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Word Defined: What is an Entrepreneur?

Updated: Jun 3, 2022



What is an Entrepreneur? Can you define it? Is someone who starts a business automatically an entrepreneur? Can employees be entrepreneurs? What journey do entrepreneurs go on?


When this word made it into our common language, entrepreneur was a specific type of businessperson, is that still the case?


Media tells us stories about these amazing people called entrepreneurs who have made a lot of money and live a life most only dream about. We see these bigger than life extraordinary entrepreneurs who have created huge corporate organizations, which they still actively lead. Are they still entrepreneurs after their company becomes a juggernaut of processes & red tape? And if so, does this make every CEO an entrepreneur? Can anyone be an entrepreneur?


The answer lies in the definition of the word, however, the word itself has lost its meaning by being overused in all aspects of professional life.




The Meaning of the Word Entrepreneur is...



The word “entrepreneur” originates from the French verb, entreprendre, meaning “to do something” or “to undertake.” In the 16th century the word entrepreneur meant someone who undertakes a business venture.


In 1730, Richard Cantillon defined it as, “The willingness to bear the personal financial risk of a business venture as the defining characteristic of an entrepreneur.” John Stuart Mill said an entrepreneur is, “A person who assumes both the risk and the management of a business.” So, an investor who takes on risk without the work is not an entrepreneur.


In the twentieth century, Joseph Schumpeter said, “An entrepreneur is an innovator who implements change in an economy by introducing new goods or new methods of production.” He believed entrepreneurs were the people who created new things and processes which fully replaced the ‘old way’ making things obsolete.


His contemporary, Israel Kirzner, defined the entrepreneur as someone who discovers previously unnoticed profit opportunities, which grows until the market competition wipes out the profit opportunity.


This occurs as populations move into new areas, growing opportunity for multiple types of businesses to open up, until the growth of the city stops or decreases.


In the 1980s and the 1990s local governments adopted Kirzner’s ideology and switched their focus to attracting entrepreneurs in the form of small business owners. This is the time the word gained popularity and became an acceptable profession to study in post-secondary schools.


Today, most of Canada’s economy is made up of entrepreneurs, small business owners who are trying to make a living by building their own small dreams. Not all entrepreneurs own private jets or live in mansions around the world, most of us are just like you, except we created our jobs.


Is it any surprise that thirty years later the definition of the word has become muddied and is overused?



The Dictionaries Define Entrepreneur as ...



The Oxford dictionary says, “A person who makes money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks.”


1) Is a Person

2) Makes money

3) Starts a business

4) Runs a business

5) Takes financial risks


The definition from the Cambridge dictionary is, “Someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity”


1) A Person

2) Starts a business

3) Sees a new opportunity


The Merriam-Webster dictionary says, “One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”


1) Person

2) Organizes

3) Manages

4) Assumes Risk

5) Any business

6) Enterprise included

You may be wondering why I am putting so much effort into defining a word. I mean what does it matter? Who cares what the actual definition is?


How many of you communicate via text, IM, email? How many have received a one-word text? A simple sentence IM? A quickly typed email? AND misunderstood what the sender meant, interpreted it wrong, resulting in an emotionally charged reaction? I do this all the time.

Given, a word like Entrepreneur does not result in an emotionally charged misunderstanding, however when one reads a job description and it says they are looking for someone who is entrepreneurial, what are they looking for?


An employer wants to hire an entrepreneur as an employee? Is that possible? And if so how?

I know, failed entrepreneurs can be looking for work as employees, however, can they be satisfied in an employee role if they are truly an entrepreneurial person? As you can tell, my mind will keep asking questions to try to understand what is meant.


Managers, business leaders, thought leaders, and business reporters tend to grasp at the latest buzz word to make it sound like they are in the know, they are at the cusp of the next idea, and the person we need to pay attention to. Yet, most use these buzz words wrong, overuse time, put them into their corporate materials and the words lose all meaning.

