The ancient history of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the act of launching or setting up a business or businesses for gaining profit.

I am sure most of you have the dream of being entrepreneurs, or some of you already are. Firstly, proud of you for your endeavors. Secondly, for those who are looking for motivation, go on, and read the rest of our blogs, I am sure you will find the inspiration to turn your dreams into reality.

You all are familiar with entrepreneurship and its characteristics, types, values, ethics, etc. But here we will share the ancient history of entrepreneurship. Simultaneously you will get to know the first ever entrepreneurs aged back to 20,000 years ago.

Beginning of entrepreneurship:

Dated back to centuries; in prehistoric times, human interaction and communication initiated the process of the barter system. Moreover, the history of long-distance commerce can be dated back to 150,000 years according to Peter Watson. Trading goods and services and their rules were supposed to be the start of entrepreneurship. Similarly, in 17,000 BCE the first-ever trade happened in New Guinea. In this trade, people exchanged obsidian (a volcanic glass used in hunting tools) for different products of use as food, tools, wool, etc. Therefore, this can be an early type of entrepreneurship. Hunters traded goods to different regions and made profits in terms of goods and services. This continued for millennia.

Agricultural Revolution:

With the agricultural revolution that came 12,000 years ago, there was a shift in entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, this shift led to another type of entrepreneurship where people felt the need to domesticate animals and plants. In this way, people no longer had to wander throughout the year to hunt animals and search for food. But they now farmed lands with animals and crops. This led to selective people farming for providing food to the entire village or town, and the rest of the people went on with other tasks. This way the people who farmed kept some of their domesticated animal meat and grown crops for themselves and their families and sold the rest to others in markets.

Similarly, the ones not farming focused on other services such as clothe-making, tool-making, shelter-making, etc. They would exchange these products and services in exchange for food or other items. Hence, a group of different businesses started. People with specific talents started selling that talent and started earning. New businesses launched and hence another type of entrepreneurship flourished in different regions of the world.

With these towns and villages grew, and since food was now sourced permanently, people turned to makes permanent settlements such as markets, religious centres, etc. Moreover, new institutions came into beings leading to different business ideas and entrepreneurship. This increased the living standards; for any problem that raised, people now tended to solve it with a new business idea.

Trade routes expanded after the Agricultural revolution:

With the agricultural revolution, new civilizations came into being. Firstly, most of these civilizations were near rivers such as the Nile, the Tigris, the Indus, etc. Secondly, since the agricultural revolution led to the start of many businesses, people found techniques to travel by rivers. Thirdly, people had specialized in their specific areas of businesses, thus they had vast products being made. At last, they came to the idea to sell their products in different regions, and hence trade routes expanded. People realized that they could make more profits this way. Hence trade of tools, weapons, oranges, coffee, lemons, salt, technologies, rice, gunpowder etc. started between different parts of the world.

At that time, empires of the historical significances such as Alexander the Great, Persian, Roman etc. were built with the trade of the iron that was invented in 2000 BCE. Therefore, weapons for military purposes were the most successful early types of entrepreneurship.

The invention of money:

Now comes another revolution; the invention of money. It happened at the start of 2000 BCE, from silver rings, gold bars, to coinages and then paper money. This invention changed the course of entrepreneurship because now the trade could be more distant and earn more profit. With the exchange of ideas and technology across the world via trade, new businesses flourished.

Medieval times:

In medieval times, entrepreneurship shifted again with larger markets now being made. Entrepreneurs could buy raw materials from international traders and turn them into different products and sell them in the marketplaces. This also led to banking system to cater to the problems of the businessmen and small or larger businesses.

1550 to 1800; merchants and explorers were the new entrepreneurs:

In this period, Columbus discovered America and thus exploration let the world of business take a new paradigm. With the resources of America, people started making and selling new type of products. This era also highlights the merchants who along with explorers raised more capital and contributed to economic growth with their risks for better businesses.

Finally the Industrial Revolution:

And finally the industrial revolution took places and changed the course of businesses. Factories and companies flourished and with greater labor force and machinery, new products came into being. Thus this was start of another type of entrepreneurship.


Entrepreneurship goes back to Stone Age and with different ages of the world and revolutions, it changed its course. But one thing remains common, new problems led to new ideas and thus new businesses.

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