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A Publication of WTVP

Do you have the “fire in your belly?” That was the question I had to answer 13 years ago, when this business faced an uncertain future after my late husband, co-founder of this magazine, passed away. I had no idea what total ownership of the business would involve, yet took the plunge anyway.

Entrepreneur: “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk” (dictionary.com).

Today, one’s own career is the “enterprise.” No one is responsible for managing the development of your skills and the trajectory of your career path but you. You may not be your own boss; you may not own your own business; but by this definition, in one sense, we are all entrepreneurs now.

With job security and company loyalty seemingly a thing of the past, the notion of working for a single company for a lifetime seems quaint. The average person entering the workforce today will make numerous career changes in their lifetime, and many of the jobs they will hold haven’t even been invented yet.

More and more, today’s workforce is comprised of job hoppers, freelancers and independent contractors performing project-based work. We are homepreneurs, intrapreneurs, edupreneurs, blogpreneurs, nichepreneurs…just a few of the words coined in recent years as the traditional definition of entrepreneurship has splintered into a million pieces. Initiative and risk are now everyone’s business.

Innovative work arrangements are increasingly the norm. Here in central Illinois, a new workspace called WORKflow Peoria recently opened at the corner of Jefferson and Spalding. Based on an emerging concept called coworking, it offers a collaborative office environment for “those who work from home, travel a lot for their job, freelance, are just getting started, or are generally restless.” The idea is to provide independent professionals with the “mundane items of a typical office”—a business address, conference room, copy machine, high-speed Internet, even hot coffee—in a flexible, collaborative environment. It’s a sign of the times.

But back to the traditional image of the entrepreneur: the founders of companies, the innovators and inventors of products, the small business owners. They are, as Kauffman Foundation President Carl Schramm points out in his State of Entrepreneurship Address (page 46), “the primary engine of job creation in the United States. In the last 30 years, literally all net job creation in this country has taken place in firms less than five years old.” And that is a trend that shows no sign of letting up.

Entrepreneurship is truly a way of life. Today, I have a much better understanding of that entrepreneurial “fire in the belly”: not just the sleepless nights and 60+ hour work weeks, but the satisfaction of being one’s own boss and building something of your own. That “fire in the belly” is the passion that drives you to take risks and seize opportunities. It’s a mindset that is increasingly vital for success in today’s world.

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