The definition of enterprise has changed over the years and there is no longer one definitive version that most people agree upon. In fact, the meaning of enterprise has become vague due to the fact that it has been a product of human wisdom and has been subject to a great deal of change in recent times. The word enterprise was first used in the 15th century to define a body of labor. A definition of enterprise today, however, has evolved to include the elements of technology and the leadership that underlie those elements. A more narrow definition of enterprise includes a project, an effort or a business idea.
An example of the elements that make up enterprise solutions is someone starting a small business from scratch. The term enterprise could apply to this person if they were attempting to develop their own technology for managing their business or if they were trying to develop computer software for managing their business. The term small business name could also apply to this person if they were developing products or services for a large corporation.
The evolution of the term enterprise has led to the use of the word corporation as well. A corporation is generally viewed as having many elements that make up the structure of an enterprise, though not all corporations are created equal. A corporation may be a joint-venture company or it may be simply a business name combined with the word enterprise. One of the difficulties with using the word enterprise in a small business context is that the word can be viewed as an asset that a corporation cannot be asset unless it is entirely pure and free of any form of joint venture relationships. That issue will continue to be discussed in future articles.