: funding to be more easily available to entrepreneurs; creating a large pool of experienced mentors and advisers who provide inputs around manpower and resource management, legal and marketing, partnerships and technology; and providing mechanisms to improve access to local and global markets.

It is evident that supporting entrepreneurship is a medium to long-term approach. The question that needs an answer is: what type of entrepreneurship should be prioritized for support so that success and subsequent job creation is assured? Today’s marketplace has become hyper competitive. Just take a look around. There are more choices available to consumers and enterprise buyers than ever before. There are new business models that don’t require buyers to own products or commit up front to long-term subscription of services. Delivery systems have changed, allowing businesses to reach customers in remote locations and new markets, bringing down geographical and political barriers. Entrepreneurs are innovating to give birth to entirely new asset-light business like Uber, Ola, Airbnb, Oyo Rooms, Zomato, Foodpanda, PayPal and Paytm. These businesses are re-shaping entire industries, forcing traditional players to re-think their strategies.

Igniting the spirit of entrepreneurship and sustaining it is also a long-term undertaking. Not everyone is blessed with the DNA of entrepreneurship. A culture of free enterprise needs to be nurtured. Today, one of the nations to have taken positive steps towards creating such a culture is the US where 1,600 colleges offer over 2,200 courses that ‘skill’ students in entrepreneurship. These courses build knowledge through academic studies, practical industry experience via apprenticeship programs, entrepreneurship clubs, boot camps and access to investor networks and support systems. Education, without doubt, is a way to ensure higher success rates for entrepreneurs. In India, we need to create cost-effective and scalable education models that help reach students using video and mobile technology on MOOC platforms that transform teaching into learning, thereby eliminating the need for massive armies of instructors and trainers.

Lastly, a substantial demographic in the form of Indian women remains untapped. Of the total number of entrepreneurs in the country, only 10 percent are women. However, even within these small numbers, women entrepreneurs from India-Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Sulajja Motwani and Ekta Kapoor to name a few-have been in the limelight. Significantly, a Dow Jones study has confirmed that start-ups with female executives have a higher chance of success. What they need to succeed is education, vocational training, access to funding and interaction with entrepreneurs and buyers across the world. According to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), annual growth of the Indian economy could improve 2.4% if the country implements pro-gender policies.

Historically, Indian society and the education system have focused on creating doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. These professionals are a necessity. But after decades of conditioning, the nation is re-aligning itself with the culture of entrepreneurship. We are at the cusp of entrepreneurial success. This opportunity must not be lost for the lack of policy and world-class support systems