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Advanced Entrepreneurship: Innovation sample essay

Innovation is an action taken by individuals to create something that is first formed from an idea in the mind, then studied and researched carefully, and then developed. A new innovation or creation often flies in the face of the established and may be contrary to what is already in the marketplace. To think like an innovator, one must learn to question the world around them, to imagine what might be, and to create in one’s mind an image of something that does not exist. This is a different way of thinking that is rare and often misunderstood.

Many of us know of products, appliances, household products, things we use at school or in our jobs, tools, equipment, so on and so forth; yet we have no idea where it came from, or even further, who invented it. The product I chose is the folding bed. Many variations of the folding bed have been created along the way, both before and after it creation. The folding bed was invented in 1899 by an African American man by the name of L. C. Bailey (Shakara, 2012). According to the Twentieth Century Union League Directory, of D.C. 1901 Edition, Leonard C. Bailey was a successful African American inventor and business man; he received a patent for the his folding bed on July 18, 1899, U.S. Patent #629,286, 7/18/1899, Folding Bed. He was a director of the Industrial Building and Savings Company in D.C. and A director of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth, located at Manassas, VA (Hilyer, 1901).

One of the more popular stories goes that L.C. Bailey had unexpected company with his wife’s family. Being that they only lived in a one bedroom house, the guests had to share this bed with him and his wife. After restless nights and becoming very frustrated, Bailey set to creating his idea. To me the folding bed is an innovative idea for all times. By all definitions, the idea and the item itself is in fact innovative; being able to be reproduced at a low cost, and serving a need that people are, and have been, willing to pay for. Bailey entered the market entrepreneurially. His invention did not receive too much credit at first; although his patent was given to him in 1899, he did not sell the bed right away. Being that he had invented his innovative idea out of necessity, he was not necessarily looking to make a profit off of it. Suspiciously The Murphy Furniture Company, being the second oldest furniture company in America, produced its first Hide-A-Bed for sale in 1900. Needless to say, sometime later, Bailey’s Idea was gifted to the military and used as the “soldiers folding bed”.

Although Bailey never received much financial reward for his idea, it is nonetheless a successful idea. One of the positive aspects of entrepreneurial invention is the freedom and independence of expression. When coming up with an independent invention, there is no corporate asphyxiation. Another great plus for personal invention is the flexibility, entrepreneurs can schedule their own time to invent; like Bailey for instance, being that he was such an involved man, and he held a full time position at his job, his invention must not have been in the front of his mind every second of every day. Also, something like a work schedule can be a negative aspect for a striving entrepreneur. Not having the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to invention can lead to a lack of success. Also many inventors are not lucky enough to have the funding for their projects until after they make it into the market. The financial aspect of entrepreneurship can be very stressful.

Without investors who are interested in the idea or invention, sometimes an entrepreneur must put an idea on a side burner until the funds are there. To have been brought to the market intrapreneurially, that would have meant that L. C. Bailey would have been, prior to his invention, working with a company that either manufactured or produced (or both) furniture or household goods. The fact is that L. C. Bailey worked for a savings bank and was extremely active in the African American community. However, if his idea was brought to be intrapreneurially, I can almost promise you, that there would be no mention of his name alongside this invention.

Also, chances are, he would have never received a patent. The reason names like “The Murphy Bed” and “Davenport” exist, is because these versions of Bailey’s invention were brought to the market through the means of a company that already was in existence, in other words, they were intrapreneurial inventions. The process of creating these ideas were funded by the existing company, and the people who invented them worked for this company that funded the invention’s creation. These names are not after just one person, but entire families that established a business under their families’ name.

While an entrepreneur assumes his own risk for a big idea he may have and may work to establish it as a business or enterprise, an intrapreneur may use the same kinds of skills to make an idea work within a big corporation, without assuming the personal risk an entrepreneur may have to (White, 2011). Often such a person is assigned to develop his idea in the same way an entrepreneur would. The big difference is his company puts adequate resources at his disposal so he can make his idea work. Some of the skills needed by such a person include an extensive knowledge of the company he works for, the willingness to change things, and the ability to be diplomatic (White, 2011). To see his dream become reality, an intrapreneur must be willing to work well with a team. He must listen to the ideas of others and evaluate whether or not they would work. Even though he believes in his idea, he should be willing to change it, if necessary (White, 2011).

Innovation, whether carried out within a company or done outside of an established firm, accomplishes the same goal of bringing a new product or service to market. So despite some of the tedious differences, it is basically the same concept.

References:
Shakara. (February, 03, 2012). Black History: Things Invented By African Americans. Retrieved online January 14, 2013, from www.themilwaukeedrum.com/2012/02/03/black-history-things-invented-by-african-americans

Intrapreneurship and Entrepreneurship. (2013). Innovation and Business Climate. Retrieved online, January 14, 2013, from https://mycampus.aiu-online.com/courses/MGMT422/u1/hub1/hub.html
Hilyer, A.F. (January, 1901). The Twentieth CenturyUnion League Directory: Colored Washington. Retrieved online, January 14, 2013, from
www.archive.org/stream/twentiethcentury00hily#page/n3/mode/2up/search/Bailey

White, M. (2011). Important Skill Sets for an Intrapreneur. Retrieved online, January 14, 2013, from www.brighthub.com/office/entrepreneurs/articles/123073.aspx

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