The Concept of Enterprise

Enterprise, as the name suggests, is all about enterprise. Enterprise, therefore, is a term used to describe a commercial activity undertaken by individuals or groups and directed toward a shared purpose or objective. It involves planning, management, and action. The use of the term also includes situations in which individuals or groups work together for a common purpose, though perhaps not in the conventional sense of that word.

It was Thomas Edison who, in a manner of speaking, ‘invented the light bulb’. This was perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but his achievements can be seen as the beginning of the modern age of enterprise. And these days, when people talk of enterprise, they almost always refer to large corporations with expensive, high-tech production lines, on the one hand, and the more diffuse organizations with local offices, inventory, sales, and service, on the other. In fact, the enterprise class encompasses all human endeavors, even those that we seldom consider: libraries, museums, farms, volunteer organizations, and the list goes on. And in both the United States and throughout much of Western Europe, the term enterprise has come to describe the ways in which individuals and small groups pool their resources, produce, market, and distribute their product to others.

The most common types of enterprise are those of small business, home enterprise, and commercial enterprise. There is considerable variation within these categories; in particular, there is great variation between being a small entrepreneur, a home entrepreneur, or a commercially active entrepreneur, and being a middle-sized or large corporation. The term “enterprise” is also sometimes used to refer to any type of new business. So, when someone mentions going out and starting a new business, he or she is actually referring to the act of starting a new enterprise – from the word itself, which suggests that the act of starting a new thing is an enterprise.