An entrepreneur is a person who takes an idea for a product or service, reflects on risks and opportunities, gathers resources, plans and implements the idea. Entrepreneurship is also closely linked to the concept of innovation - a pair of concepts that has been increasingly used in both business economics and politics since the 1980s. Entrepreneur can also be used as a term for an enterprising person. The term usually refers to the founder of a company. In a broader sense, the term is used about a person who is driving and working hard to achieve success. Entrepreneurship can also occur within existing companies and is then called intrapreneurship.
The term entrepreneur has its origins in medieval France and was a name for the commander over a larger or smaller number of mercenaries. In the Middle Ages, the princes had no standing armies, but the most common was that warfare was outsourced. Later, the term has been expanded to include companies in a variety of industries, companies that undertake assignments that have been outsourced by others, for example in the construction sector, elderly care, operation and maintenance or public transport. The original meaning in the Swedish language is a person who undertakes to perform contract work, or a theater director. Entrepreneurship can be defined as "the ability to identify opportunities and create resources to take advantage of these opportunities". Entrepreneurship gets something to change direction and create change. New angles are found and developed. An entrepreneur creates new businesses and organizes the market in a new way.
According to the neoclassical theory established by Joseph Schumpeter, an entrepreneur is a creator of "creative destruction" in the market (i.e. upsets the balance between supply and demand) which creates "chaotic markets" and makes the entrepreneur a person who creates demand in a market.
Although entrepreneurship is most often associated with starting a business and achieving high growth and financial gain, the term also includes other types of activities and organizations such as public activities, social entrepreneurship and non-profit organizations. Entrepreneurship is thus more about changing structures than running a successful company.
Entrepreneurship as a process
There is an established critique of the individual-focused perspective on entrepreneurship, where circumstances such as networking, culture and teamwork are instead emphasized as central explanatory factors behind successful entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship has begun to be re-evaluated from being something an individual does, an entrepreneur, to being more process-oriented with many actors involved. Entrepreneurship is a social activity made possible by a network of resources. It is a process that is intertwined and interacts with different societal structures such as the social, the market, different institutions and geography. The entrepreneurial process is non-linear and thus difficult to describe in a model with start and end. The process can be likened to an ecosystem for contextualising the complex and reciprocal social system that develops in the entrepreneurial process.
Looking at the context of entrepreneurship thus becomes important. Context is the context in which the entrepreneurial process develops. It can be the historical context, the social context (eg norms and the family situation) and the geographical context where entrepreneurship meets various obstacles and opportunities in e.g. the countryside and the city. Events, impressions and emotional connection to places an important aspect, which can intervene in entrepreneurial processes in different ways