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Research into the issue of entrepreneurship in Western countries has triggered a several-decade long discussion of the distinction between ‘real entrepreneurs’ as seen by J. Schumpeter and small business owners. Undoubtedly, the small group of dynamic small companies within the small and medium-sized companies segment demonstrates common characteristics, distinct from other groups. It turns out that it is, in fact, the new dynamic companies that play an important role in decreasing unemployment (as newly established companies from the traditional small business sector only replace those that disappeared from the market).

A significant obstacle in the above analysis was the impossibility to determine a strict demarcation line between the dynamic business segment and the traditional small and medium sized companies sector. Over the past few years (since 2002) this issue has been addressed in an international extensive research program on entrepreneurship activity Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) which covers Poland as well. The notion of a dynamic, innovative business depicted in the book draws on the high-potential venture idea adopted for the purposes of this research.

New high potential ventures are those which meet at least on of the criteria listed below (Autio E., High-Potential Entrepreneurship. United Nations, 2003, p. 3):

- Initiators of ventures intending to reach headcount of 19 people minimum within the first 5 years since start-up (according to the latest research by GEM this threshold was set at 20 employees);

- The market offer being innovative in nature which consists in lack of competitors or if such exist, in a narrow market segment;

- Part of the target customers of the company being based abroad (export);

- The technologies applied having been known to the company for less than a year (innovative nature of the technological process).

As stems from the above set of criteria, the range of high potential ventures is extensive and such is the approach I have adopted in the textbook.

It is worth noting that in recent years high developed countries - members of the OECD have been reporting an economic policy evolution process with respect to the small and medium sized companies, which entails the application of methods and tools to support the dynamic sector, which methods are far different from those used to assist the traditional small business sector (see: Lundstrom A., Stevenson L.A., Entrepreneurship Policy: Theory and Practice, Springer, New York 2005).