Entrepreneur not dirty word

ENTREPRENEUR is not a dirty word says Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship school director Graeme Herps.

With the on-paper empires of Christopher Skase, Alan Bond and countless other high fliers gone, entrepreneurship got a bad name.

But Mr Herps said entrepreneurs were proving to be a very valuable social resource, especially in the US.

“The prolonged prosperity in the US has come about through the interface between new age entrepreneurs and high technology,” he said. “Something like 92 per cent of the total wealth in the US has been created in the past 10 years.”

Mr Herps said that Australia did not value its entrepreneurs.

“In the US it is not wrong to make a business mistake. It’s only wrong to make the same one twice,” he said. “In Australia it’s one mistake and you’re out.”

Mr Herps said Australian entrepreneurs were going to the US because it had a larger, more integrated market and a very sophisticated venture capital industry. He said the US venture capital industry offered more than just money.

“When you go to venture capital firms in the US, many take on a holistic management role in your company,” Mr Herps said.

“In the US, companies linked with some of the venture capital firms are fast tracked to success because they are dealing with highly skilled people. And those venture capital firms only take on the winners.”

The University of WA’s Management Development Institute managing director Zelko Lendich said a lot of large corporations were trying to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in their staff.

“It’s the difference between reinventing the organisation and staying current with what the market needs, rather than just doing what the company has always done,” Mr Lendich said.

“But the company has to change its culture. It has got to accept risk takers and be forgiving of mistakes.”

He said some companies were now working on the products that will be used in five years’ time.

“Entrepreneurs usually come from small teams rather than big bureaucracies. They are usually in spin-off small divisions,” Mr Lendich said.

“Many organisations are trying very hard to develop the ability to think creatively and innovatively. They are trying to push the decision making further down the organisation.”

Mr Lendich said small business — to some extent — was the bastion of entrepreneurship.

“It’s amazing how survival brings out many qualities in people that they don’t seem to show when they’re comfortable,” he said.

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