I hope you will start asking questions when someone throws around a buzzword, a new word, or any defining word of a sentence to understand what they really mean. I doubt most really understand exactly what they want.




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Business Leaders say the Meaning of the Word Entrepreneur is...



When I was helping Anthony C. Gruppo write his latest book, Pushers of the Possible (available on Amazon - just saying), he told me, “Everyone can be a CEO. It is all in how you define the role.” Anthony defines CEO as, “Coaching yourself and others, be Entrepreneurial in your thinking, and Own the position.” Does this sound like you?


What does it mean to be Entrepreneurial? If everyone can be entrepreneurial, is being one as common as a penny, before Canada made them obsolete?


Then I met Cameron Chell. During his weekly Build Impossible calls, he talks about his definition of the Entrepreneur, as it applies to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, saying entrepreneurs are a unique breed who need the self-actualization before everything else.

I asked ask my connections on LinkedIn for their definition.




How People Define the Word Entrepreneur



The following people provided their definition of the word Entrepreneur as they experience it on their entrepreneurial journey.

The entrepreneur decides which product or service to offer, obtain the needed facilities, hires the required labor force, acquire production materials, and provides for the capital.


Monte Clark - Sure. I can define it for you Shannon Peel. Being an entrepreneur is akin to being a Navy seal. A base jumper, a ropeless cliff climber, a sky diver, a homeless person, an artist, a general, a warrior, a romantic, a counselor, and a lunatic all while loving every single minute of it!


Tom Broxham - Really good question Shannon Peel. Some words become used so often they become buzzwords and lose all meaning. It is easy to say someone is but it is hard for someone to actually be an entrepreneur. What people don’t see is all the work, dedication in behind being one.


Marilyn Anderson - When I think of the Entrepreneurs I know, a few common traits come to mind, among them - Curiosity, problem-solving, passion to create/help/achieve, interest in people, willing to share, ready to work hard and focus with passion/risk for their dream, realistic and hard-working, engaging and persuasive......


Toni Serofin - I’ve refused to call myself an entrepreneur in the past because I’ve only created one company (and, a sole proprietorship at that) and I have zero desire to build anything more. However, I’ve expanded my view on the topic because I’ve come to see my determination and commitment to what I do as entrepreneurial. Originally, I thought an entrepreneur would typically have the interest and ability to create more than one business over their lifetime.


Neil Pretty - Interesting question. I believe that entrepreneurs have a few qualities in common: a singular belief that their ideas put into action will fundamentally shift paradigms, that there is and should be a financial compensation for that action (even for non-profit entrepreneurs), they seek people that challenge THEM to grow but don’t get in the way or degrade their vision, they are comfortable with risk, and they have at last ONE thing in their life that is VERY stable that they can count on (like my wife for example).... this can be Intrepreneurial or entrepreneurial and does not mean they have what it takes to be a CEO. The traits are different and both may or May not be held by the same person. The SuccessFinder has a particular view on this based on 40+ years of data. It is compelling and accurate. It also provides perspective that even within a group that is extremely well suited that there are many roads to Rome.


Accumulated Interests - Entrepreneurs have a unique mindset and some have it more naturally than others (not all CEO’s have it but the good ones learn to recognize the gift in others who have it). To become a successful/effective entrepreneur takes training and the ability to build a team around vision. The top entrepreneurs are only as good as the team they put on the field.


It still isn’t clear, so I went to Facebook and entered a post search for, “What does the word Entrepreneur mean?” These are some of the definitions I found.


Gregor Hočevar - Entrepreneur. What does that mean? A definition says that entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. Ok. But I also like to say, that entrepreneur is anyone who’s had ups and downs. A human that has fallen numerous times but yet still had the strength to stand up again.



Entrepreneurship is the process of creating a new business, product or service. The entrepreneur is the person who embarks on this journey and takes on the risks in order to pursue his/her dreams.


