An Entrepreneurship Revolution

Posted: July 5, 2015 by Chuck Matthews in People, Startup

Dr. Chuck Matthews“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

                     — John Paul Jones

On a recent trip to Philadelphia as I toured Independence Hall and stood in the very room considered to be the birthplace of the United States, I was reminded of the inseparable connection to commerce and the inevitable revolution at hand. In 1775, a host of economic, policy, and political issues fermented and festered until the colonists clamored for independence from the United Kingdom. It culminated in a secret vote by the Continental Congress declaring independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, quickly followed by the formal publication of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th with delegates stepping up to boldly sign their “treasonous” intentions on August 2nd. Commerce in the colonies was under attack often embodied in repressive taxation that limited both business and individual freedoms.

In his 1999 book, America’s Entrepreneurial Revolution: The Demise of Brontosaurus Capitalism, the late Dr. Jeffry Timmons picked up on this theme noting, “During the last 30 years, America has unleashed the most revolutionary generation the nation has experienced since its founding in 1776. This new generation of entrepreneurs has altered permanently the economic and social structure of this nation – and the world – and has set the ‘entrepreneurial genetic code’ for future generations. It will determine more than any other single impetus how the nation and the world will live, work, learn and lead . . .” Powerful words upon with to reflect as our nation celebrates its 239th birthday.

“… the most revolutionary generation…” Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, many of you may enjoy a beverage from the Boston Beer Company. Native Cincinnatian, Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company, purposefully chose the name Samuel Adams Lager for his flagship brand in 1985. Adams was a brewer by trade, owning and operating his own family business. He organized the Sons of Liberty in Boston and quickly became known by the British as the “most dangerous man in Massachusetts.” While not successful at his early ventures, his entrepreneurial spirit served him well as the founder of The Independent Advertiser and in his stance on independence and later political pursuits, as he would go on to become a four term Governor of Massachusetts.

Borrowing from Samuel Adams’ legacy, Jim Koch knows a thing or two about revolutions and branding. His foresight in creating what would become the craft beer brewing industry we know today was predicated on the notion that the premium beer would revolutionize the industry. Coincidentally, the only competitors in that segment at that time were imported beers and Jim Koch’s goal was to ultimately “overthrow the foreigners.” Jim Koch along with such notable entrepreneurs as Steven Jobs, Walt Disney, Phil Knight, Mary Kay Ash, Nick Woodman, and others, share that legacy of revolutionary entrepreneurism.

“…the ‘entrepreneurial genetic code’ for future generations…” Innovation is born of revolution. It is about new methods, ideas, products, and services that create value for people. Of course, this is not always seen or embraced by others at the outset. In fact, the most common words entrepreneurs hear is “No, that won’t work!”

King Gillette was told by the engineers at MIT that his idea for a non-stoppable, non-honeable, reusable safety razor couldn’t be done. Fred Smith was told his idea for “absolutely positively overnight” package delivery wouldn’t work. Today, Elon Musk has relentlessly pursued his quest for green technology and landing on Mars by 2026. The revolution continues. Interestingly, the technology revolution continues apace as well, fueling our appetite for tech driven change. Each successive generation embraces new technologies and applications of technologies in new and innovative ways. For example, while the concept of the collaborative sharing economy can trace it origins over 50 years ago, recent advances in smart phone technology have accelerated connectivity and peer-to-peer commerce.

“It will determine …. how the nation and the world will live, work, learn and lead.”

Indeed, entrepreneurs are changing and shaping a new future in the U.S. and world economies. Like John Paul Jones, they intend to sail fast into harm’s way. What does the future hold? Much promise for entrepreneurs addressing what the McKinsey Global Institute identifies as four major shifts in how the world economy essentially lives, learns, works, and leads. These include the aging global population, rapidly emerging markets (domestic and global), the loosening flow of world trade and migration, and the breakneck pace of technology. The upside is virtually limitless. Consider 3D printing, advances in energy production, conservation, storage and use, global communication, connectivity, transportation and more.

Entrepreneurs are indeed revolutionaries. Till next time, all the best for continued entrepreneurial success!


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