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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

The Greatest Invention

Three engineers are having a discussion on the greatest invention of all time. The first, an engineer from MIT, says “The greatest invention was fire. Fire led to the development of the engine, which led to the industrial revolution, which brought about the modern age.”

The second, an engineer from Stanford, says, “While fire certainly has merit, the greatest invention is the wheel. The wheel led to the development of other tools and ultimately the industrial revolution and the modern age.”

The third, an engineer from Texas A&M, says, “Well, both those are nice and everything, but the greatest invention is the thermos.” Both other engineers are stunned and yell, “The THERMOS?” The Aggie engineer says, “Yeah, it keeps hot food hot and it keeps cold food cold.”

Finally, one of his friends says, “So?” He looks at both of them and says, “How does it know which is which?”

It was physicist William Pollard that said, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

Have we innovated? Well we no longer have the butcher, the baker and candlestick makers; we have Wal-Mart & Amazon. The buggy whip gave way to the stick shift. The pony express gave way to the telegraph gave way to the telephone that lead to the mobile phone that gave us email, then on to social media—you get the idea.

All this innovation is delivered by one single mechanism— entrepreneurship (defined as the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which typically begins as a small business, such as a startup company, offering a product, process or service for sale or hire).

“Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship. It drives everything: Job creation, poverty alleviation, innovation.” ~ Elliot Bisnow

Let’s look at the fundamentals of becoming an entrepreneur through the most basic of lenses. The basics are very simple; you don’t need an MBA (keep the $80,000 tuition), venture capital, or even a detailed plan. You just need a product (or service), a group of people are willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid.

This can be broken down as follows:

1. Product or service: what you sell

2. People willing to pay for it: your customers

3. A way to get paid: how you’ll exchange a product or service for money

If you have a group of interested people but nothing to sell, you don’t have a business. If you have something to sell but no one willing to buy it, you don’t have a business. In both cases, without a clear and easy way for customers to pay for what you offer, you don’t have a business. Put the three together, and congratulations— you’re now an entrepreneur.

And for the record, I do NOT think the thermos was the greatest invention of all time, I believe that entrepreneurship is.  


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