‘I’m an entrepreneur.’
It’s been shouted from the rooftops by many, but I’m not sure that everyone truly knows what it means. If you look at Merriam-Webster’s definition, the key point of the definition is:, “…assumes risk.” To a point, all business owners assume risk, but the entrepreneur is a risk junkie—someone we see taking so many risks on such a high level that, until they’re successful, can seem a bit eccentric. Being an entrepreneur is truly business ownership as an extreme sport.
After interviewing many, many entrepreneurs and business owners, I think there are a few key areas where the two differ. The two desire to work for themselves, but that’s where the similarities end. Most business owners will not make a dollar if they take the day off, but an entrepreneur tries not to make their pay tied to their hours, but rather the grandness of their creation.
Entrepreneurs tend to be those big dreamers, the ones that have a vision so large that everyone thinks they are crazy. With each failure, they are criticized until one day they finally strike it big, then they’re just eccentric. Where as a business owner is more interested in meeting the current financial plan and how it will keep them operating for the next 3-6 months. Entrepreneurs aren’t interested in the right now, which is a strength, but also a flaw; it can sometimes result in undo stress.
Many business owners would rather just do it themselves, and because of this, they have difficulty in scaling their business. An entrepreneur looks for someone that is the best at their skill set and hires them, because their time is just way more valuable “dreaming.” After all, their big dream is the company vision. Being able to delegate is key to building a company that can expand and truly create that big vision.
Business owners take the risk of starting a business, but they stay small because they are afraid to risk it all. Some entrepreneurs tend to live their lives as if they were perpetually standing before a Vegas craps table. I think the balance between the two here is the real key to success—taking smarter risks. If you never take a big risk, then you can never win big.
I think the final key element is their outlook on freedom. They both want freedom from a boss, though, for an entrepreneur it is more likely because their boss would fire them. While they both tend to be generous people, entrepreneurs tend to be able to create the bigger scale model and foundations that impact the masses. They view success as creating success, so they can give it to others, just like an airline directing you to put your own oxygen mask on before fastening your children’s. To them freedom is the oxygen they breath, and they would rather die than not breath.
Though both successful in their own right, not every business owner is an entrepreneur, they are a rare breed; sometimes to a fault. This is not to put down people who are very successful business owners but rather to stress that the entrepreneur is an entirely different animal. Entrepreneurship is the ultimate extreme sport, and just like playing professional football, not everyone is cut out for it. I urge you to ask yourself: “Am I a business owner, or am I an entrepreneur.”