Infographic credit: FundersandFounders.com
The infographic above, created by Anna Vital of Funders and Founders, gives an information rich visual of how humans created value and made money. The title is the history of opportunity and what it really shows is the history of entrepreneurship.
One thing to bear in mind is that the infographic is European/North American centred in the portrayal of history. Other countries might have gone through a different developmental process but the general ideas hold true.
12 different periods are depicted in the graphic with corresponding ways to create value.
Hunters constantly had to track, chase and kill animals for survival which was unpredictable.
Value: Hunting animals for food
Growers realized that cultivating plants was a more predictable and stable way to obtain food.
Value: Growing plants for food
Warriors who “worked” for the king found it was much quicker to steal the Growers’ food instead of growing their own.
Value: Plundering the land and food resources of others through war
Craftsmen realized that kings and warriors were less likely to steal from them if they strengthened their numbers, formed cities and worked hard to create useful items. With the threat of constant pillaging reduced, people could now focus their time and energy on creating value, thus giving birth to the first entrepreneurs.
Value: Organizing groups of people to live in cities and creating useful items
Explorers were formed as a result of numerous like minded people living together in a city. This unprecedented group dynamic facilitated the rapid distribution of new ideas. Bold individuals with a taste for adventure and willing to take a risk ventured out into the “undiscovered” parts of the world. If the journey was successful they returned with precious commodities such as tea, spices, silk and sugar.
Value: Venturing into the unknown world and bringing back precious commodities
Merchants continued along the path that the explorers charted. Once a new region was mapped out, merchants were comfortable with establishing trade routes to transport exotic goods from the country of origin to sell in Europe (for example).
Value: Importing foreign goods for sale in the domestic market
While the explorers and merchants were out conquering the “new world”, the craftsmen were at home in the cities busy perfecting their ability to create which allowed them to create machinery. Mass production had begun.
Value: Ability to make things faster via machines
As improvements were made to the first generation of machines, subsequent machines were faster and therefore able to produce more products in a shorter period of time. Industrialists owned the machines that were taking mass production to the next level.
Value: Creating things even faster than the previous generation of machines
With the discovery of oil, manufacturers built cars and trucks to use this fuel. The need for fuel continued to increase as vehicles became more affordable and the transportation network for various items expanded through the use of trucks. Oil drillers became wealthy during this time.
Value: Providing oil to fuel the transportation sector
Building on the foundation of a transportation network powered by oil, factories could deliver their products anywhere. With this in mind, they organized themselves into corporations to best distribute their goods. Corporate executives helped to manage this transition from a factory to a corporation and managed the operations of these new companies.
Value: Managing corporations
As corporations grew in size, they became more value. So much so that bankers viewed the corporations as items to be bought and sold for a profit. With values in the billions, even a small profit margin could make such a transaction worthwhile. Through leveraged buy-outs financiers were able to generate money.
Value: Buying and selling large corporations
Startup founders take a step outside of the corporate box and search for ways to create useful goods faster and more efficiently than a corporation. Technology is ultimately the greater leveler in this respect. Using the appropriate technology and systems, it is possible for a startup company with a handful of entrepreneurs to outperform a corporation with 10X more people and resources.
Value: Creating useful items faster than a corporation
Well there you have the history of entrepreneurship but believe it or not, all of these forms of entrepreneurship are still present in 2015. You can still be a merchant (importer), industrialist or corporate executive, even a grower if you really wanted to. What you have now is the opportunity to choose which form of entrepreneurship you want to bring value to the world with.
As of 2013, according to the World Bank, the gross world product (GWP) or the value the world created was US $75.59 trillion. You can see from the graph above that the monetary value being created has been increasing rapidly.
At this point in time, an internet entrepreneur selling digital products and services has the greatest potential to scale a business when compared to any of the other alternative types of entrepreneur covered in the graph above. For more information on becoming an internet entrepreneur, grab this free report.