"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." T.S. Eliot
It is a quick step from that saying to the word "entrepreneur," which is thought to have debuted in the English language in 1800 to describe a person who sets up a business venture and in so doing assumes responsibility for the inherent risks involved. Over the years, popular culture has characterized entrepreneurs as outsiders, renegades or geeky inventors.1 Today, they are strongly associated with innovative products and services.
Traditional institutes of higher learning, such as Britain's Oxford University, have embraced the importance of entrepreneurship. Its Säid Business School features an entrepreneurship centre and a business park. Countries ranging from India to Israel, Denmark and Singapore are nurturing home-grown entrepreneurs and working hard to attract ones from abroad.2
Such activities are more than just a fad as the economic reality of entrepreneurism is perhaps best exemplified in the United States. Although entrepreneurs do not work for small business exclusively, they are usually the starting point for such risk takers. In that country, it is estimated that small businesses— those with fewer than 100 employees—account for 50% of private sector employees, and 60% to 80% of annual employment growth.3
Does this current economic climate of tight credit, declining venture capital investment and high levels of risk adversity spell a dramatic slowdown in entrepreneurial progress? The challenges are very real, but some would argue the opposite may be true based on developments in information technology and the ripple effects of recession. Cellphones, the Internet and web-based technologies are barrier breakers for entrepreneurs and are credited with helping "democratize" business. Capital remains a start-up requirement, but technology has made it possible to achieve more with less funding. Entrepreneurs also see this time as providing opportunities to access talent and physical space that would have been beyond reach two years ago.4
These themes are reinforced by a recent study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that indicates more than half of the companies on the "2009 Fortune 500" list were launched during a recession or bear market. While thousands of small businesses will always operate in relative obscurity, others such as Research In Motion Ltd., Microsoft Corporation and General Electric Company grow to be household names.5
Our business thrives on information and new ideas backed by sound research and a disciplined investment process. In turn, as part of the Franklin Templeton Investments global organization, we share a long-standing tradition of innovation that includes our leadership role in introducing tax-efficient corporate class funds. Call it entrepreneurial spirit or our constant commitment to progress, the results mean you have access to leading portfolio opportunities that can help you achieve your investment goals.
(1) Global heroes," The Economist, March 12, 2009.
(2)"Lands of opportunity," The Economist, March 12, 2009.
(3) "Small Business by the Numbers," Enterpreneur.com, June 2004.
(4) "Kauffman Foundation Study Finds more than Half of Fortune 500 Companies were Founded in Recession or Bear Market," Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, June 9, 2009.