There's an old saying that no one ever erected a statue to commemorate a committee. Individuals are the heroes in our society, and well they should be. It's the enthusiasm, intelligence, creativity, and perseverance of individuals that bring about progress in virtually every walk of life. Many of our Founding Fathers were business entrepreneurs. All were entrepreneurs in the sense that they started a country.
Nowhere is the value of the entrepreneurial spirit more evident than in business. All businesses, no matter how big, can trace their origins to the imagination of an individual. The entrepreneur is the person who makes our economy thrive.
Entrepreneurs come in all sizes, from Bill Gates to the corner grocer. What they have in common is a belief in themselves, a belief in their technology or business, and the stamina to keep at it until they are successful.
The design engineering community has more than its share of entrepreneurs who started out with a simple--or, not so simple--idea, and who are still cranking out ideas today. Among them: Dean Kamen, president of Deka Research, founder of U.S. FIRST, and 1994 Design News Engineer of the Year; Ken Crater, president of Control Technology Corp.; Bob Cervenka, of Phillips-Origen; and Michael Bussler, of Algor Inc.
Recently, the international consulting firm Ernst & Young named Robert Fayfield, founder of Banner Engineering Corp., as the 1998 Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year. Fayfield founded Banner in 1966 with $10,000 in borrowed money and some big ideas. Today, the company is one of the largest photoelectric companies in the U.S.Industry uses its photoelectric sensors in factory automation to control, sort, and inspect all kinds of products.
In announcing the award, Ernst & Young's National Director of Entrepreneurial Services Gregory K. Ericksen said Fayfield and all of its Entrepreneur of the Year award recipients "ultimately improve the quality of life in America and beyond by proving that exceptional ideas are forever worthy of pursuit."
Amen to that!
Of course, you don't have to go out and start a company to exhibit the entrepreneurial spirit. Intrapreneurs do it every day within established companies, championing new ideas and finding ways to overcome obstacles to success.
We should all strive to be such leaders.