Entrepreneurship Defined: What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur

The road to entrepreneurship is often a treacherous one filled with unexpected detours, roadblocks and dead ends. There are lots of sleepless nights, plans that don’t work out, funding that doesn’t come through, and customers that never materialize. It can be so challenging to launch a business that it may make you wonder why anyone willingly sets out on such a path.

Despite all of these hardships, every year, thousands of entrepreneurs embark on this journey determined to bring their vision to fruition and fill a need they see in society. They open brick-and-mortar businesses, launch tech startups, or bring a new product or service into the marketplace.

An entrepreneur identifies a need that no existing business addresses and determines a solution for that need. The entrepreneurial activity includes developing and launching new businesses and marketing them, often with the end goal of selling the business to turn a profit.

An entrepreneur who regularly launches new businesses, sells them, and then starts new businesses is a serial entrepreneur. Additionally, although the term “entrepreneur” is often associated with startups and small businesses, any founder of a successful household-name business began as an entrepreneur.

If you want to become an entrepreneur but worry you don’t have the money for it, your finances don’t have to stop you from achieving your goals. Many entrepreneurs seek the initial funding for their pursuits from external sources such as angel investors, who may provide entrepreneurs with capital to cover startup costs (or, later, expansion costs.) If you can demonstrate a high growth potential for your business, you can also turn to a venture capitalist, who offers capital in exchange for receiving equity in your company.

Many household-name businessmen exemplify entrepreneurial success. Here are just a few examples:

  • Steve Jobs, the late tech leader who started Apple in a garage and grew it to the dominant tablet, smartphone, and computer company it is today.
  • Bill Gates, the Microsoft creator and founder who has often been listed as the world’s wealthiest individual and has become a global leader on pandemics and how to handle them.

What motivates entrepreneurs to venture forth when so many others would run in the opposite direction? Though each person’s motivation is nuanced and unique, many entrepreneurs are spurred on by one or more of the following motivators:

  • Autonomy: Entrepreneurs want to be their own bosses, set their own goals, control their own progress, and run their businesses how they see fit. They recognize that their business’s success or failure rests with them, yet they don’t view this responsibility as a burden but, instead, as a marker of their freedom.
  • Purpose: Many entrepreneurs have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and will work tirelessly to make that happen. They genuinely believe they have a product or service that fills a void and are compelled by a single-minded commitment to that goal to keep pushing ahead. They abhor stagnation and would rather fail while moving forward than languish in inactivity.
  • Flexibility: Not everyone fits into the rigidity of traditional corporate culture. Entrepreneurs are often looking to free themselves from these constraints, find a better work-life balance, or work at times and in ways that may be unconventional. This doesn’t mean they are working fewer hours – often, especially in the early stages of growing a business, they work longer and harder – but, rather, they’re working in a way that is instinctual for them.
  • Financial success: Most entrepreneurs realize they aren’t going to be overnight billionaires, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in the potential of making a ton of money from a hugely successful business over which they have full control. Some want to establish a financial safety net for themselves and their families, while others are looking to make a huge profit by creating the next big thing.
  • Legacy: Entrepreneurs are often guided by a desire to create something that outlasts them. Others want to create a brand that has longevity and becomes an institution. Another group wants to pass on a source of income and security to their heirs. There are also those entrepreneurs who hope to make a lasting impression on the world and leave behind an innovation that improves people’s lives in some tangible way.

Are you interested in getting your start in entrepreneurship? Be sure to check out part 2 of this blog series, “25 Quotes from Entrepreneurs to Help You Get Your Idea off the Ground.

By Max Freedman. Paula Fernandes contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7275-entrepreneurship-defined.html

By Tara Malone
Tara Malone Assistant Director, Career Development, Stamford Campus Tara Malone