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Entrepreneurship: Case of Oprah Winfrey

Introduction

Entrepreneurship has been a key mechanism for bringing progress to society throughout centuries of history. The great Industrial Revolution between the 1780s and 1849 in Europe showed the unprecedented potential for change brought by industrialists. Nowadays, the concept of entrepreneurship strikingly changed because of the development of technologies and the rapid growth of the world population. Besides the classical type of entrepreneurs in manufacturing, many people in the media and the Internet created their brands. In this essay, the concept of entrepreneurship will be critically discussed to understand how modern academia theoretically conceptualizes it. Then, the case of Tim Fung will be used to use the theoretical terms of the first part and understand why he succeeded.

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Critical Review of Entrepreneurship

Difficulties with Definition Formulation

First of all, there is a need to formulate a comprehensive definition of entrepreneurship. In practice, it is hard to do because the scholars’ community cannot agree on the exact formula (Mwatsika, 2018). In any way, any definition will miss some crucial aspects, so to understand the nature of the concept, there is a need to discuss several definitions. The examples of different scholars vary concerning whether they focus on the process of entrepreneurship or its outcomes. The most popular understanding is that an entrepreneur is someone “who establishes and manages a business for the principal purposes of profit and growth” (Mwatsika, 2018, p. 458). In macroeconomic terms, an entrepreneur is also someone specializing in allocating and coordinating scarce resources.

Another problem is that it is hard to understand which person can be regarded as an entrepreneur. The reason is that almost all people that have sufficient money can start their own business. Nevertheless, scholars are disagreeing with such a broad view (Mwatsika, 2018). Mwatsika (2018), as an example, offers the criteria that a “business employing 8 people and staying in operations for 5 years” makes a person entrepreneur (p. 458). Such delineation helps scholars identify the subjects of analysis for their researchers because it allows the creation of samples for statistical analysis. In addition, Bouquet et al. (2016) indicate that business solutions are related not only to conformity to the existing rules but also to a sense of originality. Originality means divergent thinking beyond the existing structures and channels (Bouquet et al., 2016). Thus, originality is also a crucial factor in being an entrepreneur. This addition to the definition of entrepreneur helps to consider not only people who have their physical enterprise, but different YouTubers, Tik-Tokers, and other media figures who created their distinctive personal brands.

Alternative Views on the Concept of Entrepreneurship

Besides the fact that entrepreneurship is related to the creation of something, it is also the process of functioning in the existing organization. The term ‘corporate entrepreneurship’ was coined for such a sphere – it is the “set of entrepreneurial activities that take place within existing companies” (Gil López et al., 2016, p. 177). The academic field of corporate entrepreneurship investigates the options of reforming companies (strategic renewal), and the creation of new organizations outside or within existing institutions (corporate venturing) (Gil López et al., 2016). Finally, the concept of entrepreneurship is interconnected with international business. On the international level, entrepreneurs are becoming influential figures who can influence global decision-making. Especially in the 21st century, states are no longer considered the leading and exclusive players in the international arena because the voice of large enterprises has turned into an influential one.

Models of Entrepreneurship

Further, to introduce the concept, the mainstream models of entrepreneurship are the key to understanding modern scholarship. Models are mostly the theories that describe and predict the actions of a particular subject or phenomenon. Thus, models are popular in the scholarship on corporate entrepreneurship, which analyses companies’ strategies. The most popular distinction is between four types: the opportunist, the enabler, the advocate, and the producer (Kim & Park, 2020). The opportunist model tells that the business does not have a coherent organizational structure and is without a deliberate corporate entrepreneurship strategy. The positive effect comes from the employees who can suggest innovations even despite the company. The enabler model is less anarchical because it has a straightforward procedure for getting financing and organizational support if employees have prospective ideas. Thus, the enabler approach welcomes innovations, making people willing to create something new.

The third model, called the advocate, implies a great amount of coaching and facilitating for corporate entrepreneurship from a company. At the same time, the budgets for these reforms are moderate and come from business units. In these settings, innovation experts work in close connection with business units. Such an approach requires the company to have experienced employees who have expertise in building new business structures. Finally, the fourth model in Kim’s and Park’s (2020) classification is the producer model. It means that the company has a full-time staff that has the mandate for corporate entrepreneurship. This staff can create effective communication between them and other business units. The danger is that very few companies can allow so many investments in a group of people who will be dedicated almost entirely to innovations in corporate entrepreneurship.

