An entrepreneur performs a series of functions necessary right from the genesis of an idea up to the establishment and effective operation of an enterprise. He carries out the whole set of activities of the business for its success. He recognises the commercial potential of a product or a service, formulates operating policies for production, product design, marketing and organisational structure. He is thus a nucleus of high growth of the enterprise.
According some economists, the functions of an entrepreneur is classified into five broad categories:
- Risk-bearing function,
- Organisational function,
- Innovative function,
- Managerial function, and
- Decision making function.
1. Risk-bearing function:
The functions of an entrepreneur as risk bearer is specific in nature. The entrepreneur assumes all possible risks of business which emerges due to the possibility of changes in the tastes of consumers, modern techniques of production and new inventions. Such risks are not insurable and incalculable. In simple terms such risks are known as uncertainty concerning a loss.
The entrepreneur, according to Kinght, "is the economic functionary who undertakes such responsibility of uncertainty which by its very nature cannot be insured nor capitalised nor salaried too."
Richard Cantillon conceived of an entrepreneur as a bearer of non-insurable risk because he described an entrepreneur as a person who buys things at a certain price and sells them at an uncertain price.
Thus, risk bearing or uncertainty bearing still remains the most important function of an entrepreneur which he tries to minimise by his initiative, skill and good judgement. J.B. Say and other have stressed risk taking as the specific function of the entrepreneur.
2. Organisational Function:
Entrepreneur as an organiser and his organising function is described by J.B. Say as a function whereby the entrepreneur brings together various factors of production, ensures continuing management and renders risk-bearing functions as well. His definition associates entrepreneur with the functions of coordination, organisation and supervision. According to him, an entrepreneur is one who combines the land of one, the labour of another and the capital of yet another and thus produces a product. By selling the product in the market, he pays interest on capital, rent on land and wages to labourers and what remains is his/her profit. In this way, he describes an entrepreneur as an organiser who alone determines the lines of business to expand and capital to employ more judiciously. He is the ultimate judge in the conduct of the business.
Marshall also advocated the significance of organisation among the services of special class of business undertakers.
3. Innovative Function:
The basic function an entrepreneur performs is to innovate new products, services, ideas and informations for the enterprise. As an innovator, the entrepreneur foresees the potentially profitable opportunity and tries to exploit it. He is always involved in the process of doing new things. According to Peter Drucker, "Innovation is the means by which the entrepreneur either creates new wealth producing resources or endows existing resources with enhanced potential for creating wealth". Whenever a new idea occurs entrepreneurial efforts are essential to convert the idea into practical application.
J.A. Schumpeter considered economic development as a descrete dynamic change brought by entrepreneurs by instituting new combinations of production, i.e. innovation. According to him innovation may occur in any one of the following five forms.
The introduction of a new product in the market with which the customers are not get familiar with.
Introduction of a new method of production technology which is not yet tested by experience in the branch of manufacture concerned.
The opening of a new market into which the specific product has not previously entered.
The discovery of a new source of supply of raw material, irrespective of whether this source already exists or has first to be created.
The carrying out of the new form of oranisation of any industry by creating of a monopoly position or the breaking up of it.
4. Managerial Function:
Entrepreneur also performs a variety of managerial function like determination of business objectives, formulation of production plans, product analysis and market research, organisation of sales procurring machine and material, recruitment of men and undertaking, of business operations. He also undertakes the basic managerial functions of planning, organising, co-ordinating, staffing, directing, motivating and controlling in the enterprise. He provides a logical and scientific basis to the above functions for the smooth operation of the enterprise thereby avoids chaos in the field of production, marketing, purchasing, recruiting and selection, etc. In large establishments, these managerial functions of the entrepreneur are delegated to the paid managers for more effective and efficient execution.
5. Decision Making Function:
The most vital function an entrepreneur discharges refers to decision making in various fields of the business enterprise. He is the decision maker of all activities of the enterprise. A. H. Cole described an entrepreneur as a decision maker and attributed the following functions to him.
He determines the business objectives suitable for the enterprise.
He develops an organization and creates an atmosphere for maintaining a cordial relationship with subordinates and all employees of the organization.
He decides in securing adequate financial resources for the organisation and maintains good relations with the existing and potential investors and financiers.
He decides in introducing advanced modern technology in the enterprise to cope up with changing scenario of manufacturing process.
He decides the development of a market for his product, develops new product or modify the existing product in accordance with the changing consumer's fashion, taste and preference.
He also decides to maintain good relations with the public authorities as well as with the society at large for improving the firms image before others.