Josephine Brané-Wright
Montgomery Blair High School
Silver Spring, Maryland
11th Grade
Second Place Winner, Maryland

An American Entrepreneur  

The first thing I asked myself when I saw this essay question was: What actually is an entrepreneur? After brief research, I came across the substantial difference between an entrepreneur and a businessperson; an entrepreneur is a risk taker that funds new ideas and products, while a businessperson simply transacts business (“Businessman”). Entrepreneurs are the people who open their minds to new ideas and are constantly searching for new opportunities and success; they go beyond their times and forge new paths for humanity. Most importantly, and possibly the genius of an entrepreneur, is finding a gap and realizing the potential that it may have on improving the world and society. One might call this finding a unique niche that is overlooked by the common man. They draw their inspiration and determination from their own lives and use their own personal experiences to understand the consumer and learn how to work to create a stable product, company, and system. Entrepreneurs advance not only our economy, but also our society and lifestyles. They have influenced our daily lives, from the light bulbs we use, to the computers we work on, and to the jobs we have. In reality, the success of an entrepreneur is not only defined by their monetary success, but by their lasting effect on society.

Andre Romelle Young, most commonly known as Dr. Dre, is a fascinating entrepreneur in the way that has not only made important monetary investments, but has also largely changed the culture of the United States. He began his music empire in the revolutionary group NWA at the age of nineteen, and the group's second album, Straight Outta Compton, sold more than 2 million copies ("Dr. Dre Biography"). Dr. Dre’s time in NWA not only launched his musical career but also forever changed the music industry. His musical group popularized the use of electronic music, creating an entirely new genre of rap; gangsta rap. From the money he made from NWA, Dr. Dre was quick to invest and explore the music industry, and in 1992, he co-founded Death Row Records ("Dr. Dre Bio."). He began to building his name in music, creating his own album: The Chronic, and became a prominent producer at Death Row Records who grew the careers of many famous rappers, most notably Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 2Pac. Dr. Dre left Death Row Records in 1996 due to a creative disagreement and started his own record label, Aftermath Entertainment. He continues to work with prominent artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and 50 Cent, etc. ("Dr. Dre."). In 2006, he went beyond the music production industry and co-founded a headphone company called Beats by Dr. Dre. The company was the first to focus on high quality acoustics for rap and hip-hop in the headphone industry - Dr. Dre had found yet another niche in the music industry. In an astonishing 2014 purchase, Apple bought the company for 3 billion dollars ("Apple to Acquire Beats Music & Beats Electronics."). Since then Dr. Dre has continued producing music for other artists, and continues his path as a sound pioneer.

George Washington, most notably known for being the first president of the United States and a decorated military general, was also a highly successful entrepreneur. His most notable quality was his constant search for new economic opportunities not only for himself, but for the country he helped build (Mochari, Ilan). As far as his own economic advances goes, Washington was interested in exploring agricultural production and proceeds. He did not follow the crowd, and while most other businessmen were growing tobacco, Washington grew wheat. He was skilled enough to realize that his counterparts were growing the wrong crop, and quickly took to producing wheat and wheat products ("George Washington to Robert Cary and Company). This unconventional move gave him an enormous payoff, and he grew his business with the use of special “transplanting machines” and “pickle, powder and management” of seeds, which he researched and tested on his own crops ("George Washington's 'Compend of Husbandry' Notes."). His high- quality wheat was widely successful in the US and abroad. His estate became a large production center of wheat for the region, which set him apart from the tobacco farmers who were left to compete with each other. At the national level, Washington focused on building an economic foundation for the growing nation and “naturally thought of the country as a business” (Lengel, Edward). Contrary to the opinions of his peers, Washington advocated forming trading connections with Britain. He saw that it was the most advanced country in the world at the time, and knew avoiding connections with Britain would ultimately lead to his nation's downfall. It was this out of the box thinking that set Washington apart from his peers; he was a genius in the way that he was able to separate what seemed rational, and improve it on a purely business level. He also understood the importance of commerce in not only supporting the country, but unifying it, and this unification prevented a split in the country due to regional differences (Mochari, Ilan). Once elected president, Washington would continue to improve the country's economy and was an important contributor in eliminating the country’s astounding debt from the war through careful budgeting over the course of six years.