Tim Fung – the Founder of Airtasker

The second part of the paper is dedicated to discussing the businessman whose successful company inspires many people to research it. Tim Fung is the founder and the CEO of the Australian company Airtasker. The idea behind his project is that his service helps people and different companies to find professionals who have sufficient skills to accomplish a task (“How it works”, n.d.). For example, if people need a gardener to cut trees and mow grass, they can put an offer on Airtasker to find a specialist who has the required equipment and skills. What is unique in this organization is that the prices are determined through direct communication between the customer and contractor. Initially, the customers set prices that allow their offer to appear on the list of pending orders. When the people who want to work see the order, they can put in a higher bid for the work, which the customer can accept or reject.

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Further, it is necessary to dive into the history of how the company was established. The investment which Fang received for the Airtasker came from positive cooperation with his previous investors (Manning, 2012). After Fang helped investors from BridgeLane Capital to save mobile start-up Amaysim by raising $30 million, personal contact was crucial for the continuation of the partnership in Airtasker (Manning, 2012). The company’s initial success comes from the fact that the users can post tasks for free, while people wanting to complete this task need to pay $2 plus a 5% charge after the completion. It seems that the idea of the task can replicate ordinary sites with advertisements, while Fang’s project is unique because it focuses on the everyday task and not on complex professional tasks. In practice, Fang adjusted to the rapid change of the perceptions of the Australians who have become lazier with the spread of food delivery services and online educational courses.

Considering Tim Fund from the perspective of the proposed theory, he can be called an entrepreneur. He started the Airtasker because he wanted to earn money from his skills in organizing successful companies. Another trait is that he has brought something innovative because the service as Airtasker was definitely among the first ones. Analyzing Fung’s experience in Amaysim and Airtasker, it is evident that he has the skills for strategic renewal. He came to Amaysim to reform it in a limited period, while the reform in newly born Airtasker was related to the pressure from investors.

Finally, Airtasker is an important startup for Australian society. Such a type of startup is called scalable startup entrepreneurship (Susilo, 2020). The whole idea of it is rooted in the desire to change the world in a near perspective. Starting with the ingenious idea of a startup, Fung desired to increase the company’s expansion and enter new markets (“UNSW alumni – Tim Fung”, n.d.). Fung’s business can expand on the global market, bringing a fundamental change in how people perceive everyday difficulties. From the societal perspective, it may lead to the reduced physical activity of the customers but to a more convenient way of finding professionals. As for the ethical side, Fung’s app promotes very libertarian ethics because customers and people wanting to work can personally determine what and how they want to do through financial contacts.

Conclusion

This paper discussed the modern debates about the concept of entrepreneurship and its limitations. Then, the most popular models of corporate entrepreneurship called the opportunist, the enabler, the advocate, and the producer was presented. However, Tim Fung’s business is relatively closed, and there are no research articles discussing which model his business is constructed. Nevertheless, the case of Tim Fung’s Airtasker is used to operationalize the concepts discussed in the theoretical part and understand Fung’s entrepreneurial skills that helped him achieve his goals.

References

Bouquet, C., Barsoux, J. L., & Wade, M. (2018). Bring your breakthrough ideas to life. Harvard Business Review, 96(6), 104-113. Web.

Gil López, A., Zozimo, R., San Román López, E., & Jack, S. L. (2016). At the crossroads. Management and business history in entrepreneurship research. Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business, 2(1), 156-200. Web.

How it works. (n.d.) Airtasker. Web.

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Kim, J. Y., & Park, M. J. (2020). Investigation of critical factors on corporate entrepreneurship: Rethinking the organization culture. Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, 13(1), 1-25. Web.

Manning, J. (2012). Aussie start-up in $1.5m funding win just two months after launch. The Age. Web.

Mwatsika, C., Kambewa, P., & Chiwaula, L. (2018). Untangling the concept of entrepreneurship towards a common perspective. African Journal of Business Management, 12(14), 451-470. Web.

Susilo, D. (2020). Scalable start-up entrepreneurship and local economic development in emerging economies. Applied Economics Journal, 27(2), 145-163. Web.

UNSW alumni – Tim Fung. n.d. UNSW Sydney. Web.

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