An entrepreneur is someone who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. An entrepreneur is an agent of change. Entrepreneurship is the process of discovering new ways of combining resources. When the market value generated by this new combination of resources is greater than the market value these resources can generate elsewhere individually or in some other combination, the entrepreneur makes a profit.

An entrepreneur who takes the resources necessary to produce a pair of jeans that can be sold for thirty dollars and instead turns them into a denim backpack that sells for fifty dollars will earn a profit by increasing the value those resources create. This comparison is possible because in competitive resource markets, an entrepreneur’s costs of production are determined by the prices required to bid the necessary resources away from alternative uses.

Those prices will be equal to the value that the resources could create in their next-best alternate uses. Because the price of purchasing resources measures this opportunity cost— the value of the forgone alternatives—the profit entrepreneurs make reflects the amount by which they have increased the value generated by the resources under their control.

Entrepreneurs who make a loss, however, have reduced the value created by the resources under their control; that is, those resources could have produced more value elsewhere. Losses mean that an entrepreneur has essentially turned a fifty-dollar denim backpack into a thirty-dollar pair of jeans. This error in judgment is part of the entrepreneurial learning, or discovery, process vital to the efficient operation of markets. The profit-and-loss system of capitalism helps to quickly sort through the many new resource combinations entrepreneurs discover.

A vibrant, growing economy depends on the efficiency of the process by which new ideas are quickly discovered, acted on, and labeled as successes or failures. Just as important as identifying successes is making sure that failures are quickly extinguished, freeing poorly used resources to go elsewhere. This is the positive side of business failure.

Successful entrepreneurs expand the size of the economic pie for everyone. Bill Gates, who as an undergraduate at Harvard developed BASIC for the first microcomputer, went on to help found Microsoft in 1975. During the 1980s, IBM contracted with Gates to provide the operating system for its computers, a system now known as MS-DOS. Gates procured the software from another firm, essentially turning the thirty-dollar pair of jeans into a multibillion-dollar product. Microsoft’s Office and Windows operating software now run on about 90 percent of the world’s computers. By making software that increases human productivity, Gates expanded our ability to generate output (and income), resulting in a higher standard of living for all.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, was another entrepreneur who touched millions of lives in a positive way...

These are just some of the lessons we teach in our Entrepreneuirship Education Classes.