Entrepreneurship is an attitude more than a skill or a profession.
The term “entrepreneur” is thrown around a lot so let’s start by defining it so we’re on the same page. The American Heritage Dictionary defines an entrepreneur to be “a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for business ventures.” In other words, it’s the process of creating or seizing an opportunity, and pursuing it even though there is a risk.
The goals of entrepreneurs may vary but two of the most common are 1. The desire to build or create something out of nothing, and 2. Financial freedom.
Entrepreneurs have a different perspective on things. They want to create something. They seek out opportunities. They watch for “change” or how to improve something. And most importantly, they want to finally be in control of their futures.
To be successful, an entrepreneur understands that they need to be logical and not fall in love with an idea but pursue it only if it’s deemed viable and marketable with a good chance of success. After all, ideas are just that — ideas — until you decide to take action on them.
Here are some common questions I get about what makes an entrepreneur:
Is everyone who runs a business an entrepreneur?
Many may not consider the newspaper carrier, shoeshine person, or grass cutter, entrepreneurs, though these are often early pursuits of those with an entrepreneurial bent.
Does it matter whether the business is part-time?
Some part-time activities are basically hobbies, or undertaken to supplement income and that’s fine. However, planning for growth is what makes an entrepreneur different.
Your path might begin by earning a salary in the business you want to enter, while learning more about it. This time can be used to develop a support network, professional and personal, and generating ideas to “bounce off” people you respect.
At what point does self-employment become a venture?
The primary objective of many self-employed people is merely to employ themselves (and others if necessary) at a moderate to good salary; some are even willing to eke out a living to do what they enjoy. This approach is often referred to as a “lifestyle” business, and is generally accompanied by little, if any, plan for growth.
Would you consider a person who inherits a business an entrepreneur?
From the point of inheritance on, it is their own money and financial security at risk. They could possibly sell the business, invest the proceeds in blue-chip stocks, and live off dividends. Some might consider managing a personal stock portfolio for a living as an entrepreneurial venture.
Would a person who inherited a small or marginal business, then took it to new dimensions be considered an entrepreneur? The inheritor could have tried merely to keep it going, or even to pace the business’ decline to just carry them to retirement. In a family-held business, long-term success is often a central goal.
Are franchise owners entrepreneurs?
Franchises are generally sure things. For many, operating a franchise is an entrepreneurial effort that comes with built in support. That support can make the difference, for many entrepreneurs, in their chances for long term success, eliminating quite a few of the obstacles and hurdles faced by those that decide to “go it alone.”
These questions are intended, not to develop a precise definition of entrepreneurship, but to help us understand our attitude toward its many forms of expression. You may answer them differently. It all depends on what your entrepreneurial attitude is.
Okay, your turn. Tell us your thoughts on these questions (and my answers) below in the comments.