Entrepreneurship is about creating something that ought to exist in the world

In Richard Branson’s book, Business stripped bare, right at the beginning, Branson tells about an interview with Dan Rather, where he asks something along the lines of:

So, Richard, why did you decide to become a business man?

(I’m paraphrasing here, because I don’t have the book with me.)

And Richard was shocked, because he’d never considered himself to be a business man. In fact, he’d never wanted to become one.

Instead, he’d wanted to create things in the world.

I think that’s a much better view of entrepreneurship.

These days, there’s so much talk about entrepreneurship being the key to the economic survival of nations (which I wholeheartedly believe it is), but I think the whole focus on financial incentives is a dead end.

Sure, it might work. But it’s very wasteful.

I’d much rather we invite would-be-entrepreneurs to think about what they think or feel ought to exist in the world that doesn’t exist today.

I remember seeing the interview Evan Williams at SXSW last year, and how it seemed like he honestly didn’t care about the valuation of Twitter or the race with Facebook or any of that stuff that the industry media seemed to care so much about. “Vendor sports” as Doc Searls usually calls it.

What he seemed to care about was creating a tool for people to interact with each other in ways that weren’t possible before, and that made his own life richer because he knew he’d been a part of that.

If we could shift the focus to the creation rather than the potential financial reward, I think we’d do not just would-be entrepreneurs but also the societies that hope to benefit from them a huge service.

Don’t you think?