The start of 2015 has seen much talk about the concept of ‘freedom’. A lot of this has centred on freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It seems that every politician, even those that don’t demonstrate their beliefs through actions, and even the Pope have got in on the latest buzzword.
You may well ask what this has got to do with entrepreneurship unless you are thinking of starting a newspaper or some other form of media communication. And yet, entrepreneurship is one of the great freedoms available to the individual.
That can mean starting to run your own business, it may mean being allowed to act entrepreneurially when employed by someone else or it may mean being entrepreneurial in the non-working part of your life.
So let us get back to the question that I posed at the start of this blog. What other word is linked to the word ‘freedom’. And that is ‘responsibility’. Freedom, where it exists, is a hard won right and as such should not be abused.
Whether it is in what you communicate, what you choose to form a business around, what you choose to propose within you employment or what you choose to do within your leisure time, it should always be done in a responsible way.
All too often actions happen simply because people say ‘I can’ and they never ask ‘if I should’. Under existing laws of course bankers can play lotto with our money, but did they ever stop to ask should they? Nothing really stops people starting businesses that may damage the environment, but does that mean that they should? Very little stops people playing their music loudly at 3am but, again, should they?
I am sure that Sunday’s march made great television, but did it really do anything to repair the disharmony that existed before the tragedies in Paris? Where is the responsibility element of freedom? Do we really think that defiance and taking sides is the answer?
As entrepreneurs you may well not face decisions that may expose those around you to terror. However, you may well find yourselves in situations where you need to make choices based, not simply on your freedom to do so, but also on whether or not you are exercising your moral responsibility.
Damage comes in many forms and not just from the terrorist’s gun. We cannot change the world, or even probably our own governments. However, we can make conscious choices with the freedoms granted to entrepreneurial thinkers, not to damage other human beings; not to insult or degrade others; not to damage the planet for the sake of greed; but to act morally responsible.