What makes entrepreneurship possible? Entire libraries are dedicated to answering this question on the individual level, but the greater societal level is archived in the historical section more often than business. People who build a successful company take their current environment for granted. It’s natural for the business owners of America to expect secure property rights, open and competitive markets, and an honest legal system. In societies like America’s, anyone who wishes to innovate may do so.

But where did these vital pillars of our society come from? The transition occurred when Western society rejected the aristocratic deal (“do what I say and I’ll let you work”) in favor of the bourgeois deal (“leave me alone and I’ll make you rich”). The revolutions, revolts, reading, and reformations that occurred in the early modern era paved the way for a reevaluation of Western values. Traditional bourgeois folk such as shopkeepers, merchants, and innovators went from being suspect to the drivers of progress. Working in one’s own interest went from being a sign of poor character to the expectation for anyone trying to make it commercially.

The result? A sharp increase in global wealth and standard of living. Extreme global poverty ($2 a day) is at the lowest rate ever recorded, dropping from half the globe in 1966 to 9% in 2017. In the US, the country-specific poverty line went from including 22.4% of the population in 1959 to 10.5% in 2019. These reductions in poverty mean an increase in the living standard for Americans. 90% of modern American households have air conditioners, and the average household owns nearly 2 cars. Things that would have been signs of luxury decades ago are commonplace today thanks to the work of entrepreneurs. Despite the uncertainty of our times ahead, entrepreneurship allows avenues otherwise not commonly thought possible.

Infographic Source: EdSmart