From the February 2012 issue of Entrepreneur

Amy C. CosperOne of the great and transformative things about being an entrepreneur is that you define a moment, an age or sometimes an epoch. Over the last five years, entrepreneurs have launched ideas and philosophies that have changed the way we approach everything from politics to economics to business strategy.

The vision and grassroots efforts of entrepreneurs like you are changing the way we think and behave as a society--not only in the context of commerce, but, perhaps more important, within the context of communities.

How we define a generation is no longer in the hands of corporations and unions. We are shaping this country. And your impact as an entrepreneur goes far beyond Angry Birds, iPads and social media. Thanks to you, the days in which a corporation boldly slapped its logo on an entire population are long gone. Pepsi Generation? I think not. We have become a society defined by our own identities and like-mindedness.

It's a constant challenge to define what makes an entrepreneur, an equation that is more art than science. Our editors, writers and reporters are constantly tasked with this question. And the landing spot, almost without fail, is: An entrepreneur creates something where there was nothing. You cannot buy your way into it. (But if you do, you can approach everything you do with an entrepreneurial mindset and spirit.)

Think about the word entrepreneur. It is no longer captive to business schools and business books. It has evolved into something much more meaningful. It is the spirit of how we approach things--anything. Being told you are an entrepreneurial thinker is always the highest form of compliment. It's akin to saying, "You are taking a very creative and innovative approach to something." It may sound odd, but at many universities, musicians, scientists and accountants are now being educated on how to think entrepreneurially within their disciplines. Which at the end of the day makes things very complicated at the editorial headquarters of Entrepreneur.

Sometimes we look toward the rarefied air of Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or this month's cover subject, Steven Smith. These are the personalities that have redrawn the lines of what it means to be in business. These are the über-'treps--the serial entrepreneurs who stop at nothing to have their visions recognized, then do it again and again and again. These are the innovators who capture zeitgeist and turn it into an unforgettable experience.

For Branson, it's not enough to run an airline--he wants to own the space-travel business. Jobs' reshaping of mobility and computing changed our world. And for Smith, it's not enough to make tea--he wants to create a lifestyle, an experience around it (not in space, but an unforgettable experience nonetheless). He shook up a staid, established industry and created demand for a product nobody knew they wanted. These are the names that embody the spirit of what it is to be an entrepreneur.

And so do you. This moment in history is yours. Own it.

Amy C. Cosper
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy