How to encourage entrepreneurship? This is a question many universities, cities, states and nations ask themselves on an almost daily basis. The notion of entrepreneurship is a romantic one. Those who begin ventures in a dorm room or garage and achieve success are universally beloved – look no further than Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. The secret formula to release and cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit has long been debated. Could failure actually be a cause?

Company failure – more specifically big company failures – unleashes an ecosystem of entrepreneurship, not unlike a whale carcass at the bottom of the ocean. From the death of one comes the life of many. When companies go belly-up or are forced to lay off many employees in a certain area it becomes a cauldron of innovation. Hundreds if not thousands of extremely smart engineers or computer scientists may be put out of work and need to find a new career.

Enter entrepreneurship.

Many people use the expertise they acquired over years of working at a large company and begin their own business or join forces with small start-ups. While the realities of losing a job is something no one wants to face, and is certainly not advocated for, the creativity unleashed is something important to consider. Stories are written about the devastation an area can experience when a company closes up shop but the lens of optimism can also be applied to the transforming of economies and communities that this creates.

With tough economic times still ahead it seems quite possible that “whales” may have to restructure and lay off highly skilled workers. Though no one wants to ever experience that there should be some solace found in the ability of those laid off to let loose their own entrepreneurial spirit and create something new and exciting. This reinforces the romantic notion of an entrepreneur’s creativity and innovation, but more importantly boosts the economy along with it.

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