Fast lane: Why you might not be an entrepreneur

Fast lane: Why you might not be an entrepreneur

Like ‘startup’ one of the key buzzwords now is ‘entrepreneur’.

It seems entrepreneurs are a dime a dozen: but are all small business owners really entrepreneurs?

Leela Cosgrove, chief executive of Strategic Anarchy, argues in Profitalist that if your work is building, selling and buying businesses then you are an entrepreneur.

But if you would never sell your business, you’re not an entrepreneur but an artist.  

“If you’d struggle to let go of the thing you’ve built, if it’s your passion, if you love your community and your employees—then chances are, you are NOT an entrepreneur,” she says.

Meanwhile in a SmartCompany interview, Danielle Logue, senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney’s Business School says entrepreneurs bring new products and services to market, and commercialise new technologies.

A business person may also make improvements on products and services and still take risks, but they’re often doing so within existing industries or systems, and so they’re not entrepreneurs.

Using the distinctions set out by Cosgrove and Logue here’s how you can tell if you’re an entrepreneur:

  • Entrepreneurs are good quitters and they know when to walk away
  • Entrepreneurs always have an exit plan for their business
  • Entrepreneurs are good leaders and can delegate instead of struggling to let go of the reins
  • Entrepreneurs bring genuinely new products and services to the market instead of making improvements on existing ones
  • Entrepreneurs look for funding instead of being horrified by the idea of giving even a small percentage of their business to someone else
  • Entrepreneurs will be involved in many businesses throughout their lives, often in completely unrelated industries

According to Cosgrove’s definition Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett are artists but Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg are entrepreneurs.

The large number of SME owners out there with no exit plan for their business suggests the end game of selling is not high on their agenda and many people who say they are entrepreneurs are, in fact, not.

But in the end does it really matter?

Whatever you call yourself if you have taken the risk of running a business we should be celebrating your achievements rather than squabbling over whether you are an entrepreneur, an artist or just a plain and simple small business owner.


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