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Entrepreneurship as Spiritual Practice

What problem are you trying to solve? 

Entrepreneurship as Spiritual Practice

© istock.com/Naphat_Jorjee

That's usually the first question asked of entrepreneurs, and it's an important one. Greater clarity about the challenge fosters greater understanding of the market. But the more fundamental question is, What resources will you leverage? 

This question is key because entrepreneurship, at its heart, is about seeing assets — gifts, strengths, skills, aptitude, potential, passion, energy, momentum — that already exist yet are so easy to overlook or discount; and then, baptized by this vision, to maximize these assets. 

The classical definition of entrepreneurship, put forward by Jean Baptiste Say around 1800, asserts that entrepreneurs move resources from a lower to a higher area of market value by increasing the yield or productivity of the resources.

Think about that for a moment. Entrepreneurs do not create out of thin air. They do not invent, if invention is making something that never existed before. What entrepreneurs do, first and foremost, is pay attention to what's already present. 

If that sounds like a kind of awareness, even mindfulness, embrace that definition. If the notion of seeing and acting on value that others discount sounds odd, even foolish, embrace that, too. 

In this regard, entrepreneurship is an undertaking that doesn't add up in the normal accounting of the dominant culture. That's why it is risky. That's why it requires conviction and intention. 

This line of thinking leads me to define entrepreneurship as a spiritual practice. It is an activity that helps one make meaning: to see the inherent value in all people and all things. It is an activity that inspires action: to receive gifts as well as purpose beyond one's self, and with these provisions to venture into the world with hope.