So what is an entrepreneur?
I first came across the term ‘entrepreneur’ some 20 years ago as part of my A-level Economics course!
I was taught that an entrepreneur was a rare business person and that the list of entrepreneurs was an extremely exclusive list of individuals with an extraordinary talent for global business, such as: Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, Ingvar Kamprad etc.
I associated the word entrepreneur with global success and a role model for those seeking to build their won business. It seems to me that nowadays, we use the term much more freely. In fact, just type the word ‘entrepreneur’ into Google and you will see straight away just how common a term it has become.
It seems to have become synonymous with individuals who have enterprising ideas, but who do not necessarily build them into a success.
So could an entrepreneur be an ideas generator but a business failure? Absolutely, this perception has resulted in a few negative connotations of the term. In fact the true definition of entrepreneur is an owner of a business who attempts to make money by risk and initiative. Therefore, an entrepreneur is just as likely to be a failure as a success.
According to Scott Shane, the American author of ‘The illusions of Entrepreneurship’, entrepreneurs have become much more common, but that the average entrepreneur is a relative failure. He states that this is because an entrepreneur finds him or herself working longer hours and earning less money than other employees.
In fact in a recent study of 1,200 business owners carried out by Sage, only 4% considered themselves to be entrepreneurs. Contrarily, 53% said that they were happier to be known as ‘business owners’.
You could say that this indicates that either most business owners don’t feel worthy of the title in its traditional sense, or maybe they just don’t want the title in its new sense! There are different types of entrepreneurs these days: business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and Internet entrepreneurs.
The Internet entrepreneur seems to have taken over the new identity of a modern entrepreneur. Other than Facebook’s Mark Zuckerman, you might be hard pushed to name most of the others. But you would be familiar with their online creations.
So the current list of entrepreneurs studied by today’s students, is likely to be very different. However, I would assume that the same famous names of twentieth century business leadership are still on the list.
On that list should be Lord Alan Sugar, who has become almost as known for his TV role as for his business success. Lord Sugar has his own views on what makes an entrepreneur. For him, if you call yourself an entrepreneur, then you are probably not one.
The title of an entrepreneur is what other people call you!