The definition of an entrepreneur is not just limited to business owners but also includes those who start up a company, create a product or service from scratch, or even create an online community.


Entrepreneurship can be difficult and even risky at times. It is important for entrepreneurs to have strong skillsets that help them navigate through their journey as they take on many responsibilities such as marketing, finance, and human resources management



In my mind, and entrepreneur is someone who is taking an idea from 0 to 1. Someone who has the vision, the passion, and the dream. They are willing to suffer the inevitable LOWS that come in business and life. Yet they get back up, dust themselves off, and push ahead.




The ultimate risk taker. An entrepreneur is a person who is willing to take the risks that others are not and are able to build a vision out fo thin air where others would not be willing to try. A business owner on the other hand is a person who likes to take on a pre-established or fully operational business. An entrepreneur takes risks on ideas that are not yet established.



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Sound familiar?


A person who has been thinking how to solve problems although naysayers said it can’t be done. Someone who is so passionate about what they are doing that they don’t look at the clock nor count how many hours it will take to do the job. Yes, that can be any person in the world, including you and no you don’t have to own a business to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Being a wonderful parent needs the same values, also someone who has hobbies has them.


Education plays a big part and is very important. And when I say education, I don’t mean formal education but the one you get through life and work experiences. Those are priceless. Reading books, attending workshops, masterminds, having a mentor. That kind of education will take you to another level. When I educate myself I don’t do it because I want to look smarter. This post is not about me. It’s about bringing something more to society, customers, children, spouse or to yourself.

What the word Entrepreneur means to those on social media


On Reddit


Wannabe2good - A man who works best under the heavy thumb of a cruel taskmaster, himself.

Unknown - Chief Cook and Bottle Washer


Zigs - A generalist, a jack of all trades with the ability to sort through a well of ideas and find a golden one... Has the ability or resources to organize correct validation And execute the idea.



Quotes about the Definition of Entrepreneur



“If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you. Forget about vacations, about going home at 6 PM. Last thing at night you’ll send emails, first thing in the morning you’ll read emails, and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s hugely rewarding, as you’re fulfilling something for yourself.” – Niklas Zennstrom, Co-founder, Skype


“Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise. They willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.” – Victor Kiam, American entrepreneur


“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s


“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Student of Warren G. Tracy


“Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.” Richard Branson


“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” – Reid Hoffman, Entrepreneur, VC, Author




Entrepreneurs who do the right thing


How MarketAPeel Helps Entrepreneurs Tell Their Stories to the Market.

The guided DIY approach to telling your entrepreneurial story.

MarketAPeel members have access to challenges with step by step tasks to guide them through the storytelling process. Each Challenge has its own objective to help you meet your brand storytelling goals. There are even personal storytelling and journalling programs to help you record your thoughts and feelings. You decide the pace. We provide the process.



We are all Entrepreneurs.



Billie Sinclair shared Gary V’s definition of an entrepreneur: Preparation, Competitiveness, Deep Passion for the Game.


After asking the question about the word’s definition, I am even more confused about what makes one businessperson an entrepreneur and another, not one. Perhaps you can help me by providing your definition in the comments.


Regardless of your definition, people are taking risks and embracing the independence and freedoms of being a business owner in today's economy.



Do you have an entrepreneurial journey story to share? Submit your story to be published in a MarketAPeel Digital Magazine.



Entrepreneur Stories Published in APeeling Digital Magazine



Vanya Wryter shares her entrepreneurial journey with APeeling readers.


It wasn’t an easy road to take. My friends didn’t understand. When I worked long hours, they asked if I was going to get paid overtime. If a friend said her boss just asked her to work on the weekend, other friends offered their sympathy. If I said I was also working the weekend, they would suggest I take some time off.


Fast forward to this year, and I had learned a lot about running a business. There was a lot more to marketing and networking than I had expected. I met other entrepreneurs and found a kinship that was crucial to everyday survival. It wasn’t strange to work weekends anymore. It wasn’t unusual to send emails late at night.


Most importantly, I realized I was stronger than I thought possible. That was truly the key to working for myself. Read more about this Entrepreneur's story




Most of Canada’s economy is made up of entrepreneurs, small business owners who are trying to make a living by building their own small dreams. Not all entrepreneurs own private jets or live in mansions around the world, most of us are just like you except we created our jobs.


The world quickly changed the way we lived and those who find themselves unemployed may look to entrepreneurism as a solution to their current situation.


There are many different reasons why someone starts a business. This month I asked the women in the Vancouver Women in Business Facebook Group, why did you start your business? The answers were varied and insightful as many of these answers were the same as mine throughout my dance with entrepreneurism. Read why Women in Vancouver Choose to be Entrepreneurs.



In his twenties, with a wife, a newborn, and a toddler depending on his income, Jordan Uytterhagen did what most consider unthinkable, he left a secure job with a government agency to start Cadence Solutions an IT consultant firm.


Jordan realized that “As a bunch of internal people doing this for the first time, we exceeded the industry bar. If we can start an organization to do this professionally, to fill the gap in the market, especially in Western Canada where there were no companies using open text, we could be successful.” He left a secure position for a three-month contract in a different city, promising his wife it would work out.


One of the ways he helped clients keep costs down was to ... Read how and more about Jordon's Entrepreneurial Journey to Success




If I was going to stay an independent adult, I had to take stock of my life, my skills, my talents, and my opportunities. I had to make a change and fast. The good news, during my long stint trying to find a J O B, I had a list. I had all the information. All I had to do was remove what didn’t work and what didn’t work, was my own sense of value.


Most of the time, I didn’t charge people for my work because I wanted to help someone I knew and didn’t feel comfortable charging them for my help, even if it was a business relationship. When I did charge for my time, I didn’t invoice for everything I did. I did more than originally agreed upon, at the agreed upon rate.


Doing more than is expected of me. Expanding my skill set. Providing extra value. Delivering a quality product. Helping others, giving to Read more about my frustrating entrepreneurial journey




I interviewed Shawn Judge of DV Clothiers for a marketing video series and he told me how he started a custom men’s fashion company: He took a huge risk, made a fortuitous connection, and built a start-up that makes men in Vancouver look good.


His story started five years ago with a vacation to Thailand, where on a whim, he bought his first custom made suits. He loved how the suits felt compared to his off the rack wardrobe. The compliments he received confirmed that a custom made wardrobe, not only felt better, it looked better.


Discover more about his entrepreneurial journey by exploring... Read more about how Entrepreneur Shawn Judge made DV Clothiers a Success.




The meaning of the word entrepreneur has changed over time and it continues to be defined and redefined by people in online and off. Do you have your own definition of the word? Please share it in the comments and I'll add it to this article about what an entrepreneur is and what the word really means in the English language.




Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter and the Twitter board has accepted the offer, which probably surprised some people. I know it surprised me. I thought it was just another one of his attention getting stunts. Social Media platforms have people talking about the future of Twitter and some folks have already jumped ship. Is the Privatization of Twitter under Elon Musk a good thing or the end for the platform?



 

Shannon Peel is a storyteller, content creator, and digital publisher of interactive, multimedia digital magazines. Want to know more about how you can have your entrepreneur story published in a MarketAPeel publication? Click the link.






Words Defined


What is Thought Leadership?


The term “Thought Leader” became a buzzword and started to lose clarity of meaning when people adopted it to make their brand sound academic. Can a thought leader be someone who has read books, knows the theory, but has done nothing in the industry they are trying to be leaders in? Or are they a certain type of leader who is an expert in their field, has the respect of their peers, and has the experience to learn the lessons first hand. I searched out the internet to find out what others think.


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When this word made it into our common language, entrepreneur was a specific type of businessperson, is that still the case?

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