Entrepreneur vs Business Owner: Is There a Difference?

Just because you run and own a business doesn’t make you an entrepreneur...and that may well be to your advantage.

The term “entrepreneur” has been hijacked...in my opinion.

Look around and you will see many variations – “solopreneur,” “techpreneur,” “healthpreneur” plus a few more variations and I believe that many business people are classifying themselves, or believe they have to classify themselves as entrepreneurs, but for the wrong reasons.

I am going to give you my take on the differences between being an entrepreneur and a business owner and you should not worry about the classification or differences between the two, as they both have huge merits.

There are many successful business owners who would never classify themselves as entrepreneurs and there are many entrepreneurs who have not enjoyed success in business.

Let's talk about being an entrepreneur vs being a business owner:

An entrepreneur to me is someone who is rooted in what I term “entrepreneurial thinking.”

It is a polite way of saying “I will challenge absolutely everything and look for better” and it is not limited to the world of business.

Entrepreneurial thinking equally exists in the largest corporations and in the children who have those wild, outrageous ideas that enable them to start YouTube channels and make a ton of cash!

I discovered this when I was around nineteen and I found myself in a very uncertain period where I had failed academically, had nothing lined up for my future, but had a burning desire to change the world...piece by piece and starting with the education system that in my eyes, had failed me.

I had ignored the simple fact that I had never attended the college lectures or when I did, I would rather argue with my teachers than actually learn something...and for me, attending college was about going over to my friend's house, who lived across the street to watch Monty Python and Bruce Lee movies, discuss what’s wrong with the world and then make sure we did the absolute minimum to keep our college places to please our parents.

We both ended up starting a business together, which ultimately crashed and burned!

But that was our nature and from that first defeat, we both bounced back into employment to earn some money...only to get fired and then start another business when we were totally unqualified to start the first one!

We simply could not be “told” and we were so married to our ideas, beliefs, and desires to live life in our own way that we would rather try and fail, than not try at all.

But our experiences would end up with us both being in a significant amount of crippling debt that for two guys barely out of our teens, was not a good start to life.

You get the idea.

Now, we had another friend who was studying catering and hotel management – he was a very studious guy who was fixated on passing his exams (as with hindsight, we should have been) and opening a restaurant.

After college, he went out to work for a large hotel and ultimately opened his first restaurant that was very successful, and it led to a few more.

This guy was by no means an entrepreneur in my definition, nor would he claim to be as we both discussed when we met up some years later, but he just had a desire to learn his trade and to ultimately open up a business and he had the discipline to learn and study what was needed to get him to that goal.

Entrepreneurs for me, are far more reliant on instinct than they are on a critical thought process and the outcome of those thoughts; they are far more likely to take their chances on that instinct and will go through with their business idea no matter what.

That was how I operated at the beginning of my entrepreneurial career and as you can imagine, it didn’t always work.

The die-hard businessman however will have taken instinct out of the equation and will have painstakingly conducted the necessary research to validate their business ideas and will launch their company based on that research.

But operating a business has many other components attached to it...especially the personal and emotional ones.

In business things can and do go wrong – sometimes overnight and this is when your true inner strength comes into play...here is where entrepreneurs have the advantage – they simply do not when to quit and will keep battling on, even when they are facing total business failure.

They will simply carry on, no matter what.

What you really need, in my opinion, is a balance between the two and it isn’t that hard to achieve if you can adopt the right mindset.

First, you have to be able to tap into your instinct and if you need help in this area, simply look at children – look at how they are naturally bold, creative, and do things based upon their feelings at the time.

I always remember how, when my children were young, they would run into the arms of complete strangers who came into our house without thinking and then do the opposite to others...nobody could have taught them to do that.

It’s pure instinct and we all had it when we were young.

Second, you have to adopt a “never quit” attitude and that is an overall commitment to your success and not necessarily the business you are operating.

There are many businesses I have started that I should never have started in the first place and then when they were failing, I was too slow to cut my losses and move on.

My “never quit” attitude was admirable, but misplaced!

In business, I believe we should work from instinct first and then look to validate that instinct through taking a straightforward, logical, and factual approach.

It’s taken me a long time to break my own entrepreneurial habits of a lifetime and now, I am far more cautious in my thinking when it comes down to investing or running a business and I certainly know when to cut my losses.

Over my thirty-five year plus entrepreneurial and business career, I have met many people who fall into one or other of the descriptions I have just talked about, and right now, you shouldn’t be concerned which category you fall into – it is far more important to work with what you have and not categorize yourself.

Blog submitted by Neil J C Franklin neiljcfranklin.com


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