In addition to imagination, entrepreneurs need skills for organizing, team-building, managing, and analyzing investment & cost. Perhaps it should have been obvious all along that they also need to understand sustainability.
It’s extremely important for entrepreneurs to be aware of and address issues of sustainability as part of the planning process. While an entrepreneur in a for-profit venture might achieve profitability based largely on the basis of an innovative product, identifying a niche market, or minimizing costs, that is not enough to create a sustainable business.
Many students and recent graduates will need help to build the needed awareness and avoid the situation described by the ‘Green Destiny’ report at Penn State:
Currently, while universities teach their students that the vital signs of the Earth are in decline, graduates continue to leave college to begin lives that generally contribute to, rather than mitigate, the growing array of environmental and social problems now plaguing us.…
The challenge faced by humankind will require a rethinking of values and a re-educating of our citizenry in many aspects of our society’s way of life. We therefore contend that the time has come for the concept of sustainability—meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs—to become a new central organizing idea for higher education.
—from ‘Green Destiny: Penn State’s Emerging Ecological Mission’ (2000)
To avoid being part of the problem requires a broad understanding of sustainability, including such concepts as ecology, global warming, local economies, and the rights of nature. Perhaps even more important in the long term are the ability to use comprehensive methods for analyzing sustainability—cradle-to-cradle lifecycle analysis, design science, and whole systems [some of which Buckminster Fuller tried to teach decades ago]. Planning any new venture is an ongoing iterative process, but this will be especially true as new understandings of sustainability emerge.
See also Social Entrepreneurs