Common Sense was a reply, in effect, to George III's speech to Parliament, in which he said, "These Americans, whatever they say, they're trying to be independent." It's not something Paine was willing to disavow.
Today our challenge comes from within. But our hope is that entrepreneurship, like revolution, is at the soul of our nation. And, though we may have strayed toward the corporate, we are fundamentally entrepreneurial.
"Entrepreneurship is becoming much more the norm than the aberration," says Gartner. "We're hugely innovative. That's just the nature of our culture. We're always open to new ideas, and we're not afraid to fail."
"We've never had people more highly trained, more information about market needs, and technology more friendly to entrepreneurs," says Stevenson. "Conditions for small companies have probably never been any better. Does that mean it's going to be easy? No, it's never been easy. But the opportunities to succeed and prosper in this environment are huge."
As Paine wrote in Common Sense, "However our eyes may be dazzled with snow, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and of reason will say, it is right." We'll be that voice: Entrepreneurship, as a driving force in our economy, is undeniably right.
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Institute for the Future
(650) 854-6322, www.iftf.org
University of Southern California
(213) 740-0648, www.marshall.usc.edu/entrepreneur.