Entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets to be cultivated, motivated and remunerated to the greatest possible extent.
Entrepreneurs can change the way we live and work. If successful, their innovations may improve our standard of living. In short, in addition to creating wealth from their entrepreneurial ventures, they also create jobs and the conditions for a prosperous society.
The following are six reasons why entrepreneurs are important to the economy.
Better vision, stronger muscles—expectations can have surprising effects, research finds.
There seems to be a simple way to instantly increase a person’s level of general knowledge. Psychologists Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan recently asked two groups of people to answer questions. People in one group were told that before each question, the answer would be briefly flashed on their screens — too quickly to consciously perceive, but slow enough for their unconscious to take it in. The other group was told that the flashes simply signaled the next question. In fact, for both groups, a random string of letters, not the answers, was flashed. But, remarkably, the people who thought the answers were flashed did better on the test. Expecting to know the answers made people more likely to get the answers right.
Our cognitive and physical abilities are in general limited, but our conceptions of the nature and extent of those limits may need revising. In many cases, thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits.
Upstart automaker Tesla Motors TSLA +3.05% won’t sell as many cars this year as Chevrolet sells in 3 days, but its early success with the all-electric Model S sedan is already keeping the competition up at night. An examination of sales data from across the U.S. and in California for the first half of 2013 paints a picture of just why that is. While Tesla delivered right around 10,000 cars through two quarters, those sales appear to be coming at the expense of BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Porsche. And Tesla’s sales are remarkably — though perhaps not surprisingly — concentrated in California thus far, with nearly half winding up in the Golden State. As the automaker continues to open new sales and service locations across the country while simultaneously growing its network of high-speed Supercharger stations, things are likely to get a bit worse for the imports.
Saturn V SA-506, the space vehicle for the first lunar landing mission, is rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and down the 3.5-mile crawlerway to Launch Complex 39-A. Photo: NASA
Space pioneers, super villains, and delusional architects, get your checkbooks ready. NASA is putting its Mobile Launcher Platforms up for sale, and if you’ve got the cash and a business case, you can snag one of three 4,115-ton space shuttle platforms. But you won’t be able to drive it home.
Built in 1967, the trio of MLPs were designed for the Apollo and Saturn programs, and then modified in the ’70s to support the Space Shuttle. The platforms stand 25 feet tall and measure 160 by 135 feet, with an unladen weight of 8,230,000 pounds. Add on an unfueled Shuttle, and it tops 11 million pounds.
But there’s a problem.
By all counts and measures, Bradley Smith is an unequivocal business success. He’s CEO of Rescue One Financial, an Irvine, California-based financial services company that had sales of nearly $32 million last year. Smith’s company has grown some 1,400 percent in the last three years, landing it at No. 310 on this year’s Inc. 500. So you might never guess that just five years ago, Smith was on the brink of financial ruin–and mental collapse.
Robert Rummells, a U.S. Army Ranger for 22 years, says it was a natural transition when he opened a Mosquito Joe pest-control franchise in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this month.“I’m an outdoor type of guy, and I didn’t want to be chained to my computer in an office, talking on the phone,” said the 49-year-old, who tried jobs such as installing equipment at a community college and simulated firearms training after retiring from the military in 2009. “I learned I needed to work for myself.”
As more former service personnel turn to entrepreneurship, they’re generating jobs that are helping to cut the unemployment rate for veterans to a four-year low of 6.2 percent in April, lower than the 6.9 percent rate for adult non-veterans. The boost to the labor market matters: More than a million Americans are projected by the White House to transition out of the military through 2015.
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Naren Shaam spoke virtually no German and knew only one person in Berlin. That didn’t keep him from founding his travel planning website, GoEuro, there.
“Berlin was the right choice,” said the 30-year-old Harvard Business School graduate, who now has 20 people working for him at his offices in an old industrial building. “I would do it again here.”
Young people like Shaam have made the German capital a global hotbed for startups, drawn by a raw, artsy atmosphere that rivals Brooklyn’s as an icon of global hip. The city is home to 2,500 fledgling tech companies, employing some 30,000 people, according to the Federal Association of German Startups, which was set up in the city last year.
But even as Berlin jostles with London for the title of Europe’s latest Silicon Whatever, a lack of financing threatens its growth. Shaam, for instance, acknowledges that finding backers would have been easier and valuations higher in the U.S. or Britain, though he felt free-wheeling Berlin, with its growing talent pool, was a better fit