With public confidence in politics, the media, the banks, the legal system, the police, and big business all in rapid, and for the most part deserved, decline, perhaps the time has come to do more to celebrate the heroes on whom all that is best in modern life depends: the entrepreneurs.
The management theorist Peter Drucker defined entrepreneurship as transferring resources, including time, capital, labour, money, and knowledge from a lower to a higher state of productivity.
In other words, human and natural resources would achieve nothing unless someone had the enterprise to put them to good use. They would lie idle. Mankind would not have progressed beyond the caves without the initiative of the relatively few individuals willing to take risks and try new things. So entrepreneurs are behind every real advance in human civilisation. They were not necessarily the people who had original ideas. They were the people who put those ideas into practice, which may be more important.
Should any complain that some entrepreneurs are very well rewarded for that, they should note that we have committed ourselves to be rewarded only in direct proportion to our providing for the needs and desires of others, no more, no less. If we fail to serve those needs and desires, we fail to sell our products and services, and we get nothing.
If we succeed, it means other people consider what we provide is useful to them. The principle that control of resources should go to those who have done most to meet the needs and desires of others seems morally right, as well as the most efficient way to organise an economy. It is a democratic principle: people vote with their wallets. Certainly it is a more democratic, efficient, and moral system than any of the alternatives that have been offered.
Finally, in a world divided by ideology, ignorance, egotism, greed, and the misuse of religion, doing business is one of the few things that can bring members of different branches of our diverse species together for their common good.
King Edward VI once provided a Company of Merchant Adventurers who were exploring unknown lands with a letter of introduction. In it, he wrote, “Of all men, the merchant is most deserving; for God, in providing for mankind, ordained that all his needs should not be found in any single region, in order that each region should have need of others, and friendship thus be established among all men.”