In recent years, the word ‘entrepreneur’ has become a real fashion word and is seen by many individuals, organizations and governments as the main cure for future unemployment issues.
But what does being an entrepreneur actually mean? Lets check out what the web says:
Business Dictionary (.com)
Someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. An entrepreneur supplies risk capital as a risk taker, and monitors and controls the business activities. The entrepreneur is usually a sole proprietor, a partner, or the one who owns the majority of shares in an incorporated venture. According to economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950), entrepreneurs are not necessarily motivated by profit but regard it as a standard for measuring achievement or success.
The Free Dictionary (.com)
The owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits.
An entrepreneur is a person who starts and runs a business or organization. An entrepreneur is also called a founder. He or she develops a business plan, obtains financing and hires employees necessary to run the business. The entrepreneur starts with a good idea for a new business. While the business grows, the entrepreneur is the central person in the business.
Just looking at those three examples shows that there is no real common idea of what an entrepreneur actually is. I am sure if you investigate further you will find even more descriptions of an entrepreneur.
To define a clear meaning, lets go back and have a look at the word itself
entrepreneur (ˌɒntrəprəˈnɜː; French ɑ̃trəprənœr) from the French word ‘entreprendre’ meaning to undertake.
Looking at this you could rightly think that the direct translation of entrepreneur into the English language would mean ‘undertaker’. I don’t think that this is the real meaning, but it explains why we kept the French word ‘entrepreneur’.
In German the word is unternehmer, which means a person who makes things happen. There is also the word unternehmen which loosely means company or organization.
In Spanish the word is empresario which means something like ‘business person’ and is strongly related to the word empresa, meaning ‘business’.
The verb ‘to undertake’ doesn’t really say that entrepreneurs run a business, but that they take actions into their own hands and make things happen. But when looking at the different translations, it is easy to understand why most people translate the word ‘entrepreneur’ as ‘business person’.
That is also why we started to use words like intrapreneur or social entrepreneur to differentiate from the basic meaning of ‘business person’. None of those words are clearly defined either and the explanations found on Wikipedia vary a lot.
To sum it all up…
Intrapreneurs are described as entrepreneurs working within the confinement of an existing company in order to advanced the company’s business or to find new business opportunities.
Social Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs with a clear social aspect where the created value and success is for the benefit of people and not measured in profit. Most social entrepreneurs are very active in charities and non-profit organizations.
I believe the reason for the confusion of the meaning is because we are trying to be far too precise with our definition. It is like saying cars are Ford Mustangs.
For this article I will chunk it up a bit and define it as following:
‘A person that intentionally creates value for themself and/or others‘.
I guess it doesn’t matter if you relate entrepreneurship to yourself as a person or your business.
In the end it always requires an action and in this way it creates change in the role of change-maker.
In my experience as an entrepreneur, I found it very difficult to actually define the area I see myself in as an entrepreneur. What ever I did always impacted every aspect of my life and I strongly believe that a separation between business and private is not possible for an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur is what you are, not a job!
This is an important statement as it describes the entrepreneur as a person not a business.
Being an entrepreneur is about the way you look at things. It is about being an active part in the creation of the future of the things important to you. An entrepreneur creates his or her own future. The opposite would be a person who waits to see what happens and then reacts.
Like with everything, actively taking part in something carries the risk of failing. It is hard to fail if you do nothing, but at the same time hard to achieve anything.
This is why often you hear the words ‘risk taker’ in relation to entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur doesn’t really see the risk as a decisive factor in creating his or her future, but sees the risk as a form of event to learn from. Entrepreneurs are driven by the imagination of a possible future that they actively take part in to create.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
To find an analogy, imagine setting up your first date with the girl or guy of your dreams. An entrepreneur looks at the amazing time he or she will have with this great girl or guy, gets into action and gets the date. While someone else might do nothing, because he or she doesn’t believe to ever get a date in the first place or waits for the other one to make the first move.
Of course there is the risk to get rejected and not to get the date, but the same risk exists for the other one. The real difference is that the entrepreneur can learn from his or her mistake and improve the technique or approach, while the person who does nothing has nothing to learn to improve any future outcome.
I agree it is not the best analogy, but I hope you get the point.
I do believe that everyone can be an entrepreneur, because all it requires is a change of the way you think. The rest you can learn. For some that is not easy and some will never even attempt to become an entrepreneur.
Like with most things today, a whole industry has been created around entrepreneurs providing you with every service and product under the sun to help you succeed.
There is only one question left: Are you an entrepreneur?