Is Entrepreneur same as Business Owner?

Not usually. A business owner could be entrepreneurial where an entrepreneur likely doesn’t own a business

In the startup community, the word “entrepreneur” is as misunderstood and misplaced as “angel investor” and that misalignment challenges everyone. We are forced to waste time.

  • Entrepreneur
  • Founder
  • Business Owner
  • Inventor
  • CEO
  • Chairman
  • Director
  • Principle
  • Partner

Those are all terms used to describe someone who is leading their own business. But they aren’t terms that should be used interchangeably as they don’t mean the same thing.

Challenging us all is that in our new economy, everyone wants to be an “entrepreneur,” as it’s the term that embodies the characteristics of that new work-life integration. But are we really all becoming entrepreneurs? Is it in our best interest to consider us so, when an entrepreneur is very very different from a founder, someone very different from an business owner?

More importantly, how can we possibly network, partner, and work with similarly minded professionals, leveraging synergy, when regardless of what we call one another, the needs of an Entrepreneur are VERY different from the needs of a Founder, business Owner, CEO, or Partner?

What is an Entrepreneur?

Traditionally, an entrepreneur has been considered a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

The term entrepreneur was coined by an admirer of Adam Smith’s book, The Wealth of Nations (which I’m presuming, nay, hoping you know). Entrepreneuris a French word coined by the economist Jean-Baptiste Say, and usually is translated as, “adventurer”. Say studied Smith’s book and, while agreeing on all points, found that the omission of enterprising ‘businessmen’ was a serious flaw. Yes, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, one of the world’s first and arguably founding works on what builds nations’ wealth, neglected to consider the entrepreneur.

Say pointed out that it was entrepreneurs who sought out inefficient uses of resources and capital and moved them into more productive, higher yield areas. Entrepreneurs seek opportunities for profit and, by doing so, create new markets and fresh opportunities.

I can do that on the job. I can do that as a stay at home dad. I can do that as an investor. I can do that as a startup founder or business owner.

Entrepreneur is a personality trait, not a job title; because in as much as I COULD be like that in those roles, there is nothing about those roles that says being entrepreneurial is required, better, or worse: many successful business owners (dare I say most), are NOT entrepreneurial.

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