Entrepreneurs are from all walks of life. They have varying degrees of skill and education. Some take more risks than others, but risk is there, nonetheless. Of course, there are many, many other characteristics and traits, and many combinations thereof.
So, really, what is an “entrepreneur?” What does it truly mean? Are there varying degrees of being an entrepreneur – different classes, different levels?
These were the questions I recently asked in the LinkedIn Franchise Executives Group. Below are some of the insights and perspective from franchise professionals that participated in the discussion.
What is the true definition of, “Entrepreneur?”
“Personally, I feel you get a number of different definitions of an Entrepreneur. Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.
1) Born Entrepreneur: Somebody that from an early age was active in earning money in exchange for products or services. These people never considered becoming an employee.
2) A “Must-Preneur”: Somebody who through chance or circumstance sees no other option than to become an entrepreneur. This might be due anything from to age to an utter lack of job opportunities
3) An opportunistic entrepreneur: Somebody who sees an opportunity to start a business but has a contract to provide services to their current employer. E.g. Head of IT starting his own company to provide services to their previous employer
4) An executive entrepreneur: Somebody who has reached the top of an executive ladder and views starting their own business as a way to progress further. They usually have a decent amount of money saved up and a fantastic business network to tap into.
5) The Family Entrepreneur: Start a business in order to spend more time with family. Lifestyle is the main motivator.
6) Mumpreneur: A mother who sees no other way of earning a flexible income whilst raising her family. Usually run highly efficient businesses.”
“An entrepreneur is a person who will see the embryonic seeds of an opportunity well in advance of others. Others will eventually only see a lost opportunity. An entrepreneur will see risk as an opportunity. Others will see opportunity as a risk. An entrepreneur will look forward to the challenges and hard work that an opportunity will bring. Others will only see an uphill struggle. An entrepreneur will continue to work at that opportunity irrespective of set backs, make mistakes, pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes. Others will give up the fight when the going gets tough. An entrepreneur will work outside of the normal business framework in order to feel free and unrestricted whilst others will have a need to build an even stronger framework in order just to feel safe. When the opportunity is finally realised, an entrepreneur will not say ‘I told you so’. An entrepreneur will say to themselves not others, ‘I knew I could do it’. Others will say, ‘I wish I had done that’.”
“I think that we all, at one time or another, have what we believe is a great idea, the difference is that the entrepreneur will seize it, grab the ball and run with it, where most people will look back and say: I woulda, coulda, shoulda; the difference is implementation and execution. When I was a youngster, I used to ride horses a lot and the first lesson you are taught is when you get thrown off of the horse, you immediately get back on, for if you don’t, you will have a fear of doing so for the rest of your life. Marc, I would agree with you that being a business owner does not necessarily mean that you are an entrepreneur; most people who buy a franchise are looking for security (avoidance of risk), a structured environment and direction as to what to do and how to do it.”
I also posted this discussion on Facebook on my personal page at http://www.Facebook.com/PaulSegreto and I’d like to share the responses below, mostly from individuals within the franchise community…
“For me- it was a burning desire to create something that would change the world. Simply owning a business was not my motivating factor.”
“I was tired of being told how to run a business by people that had no clue how to manage people or a business. When you get to that point you just say screw it I am doing my own thing. You are never alone either. surround yourself with people that are positive and are open to you sharing ideas at a much higher level.”
“For me-it was an opportunity to offer a service that my former employer would not or could not provide. I also got tired off working my butt of to benefit someone else. Owning my own business has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and to provide them financially.”
“An entrepreneur is someone who doesn’t like following rules. Someone who wants to eventually make them. For me, I became an entrepreneur because I was sick and tired of working for a bunch of idiots. These goofballs were making way too much money…and i wasn’t. So, I took a risk. Joined my Dad’s franchise consulting firm in 2001. Now, I’m a solo entrepreneur. And, the King of the Castle. It’s been a fun ride. There are several more roads for me to cruise on. Join me.”
“The more I sold mgt. would adjust my comp plan to lower my pay. I got burnt out on them fundamentally not getting that the more sold the better off everyone would be. So I became a competitor starting with folding chair, table and legal pad. Now I have lost my table and chair! Just kidding, I have never looked back.”
There were also some negative and saracastic responses including, “I thought entrepreneur was French for unemployed. Can’t we just be business owners?” to which I submitted my own comments…
“I believe the derogatory comments have been increasing because so many individuals lost jobs during the economic downturn and then decided, well, I’ll be an entrepreneur. It really doesn’t work that way for true entrepreneurship. For them, it’s about the money. It’s about survival. It’s about replacing a job! That is not entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship, to me is looking to make a difference. Looking to change the way things are done. Sure, money is great but money should just be the result of your actions and success and the primary force at the beginning. Think about the true entrepreneurs of the world… Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban and of course, there are many more. Quitting school, operating out of garages, pushing to be leading edge with something different, disagreeing with the way industry leaders were doing things, and the list goes on – it wasn’t about the money or even the thought of riches to come. It was about change. It was about making a difference. It was about taking risk when they didn’t even think there was risk involved because they knew they would succeed. It was their conviction to perfection.
Now, I’ll retract some… entrepreneurs do exist at many different levels and there are many within small business (and franchising) today. But the things that are common to all are what I’ve described above, but not as it may relate to society at-large, but to their families, their friends, their community. So, I’ll throw this definition out there – an entrepreneur is one that wants to make a difference, doing so by motivating and encouraging change all the while being aware of risk but challenging risk with clear perspective and innovation, never losing sight of their goals and the always driving forward even in the face of setbacks and failure.”
So, let’s keep the discussion alive… What do you think? – What is the true definition of, “Entrepreneur?”