Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship. It’s trendy. It’s glamorous.
But what does it really mean to be an entrepreneur?
For the sake of being thorough, we will first look at the “academic” definition. However, to get a real-world understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur, we have asked 11 entrepreneurs from around the world what it means to them.
We also had a little bit of fun: we took their answers and created a “word cloud” so we can better visualize the words and concepts that they have employed to define entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.
The “Academic” Definition of Entrepreneurship
Professor Howard Stevenson, from Harvard Business School, the godfather of entrepreneurship studies, defines entrepreneurship as the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.
An entrepreneur, according to the Webster Dictionary, is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.
You get the idea. But you still don’t get the feeling.
Here’s a better definition from someone who walked the talk:
“Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.”
– Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
What Does It REALLY Mean to Be an Entrepreneur?
The entrepreneurs on this list come from different parts of the world (from the US to Europe to Asia) and are active in not less diverse areas (HR, digital, health, fintech, entertainment, art, design, etc.) but they all have something in common: a passion for their work.
It’s not all rosy, and it’s not all fun. It takes a lot of work, a lot of risks, tenacity, dedication, knowledge, belief, but it also gives them a lot of joy, hopes, pride, and dreams fulfilled.
We hope their answers will inspire you to start your own journey. Or to stick to it if you have already started.
Founder, Blue Ribbon Partners GmbH
Take risks, live with uncertainty, venture into new territories, make mistakes, learn and lead!
2. Will Jacobs
Founder, LeadToSuccess BV
Being an entrepreneur for me means:
– Belief in your product or service offering, combined with deep-rooted trust in one’s capabilities to demonstrate how clients benefit from it.
– Tremendous hard work, dedication and not being afraid to make mistakes and pivot when needed.
Being an entrepreneur means investing the money you earn in your own business instead of investing it in your personal life/need.
Founder, Les Enfants Terribles
Being an entrepreneur is a decision. It means taking over conscious responsibility – for your life. To be successful and to be happy.
To me, being an entrepreneur means looking for unmet needs or unrecognized opportunities and finding a way to serve them.
It means getting your hands dirty yourself but asking for help when you need it.
It means having so much passion for something that you are willing to try, fail, learn from your mistakes, and try again until you finally get it right.
It means being lonely at times; it means having to sometimes say no.
It means knowing your strengths and knowing your weaknesses.
It means being unable to sleep sometimes.
And, it means bursting with pride when you reach your goal.
For me, it means doing what I love. With passion.
Co-Founder, Skënderbeg Alternative Investments AG
What it really means to be an entrepreneur is this: it means to create an idea of your own, and to see that idea through until it becomes something that can stand on its own.
Being an entrepreneur means following a dream or passion or goal to its completion, and being the leader who got it there.
All in all, I think Robert Kiyosaki summarized it best: “Starting a business is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. In mid-air, the entrepreneur begins building a parachute and hopes it opens before hitting the ground.”
Being an entrepreneur was all about benchmarking our concept with experts, enhancing the communication and keeping the focus big time. Our concept is the best as it’s Ours, so better to get constructive feedbacks to fail fast. You need belief, will, and passion for changing things and mindset.
Don’t forget, no one really enquires to change ways or even to try alternative ideas.
My best supports have been family, long time relatives, previous business partners, friends. To date, we are extremely happy having survived 2 years already, the feeling of being independent, and ability to manage our time in order to create something from scratch bring a lot of self-recognition.
The difficult part is the execution, but definitely, it worths the hard work.
To conclude, I got a friend who told me once that being an entrepreneur it’s being a Builder, a Navigator, and an Agricultor altogether. You build your concept, you keep the focus and the cape, then you harvest all opportunities coming your way.
9. Bradley Mitton
Founder, Club Vivanova, and Mitton International Wines
An entrepreneur is a person who sees opportunities in business and life and takes the initiative to turn them into a financially or personally profitable venture.
There are always risks, which is why there are often failures but there are also successes when a skilled entrepreneur weighs up the risks and makes a calculated decision whether or not to proceed.
Entrepreneurs are not blasé, they are calculating business people, often working alone, who can see what others cannot and can often turn nothing special into something spectacular.
Nevertheless, from my experience, there is an inner-strength required that entrepreneurs require first of all to step out of their comfort zone and be ready to lose everything at any moment and secondly, to believe in themselves and what they are doing.
Founder, Continental Art Gallery
Being an entrepreneur is first of all to have projects and conviction for their realization!
Perspectives based on the future and tenacity in each of the projects by structuring each step in association with each partner or collaborator involved. All projections must be animated by important factors such as respect and honesty.
Here, in a few words, the representation of my work in the interior decoration, the design and the representation of my artists for the satisfaction of our clients.
Founder, Elite SA
The ability to realize our dreams and meet our values.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
If you want to learn more about entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur’s life:
Alexander Osterwalder – Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers