Entrepreneur or Business Owner: Is There a Difference?

The concept of being an entrepreneur is not new, but today, being an entrepreneur is growing in popularity and to say you’re an entrepreneur sounds sexy. By my definition, an entrepreneur is an artist of the economy. Entrepreneurs are masterful at turning ideas into products and services, generally with little access to capital. They look for additional streams of revenue, and will never be broke because they always know how to leverage human capital (themselves) and opportunities.

Entrepreneurs know how to be resourceful; they are opportunists. Ask an entrepreneur if they can get something done for you, and the usual response is, ‘I can get it done for you’, even if they can’t do it themselves. They will seek someone who can, and get the job done for you.

They are very passionate about their craft. Entrepreneurs may not be able to tell you much about the financial analysis, but they will be able to tell you everything about how the product or service operates.

Entrepreneurs are risk-takers. They are unafraid to step out and take that leap of faith to pursue their passions. They understand the “window of opportunity’ and look to execute opportunities before that window closes. In addition, they know how to multi-task. They have an innate ability to complete multiple tasks; some even enjoy the feeling of working under pressure.

They are emotional, especially when it comes to their customer’s feelings. They are always looking to establish meaningful relationships with individuals in an attempt to meet their specific needs. Entrepreneurs are visionaries. Many look at the whole picture, understanding what needs to be done in order to meet their goal. Most importantly, they are optimistic, focusing on why something will work and rarely taking time to analyze why it won’t work.

By nature, they are excellent problem solvers, never giving up until a viable solution has been identified. And lastly, not all entrepreneurs have college degrees in business, economics, or finance. Some entrepreneurs do not have college degrees at all. Remember, some have identified an opportunity and are looking to capitalize on that opportunity.

On the other side of the coin is the business owner. Business owners are capitalist, and proud of it. They tend to be myopic in their approach, only seeing their objective and infrequently being open to any alternative strategies to reaching their goal. Business owners are less emotional than entrepreneurs (just as passionate about their business, but less emotional in dealing with customers), and often use the phrase, “it ain’t personal”. Numbers drive this group.

Many business owners are less willing to work ‘off the cuff’ than the entrepreneur. They tend to be strategic in every aspect of the business, as they must have a plan of execution or it won’t get done. Business owners only take calculated risks that are well researched prior to execution, and are less willing to operate ‘out of the box’ than entrepreneurs. Traditional in their approach to business, they tend to rely on what has always worked in the past. That is not to say that a business owner can’t be innovative, because to be a business owner or entrepreneur you must be innovative. Business owners just tend to be more innovative financially, thus lend the phrase, ‘creative financing’.

Business owners tend to ‘be strict about organization and are masters of taking a working concept and building upon that concept. While entrepreneurs are excellent at idea generation, they often lack the knowledge of how to scale or grow their business. Business owners are masters at team building. They know how to build a network of individuals with diverse skill sets to build a brand.

Entrepreneurs are generally sole proprietors, they like doing every aspect of the business themselves, where as business owners see that as a waste of time, energy, and resources. Business owners are excellent salespeople; they know how to sell equity ownership, thus getting other people to share in the risk of building the business.

It is very clear that most entrepreneurs aspire to become successful business owners. It is also clear that business owners need to be entrepreneurial in their approach to business development. While we use the terms entrepreneur and business owner interchangeably, virtually all entrepreneurs create and own their own opportunities; therefore they are rightfully, business owners. Not all business owners created the business themselves. Many of them took advantage of the equity ownership that was offered to them. Entrepreneurial practices and concepts are necessary today if business owners and entrepreneurs plan to continue to do business. Clearly, entrepreneurs and business owners are different; similar, but different.

 

Scott L. Steward, MS, is a Business and Entrepreneurship Educator and Co-Founder of Life UniverCity. Learn more about Scott and Life Univercity at http://www.lifeunivercity.com.