Entrepreneurship is often seen not just as an approach to business but as a way of life. In the process of writing Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek interviewed 55 successful entrepreneurs from a variety of industries, both for-profit and nonprofit.
U.S. News spoke with Vanourek, who has run a consulting firm and worked in the education sector, about how there’s competitive–and personal–advantage to be gained from pursuing entrepreneurship as a way of life.
In your book, you define entrepreneurship as something more than just starting your own business.
I think a lot of people confuse owning a small business with entrepreneurship. They are closely related but not exactly the same thing. Most definitions of entrepreneurship include this notion of innovation. It’s possible for a small-business owner to take the existing model and do the same thing. Innovation and entrepreneurship really go hand in hand. You can’t be entrepreneurial without being innovative.
We define the entrepreneurial way as opportunity recognition, innovation, and action. A lifelong entrepreneur is creating a life of significance through opportunity recognition, innovation, and action.
You don’t have to be a business entrepreneur or social entrepreneur to be a life entrepreneur. You can live your life in an entrepreneurial way and work for corporate America, or be a small-business owner who we wouldn’t think of as entrepreneurial in the pure sense.
Photo by Michael Bonfigli.