collinsA few weeks ago I wrote about Kurt Anderson’s TIME magazine story entitled The End of Excess (post: 4/10/09) in which the writer and radio host found surprising hope and optimism in our current gloomy economic straits. Anderson suggests that the unpredictability and flux that will come in the months and years ahead will be a time of fruitful opportunity for creative thinkers and entrepreneurs. I just came across an INC. magazine interview with Jim Collins, author of Good To Great and founder of the research firm ChimpWorks, and I found synergy with Kurt Anderson’s article. Collins and expands on Anderson’s theme in some intriguing ways—I particularly appreciate his holistic view of entrepreneurship.

“I take a broad view of it. The traditional definition—founding an entity designed to make money— is too narrow for me. I see entrepreneurship as more of a life concept. We all make choices about how we live our lives. You can take a paint-by-numbers approach, or you can start with a blank canvas. When you paint by numbers, the end result is guaranteed. You know what it’s going to be, and it might be good, but it will never be a masterpiece. Starting with a blank canvas is the only way to get a masterpiece, but you could also blow up. So, are you going to pick the paint-by-numbers kit or the blank canvas? That’s a life question, not a business question.”

Collins also takes a refreshing view on the notion risk, one of the great barriers to entrepreneurship.

“As an entrepreneur, you know what the risks are. You see them. You understand them. You manage them. If you join someone else’s company, you may not know those risks, and not because they don’t exist. You just can’t see them, and so you can’t manage them. That’s a much more exposed position than the entrepreneur faces.”

Doug Hall, a columnist for BusinessWeek’s SmallBiz offshoot agrees with the theme that our current economic flux presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs in his April/May column. “Small, incremental changes are considered a waste of time,” writes Hall, “Now’s the time to be bold. And by that, I mean that it’s time to be a radical innovator of products, services, and business models”

BusinessWeek is an excellent (and relatively design-friendly) resource for business news, and I’ve found the INC. Magazine website to be bookmark-worthy too…although the INC. blogs don’t seem to be as content-rich as I would hope.