Changing the definition of an entrepreneur

Are today’s entrepreneurs just rich kids? “When basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative; when you know you have a safety net, you are more willing to take risks,” writes Aimee Groth in Quartz.

Groth makes an important point about today’s cult of the entrepreneur, that many are rich white kids from privileged backgrounds.

Indeed, it’s striking when interviewing them how many of today’s entrepreneurs come from banking or management consulting backgrounds, which explains why so many of the business ideas revolve around fixing upper middle class problems such as food delivery services or hire cars.

What’s also intriguing is how the definition of an entrepreneur has changed. Just over a generation ago it was more commonly associated with the entertainment industry, someone like a concert promoter, band manager or even circus proprietor.

The 19th Century definition of ‘entrepreneur’ is probably closer to the current meaning where it was applied to the budding railway and steel tycoons building their empires.

Many of the 19th Century entrepreneurs turned out to be either hopeless romantics or charlatans and no doubt many of today’s ‘unicorns’ will prove to be similar. In some respects things never change.