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1.20 Do Goals Differentiate?

We strongly question the fundamental assumption that the principal goals of an entrepreneurial venture are profitability and growth. We believe these may result from doing something else well and these are consequences of those goals being achieved. For some, wealth may be the primary goal, but not always. If wealth is the only goal, one is reminded of the response of the famous Jesse James of the Wild West of the United States in the 1800s when asked why he robbed banks, his answer being “that is where the money is.” We are not suggesting that bank robbery is entrepreneurial, but one can certainly think of it being easier than starting a company and waiting years for revenue or profits to arrive.

If profitability is the goal, this would leave quite a few firms considered entrepreneurial outside the category of entrepreneurial. Most Kirznerian entrepreneurs would be defined as small business owners. If we are to take these definitions and apply them into today’s world, we will have problems in defining Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter as entrepreneurial (although many would certainly view him as one—and a successful one). Consider this quote from an article in Newsweek, October 20, 2008:

  • . . . consider that Twitter, a “micro-blogging” site launched in 2006, earlier this year raised a reported $15 million in venture funding at an undisclosed valuation—even though the company hasn’t made a dime so far and its managers aren’t trying to. “We’re pre-revenue. We’re focused on growth.”

Yet, we know that when this founder sold off Twitter, he became a billionaire. The goal was not apparently firm profitability, but to drive up valuation so that the owner could exit and create his own wealth, that is, personal profitability. Perhaps this is a legal form of bank robbery.

It should be obvious at this point that it is no easy exercise to define entrepreneurship or define an entrepreneur. It should also be clear that we highly question the requirement of economic wealth creation as the primary goal. For example, Johannisson (2005) has seen the entrepreneur as existentially motivated. That is, entrepreneurship is seen as a way of life, involving total commitment by the individual. Perhaps that would explain those entrepreneurs who start seven business ventures in a lifetime. This to our minds points at other possible goals and desires that are involved in entrepreneurship, as we pointed out in Carsrud and Brännback (2011). In other words, goals serve as an important part of entrepreneurial motivation.

1.20.1 A Mini-Case Example

For example of a motivated entrepreneur, let us look at one arts and social entrepreneur in Florida we know well, Patrick Dupre Quigley.

  • Patrick was trained as a classical musician at Notre Dame University and later at Yale University. He has worked closely with Michael Tilson Thomas the famous conductor. Interestingly, he also had worked at various marketing and public relations firms while in school and knew that there had to be a different way to make classical music accessible. He had a clear goal: to create a sustainable classical music group in the South Florida market. Miami, despite having a new and magnificent concert hall and state-of-the-art opera/ballet house, had seen many of its classical music groups struggle and/or fail like the Florida Philharmonic.
  • It became obvious to Patrick that the cost of such organizations including those of full-time musicians could not be maintained with the traditional model of concert revenues and donations. He also realized that younger audiences were not going to sit through classical concerts that were much over ninety minutes in length. He also knew that there were many excellent freelance musicians, especially singers, who he could bring in, pay them well for a given concert series and once the concert series was over they would return to their homes or go to their next gig. The result of his efforts has been one of the few profitable non-profit arts organizations in Florida, Seraphic Fire and its related orchestra (www.SeraphicFire.org).

We see this example as one where have a clear goal can motivate an entrepreneur, in this case a social entrepreneur in the arts arena. The point is that Patrick saw a need and had a goal to address that need. The result has been pure joy for those of us who have attended his concerts, or bought the CDs, or downloaded the music his groups have performed.

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