Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Entrepreneurship - what is it really?

Dr Abe V Rotor

Dewitt Wallace, the Reader’s Digest founder and president saw a new challenge in journalism during his time, at the turn of industrialization and age of intellectualism. His invention, a concise compact, entertaining and “ humanizing “ piece of journalism, the Readers Digest became the most read and circulated publication ever. And what made Wallace the legend? Not his invention per se but his ability to sell it to millions of readers in 15 editions and 8 languages. We can only imagine of his genius in business.

The great writer and historian James Michener was once asked by his commanding officer what he can do. “I can write the history of this war in South Pacific, Sir," he said with a dream in his eyes. The same question was asked to an engineer also serving in the military camp. “I can rebuild engines, Sir “ he said confidently. Years after the war, the two persons meet. Michener was then a famous writer, his book South Pacific became a best seller book, a box office 
Dewitt Wallace, founder of the Reader's Digest, and Dewitt Wallace Gallery
movie, a song and a drama. The engineer has been rebuilding old engines ever since and has put up a company that specializes in this field.

In business, initiative imagination is like spice in food, enhances palatability, and hence salability. Often the lack of it spoils the other ingredients and therefore, are laid to waste. We lost opportunities to share our knowledge and resources to others because we fail to organize them well and translate them in packages acceptable to those who are in need. Our professions virtually remain only our own because we keep them for ourselves. Even if our intention is not that selfish, unknowingly we have not had the opportunity to complement people because we do not know how to manage or administer these talents and resources. Thus altruism sometimes is unwittingly missed as a virtue by the one who lacks business sense.

Farmers as Entrepreneurs. I had the rare opportunity to teach farmers the newest technology in Agriculture. For me the New World of technology unfolding before my eyes was like a dream. The new rice varieties, the new chemical fertilizers, the revolutionary cropping systems, radioisotopes in tracing soil nutrients, agricultural cooperative schemes patterned after the best coops in the world, tractors, electron microscope, etc. Technology! But who pays for technology? The farmer of course. Can he afford it?

Today we understand why farmers revert to their old ways of farming. They have realized that the net effect of a new technology may cut them into subsistence despite the benefits directly derived from it. Extension service, I am glad, has finally realized the importance of enterprise. And more than that, the economics of agricultural enterprise. If we introduce an innovation, the first consideration then is, “Will the farmers improve their lives? Will it affect directly their business? Does it have consequences that insure them a better future?"

A new CPA was asked why she chose this career. She said she would like to work as an accountant. And work she found – accountant of a foreign firm. Years later, the lady saw the larger realm of accounting.

Today she is a partner of an auditing firm serving well known government agencies and Makati-based business firms. She has indeed successfully combined the disciplines of accountancy and business administration. ~

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