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Entrepreneurship as an art  

Steve Blank makes the point that starting businesses is an art, in the sense that the kind of people who start businesses are composers and the people who execute on an early business are performers. This is sensible:

Founders fit the definition of a creator: they see something no one else does. And to help them create it from nothing, they surround themselves with world-class performers. This concept of creating something that few others see - and the reality distortion field necessary to recruit the team to build it - is at the heart of what startup founders do. It is a very different skill than science, engineering, or management.

From there, he builds to a slightly odd conclusion, though:

It may be we can increase the number of founders and entrepreneurial employees, with better tools, more money, and greater education. But it's more likely that until we truly understand how to teach creativity, their numbers are limited.

The conclusion is odd, because it ignores that there is another essential element in increasing the number of practicing artists: opportunity.

Throughout history, things that have increased the artistic throughput have included basics like not having to fight for survival every day, having more leisure time, getting patronage from wealthy people, making it easier for artists to benefit from their works, and so on. Sure, one can make an argument that "true artists" will express their art no matter how unfavourable the circumstances, but not every artist is true by that definition. Having the opportunity certainly plays a large role.

I think it's fair to say that opportunities have been getting better.

Another factor is necessity. Creating a business (startup or not) is fundamentally a commercial act. As the appeal of large company life continues to fade, and they continue to fire large numbers of people and outsource jobs, the necessity for enterprising people to go and do whatever it takes to make some money will keep increasing.

So, I disagree with Steve on his conclusions: I expect many more founders and many more startups in the coming years.

More from the library:
The obvious, the easy and the possible
How to stop startups from failing in 4 common ways
People, processes and tools