Who is an entrepreneur? We often think of businessmen like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates as entrepreneurs, but is it possible there might be an entrepreneur living next door?
In my previous two posts I explained how entrepreneurship is an act of creation and listed the traits entrepreneurs must have to be successful. It is possible for anyone to create and have the necessary traits since we are all created in God’s image. When we examine the wealthiest people of the world, we see all sorts of personalities, backgrounds, and levels of education. Their common characteristics are the traits I describe in my previous post, not where they went to school.
However, it is a mistake to focus only on the very financially accomplished. Ordinary people all around us are engaging in the entrepreneurial process in some way. Entrepreneurship is not only about business; it is about creating and innovating. Perhaps no other phenomenon exemplifies this like the early years of home schooling.
Successful home schooling requires creativity, vision, faith, perseverance, sacrifice, and service. It is truly an entrepreneurial endeavor.
If you talk to the earliest home school families, you will find that they do not consider themselves to be entrepreneurs, because common usage defines the term too narrowly as a business endeavor. Early home school families were not thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs. They wanted what they considered to be a better education for their children. Because of their creativity, vision, dedication, and hard work, they qualify as entrepreneurs.
Vision and Faith
Many Christian home school families got their vision to start a home school from Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
While this verse is not new, its application in the light of the troubles in the public school system–such as increased violence and declining academics–seemed to be clear to some Christian families who thought that something different in education was possible and essential. They had a vision of a better education experience for their children as well as a faith that pursuing this vision was God’s will and that he would give them the skills and tools to accomplish the mission.
The early home school families certainly had to persevere. They faced a hostile political and legal environment that had to be challenged and changed in some states for home schooling to even be allowed. For example, some court cases falsely charged home schooling parents with neglect, truancy, and abuse.
The National Education Association (NEA) still attempts to restrict home education, as expressed in Resolution B-68 , adopted at the 1988 NEA conference and affirmed several times since. The resolution states:
Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.
Though today’s home schoolers do not face as much legal adversity as in the past, they must still navigate occasional, unwarranted legal prosecution and comply with often restrictive state laws.
Sacrifice and Service
There is significant sacrifice in choosing to home school. For instance, public school provides an essentially free education. Additionally, public education includes a number of benefits, providing families with center of social interaction and network-building.
Home school families must walk away from all of this, incur a number of out-of pocket expenses, and invest a significant amount of time in establishing their educational program. At times, it even means losing a second income, and it certainly changes family dynamics. Parents make these sacrifices in order to serve their children, who they view as their primary mission-field.
Clearly, this case study of home schooling shows that many people qualify as entrepreneurs, but it does take an endowment of traits. The same is true of entrepreneurial action.
Possessing mere creativity is not enough; we all have this quality to some degree. It is not enough to have a vision, as we can all imagine how the world could be improved in some way. One must have a vision as well as the faith to act on it. Moreover, we must persevere, running our race to the end so that we can serve others, even at great sacrifice.
This combination of qualities comprises entrepreneurship as well as the approach for an effective and productive Christian life.
What are other ways in which ordinary people are entrepreneurs? Leave your comments here.