Who wants to be an entrepreneur?!
I have recently come across a couple of articles discussing the topic of entrepreneurship – in particular what makes an entrepreneur and what skills and attributes are commonly shared amongst those considered or labelled as ‘entrepreneurs’.
This got me thinking about my experience of working with business owners – some of whom would call themselves entrepreneurs and others who would shy away from the title.
The official definition of an entrepreneur according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is:
“A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”
By this definition, pretty much anyone who sets up a business as a commercial enterprise is an entrepreneur. Yet according to some, the title should be reserved for those in a particular bracket of business ownership – the risk takers, the daredevils, those with that certain ‘entrepreneurial streak’ that can’t be clearly defined or identified.
Whilst few would argue that someone such as Richard Branson was an entrepreneur, would you similarly call someone who left a job to set up as a consultant – perhaps doing marketing, offering business consultancy, coaching or similar – an entrepreneur?
To my mind, the answer is yes!
No matter what the level of business in which you operate, taking the step out of the comfort of employment into the world of generating your own income involves financial risk – thus meeting the first part of the dictionary definition. Whilst there may be many reasons for leaving a job and setting up on your own – perhaps for greater freedom and flexibility, because you couldn’t get on with your boss or maybe because you know you could do a better job of servicing clients – you would almost always hope to make a profit – therefore meeting the second criteria according to the OED.
Outside of this, there are always the business owners who ended up there almost by accident, or at least by default!! Taking a big financial risk and thereafter having the headache of managing staff, being responsible for business premises, along with all of the other stresses and strains of being a business owner (or entrepreneur) is rarely something that people gladly or willingly enter into!
As well as having the potential to reap the rewards when all is going well, it’s easy to forget that being an entrepreneur isn’t always a great success story and it certainly isn’t always easy. There are the months when everything seems to go wrong, the tough times when you lose a big client and even the everyday niggles of things like chasing invoices, managing payment schedules and a personal favourite – doing your monthly expenses!
So let’s cut the entrepreneurs out there a bit of slack. After all, everyone has to start somewhere – even the biggest businesses started as an idea or a small enterprise. You only need to look at Amazon – a small book selling business started in a garage! And the rest, as they say, is history…