When analyzing both men, I looked back to the definition of an entrepreneur, and discovered that at the heart of each one is a skilled risk taker. The “risks” successful entrepreneurs take may seem like risks to others, but they are often well-calculated decisions, and this is what separates an entrepreneur from a businessman. George Washington is a complete embodiment of this “risk taking” as seen in his decision to begin growing wheat instead of tobacco. He questioned all seemingly concrete business decisions, and in this way was able to separate himself from the crowd and discover a specialized industry he realized was underdeveloped.

An entrepreneur not only changes their own life with the monetary gains they make from their risk taking, but changes the lives of the people and future people of the world.  It is this view of an entrepreneur that clearly concludes George Washington as the greater entrepreneur due to his unique approach in creating American financial relations, and his lasting effect on millions of people through multiple generations. It was Washington's clear and unique critical thinking of every decision that made him such a strong entrepreneur. He was able to not only be successful on his own level, but understood consumers, technology, and commerce at such a deep level that he was able to guide the economy and foreign policy of an entire country.

Although Dr. Dre did have a lasting effect, it was mostly in the United States’ music industry, and his investments therefore did not have as monumental effect as those of George Washington. Unlike Dr. Dre, Washington was better at working with his peers, even when disagreements arose. Dr. Dre left a successful music production company because he was unable to resolve a disagreement with his co-founder, and possibly closed the door on thousands of opportunities. When George Washington was faced with opposition he was able to negotiate a solution in his and the country's advantage. Being a skilled negotiator is very important in business, and without it an entrepreneur can miss a multitude of opportunities. If Washington had simply given up like Dr. Dre had, he may not have been able to convince the other founding fathers to create business ties with Britain, and the United States may not have turned out as the powerful country it is today.

George Washington also thought about the consumer and developed arising theories of equality into philosophies and rules of business. He thought of the consumer as his source of revenue, unlike other businessmen who saw their products as the sources of revenue. It is this focus on people that allowed him to draw the conclusion that for a strong economy, the people had to be happy, and he shaped many of his political policies around this theory. According to Edwards Lengel, Washington did not believe in slavery and made an important entrepreneurial point against it.  He believed in order for the consumer to purchase and buy, one had to be happy and feel good about participating in society. If slaves were forced to produce in horrible conditions, they would not work hard to improve their product or society because they are not passionate about their work. This clearly shows Washington's unique entrepreneur mindset because unlike his peers, his argument against slavery was in terms of business, not morals. I believe this is the base for risk taking, thinking out of the box, understanding the consumer, society and the world. George Washington was, and is the best entrepreneur between these two great men because he understood and focused on the importance of the consumer while his predecessors or peers were simply focused on making money.

 

Works Cited

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“Businessman.” Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/businessman. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

“Dr. Dre.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Dre. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

“Dr. Dre Bio.” Rolling Stone, www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/dr-dre/biography. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

“Dr. Dre Biography.” Biography.com, A&E Television Works, 28 Oct. 2016, www.biography.com/people/dr-dre-507628. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

“George Washington’s ‘Compend of Husbandry’ Notes.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/george-washingtons-compend-of-husbandry-notes/. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

“George Washington to Robert Cary and Company, June 20, 1762.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/george-washington-to-robert-cary-and-company-june-20-1762/. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

Lengel, Edward. “George Washington: America’s First Entrepreneur.” Interview by Knowledge@Wharton. Wharton, 19 Apr. 2016, knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/ed-lengel-george-washington-myths-book/. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

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Mochari, Ilan. “5 Surprising Business Lessons From This Entrepreneur-Turned-U.S. President.” Inc., 2 May 2016, www.inc.com/ilan-mochari/george-washington-entrepreneur.html. Accessed 29 Jan. 2017.

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