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Jamie Forster

Nice read Marc and thanks.

I have for a long time thought that, thanks to such entertainment programmes (note not business programmes) as The Apprentice and Dragons Den, the word entrepreneur has been bandied about too freely and it seems that anyone who sets up a business these days is an entrepreneur.

I don't know what it is in the last decade that makes people setting up businesses different to previous generations insofar as the term entrepreneur is more applicable (or not as the case may be) to them.

I don't know what the definitive answer is to your question. all I know is that having started several successful businesses, I don't think of myself as an entrepreneur but as a man in business......

Do I need a title to get me up in the morning to do what I love? You can call me whatever you like, I'll still be doing it.

All the best



Interesting post thanks! I was part of some of the discussion online about this.
Leadership and Entrepreneurism are two different traits/skills/set of behaviours and I'd argue that what is key for one is the opposite for another. In my opinion great entrepreneurs have very strong self belief and egos. Great leaders have self belief. True leadership is about other people. I know plenty of entrepreneurs who have made successful businesses but I wouldn't follow them.

And yes, there are a few great leaders and entrepreneurs but I can count them on the fingers of one hand.

Great leaders, like great entrepreneurs, know their own strengths and weaknesses and bring in the best people to complete the skills required.

Sarah Olney

A very good thought provoking read, thank you. My understanding of an entrepreneur is someone who thinks up the idea and takes the risk with the money, the buck stops with them. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates are such examples. Mavericks all. Military strategists of note are generally excellent leaders, although within a strict code of rules (hierarchical). Sir Alex Ferguson is a private sector example of a great leader, able to inspire and motivate to get the best out of people. This does not make them entrepreneurs. Although the leaders of Virgin, Apple and Microsoft may now have become institutions, a lot of the brand personality of the first two is invested in its success - although Microsoft now would survive without Bill Gates. As Einstein once said, it's not that his light bulb invention failed the first 99 times, it's just that the 100th time worked and that's what makes for an entrepreneur the unfailing belief, in the face of extreme risk, without any back-up, that they will win through in the end.

Sarah Olney

Sorry that should read Edison - got distracted while typing.

The Business GP

Thanks so much for the comments. The debate really does rage. The beauty of the English language. I have looked for a common definition of Entrepreneur & Collins, Oxford, Cambridge, & Websters can't agree. If those great minds cannot agree on what an entrepreneur is then maybe we will always struggle. Love the points of view as always.

Claire Boyles

I'm glad you've written a blog post about it, to encourage more discussion on the subject.

But really I think your definition of Entrepreneur is what needs clarification;

the definition of entrepreneur as I know it is:
"a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit"

It seems to me that often when you are talking about "Entrepreneurs" you are talking about what I would define as "Leaders".
While entrepreneurs are, by definition leaders- they START new businesses, and have teams working FOR them.
NOT all leaders ARE entrepreneurs.

Claire Boyles

Dictionary Definitions of Entrepreneur:

Oxford: a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit

Cambridge: someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity

Websters: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise

Collins: the owner of a business who attempts to make money by risk and initiative

Using none of those definitions could I possibly agree a General is an Entrepreneur..


Hi Marc,

I know you are particularly well educated, so, I will play to your stentgths and give you some fuel for the fire.

Risking at least two of Land, Labour, or Capital for greater gain. To qualify, you must put two of these up in the fight.

Well, a good entrepreneur will employ whoever he needs to minimise the risk.

There is a danger that on these networks where people self-profile themselves, thus describing themselves as 'entrepreneur', fail to understand the basic definition of what an entrepreneur is.

It's good to see you posing the question and challenging views, but Leaders and Entrepreneurs may cross over a little, but a certainly not the same. Entrepreneurship (traits of an Entrepreneur) and Entrepreurialism are adopted and stuided, but this has no bearing on whether someone is putting things at risking.

On the subject of asset, naturally, you have to own asset to risk it. Morgaged property, loan, is the banks asset, not your own... so that counts out endless numbers who say "I risked X", when in fact they risked the Banks asset.

A never ending discussion that will be great to read as it develops.

The Business GP

Some great comments, so thank you. A fantastic debate that will rage as I am pretty sure the meaning, and possibly more importantly, the use, of the word has changed over time. It's original definition was 'one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour'.

Philip Hughes - Iceexpert

Marc, An interesting read and subsequent comments. I'm generally in agreement that Military leaders, Successful Football or Sports Managers do not fall into the 'entrepreneur' description or category, unless they become successful in some way in a business perspective. They take risks, face the consequences and responsibilities, however, these generally don't fit the broad definitions of entrepreneur. I agree that the word has been banded around too casually by recent TV programmes and to a degree by politicians, most of whom I don't think understand the concept or definition. Why Lord Young was selected in the specialist role that he subsequently resigned from, to cultivate entrepreneur culture and small business was beyond belief, a sad indication that current senior politicians really don't get it either, I personally happen to think that whilst successful, Lord Sugar is not the next best 'Entrepreneurial Czar' or guru - How many good managers/entrepreneurs have ever pointed a finger and said 'you're fired'. OK, that's entertainment!

Dragon's Den, self promotion for the judges?, I follow some of them, am bemused by some of the applicants and entertained, it isn't a business programme. The word entrepreneur again used loosely, whilst to be fair, encouraging a 'small busines start up' mentality, a 'develop your ideas' mentality, a 'take a risk' mentality, I suppose it does encompass several elements of being an entrepreneur, whilst making light of the poor applicants, selected by tv producers, not business people.

My personal definition, maybe through experience extends beyond the taking a risk with money, labour and creation of a new business from a good idea. It is an ethic, a commitment and self belief, with a humility, not arrogance, but more a strength. When not successful (as in my case on several projects) the ability to get up learn, never 'fail' and move forwards with a unique strength gained from this experience. Managers can of course go through similar experiences, however, our own risk, our own 'live or die' effort and commitment are something I have experienced and discussed when talking to other small business people. My overwhelming feeling is also that the passion and self belief overcome huge number of obstacles, with tenacity and some would call it 'chutzpah', that make the difference to leading as an entrepreneur or small business person.

We (small business people/triers/entrepreneurs) all admire and respect each other, there is a mutual respect and code, because the hard work ethic is 'common', the 'work first, play later' concept is usually what we have all applied at some stage, if not always.

Branson, I would see as an entrepreneur, originally,undeniably, although his major success and status came from entrepreneurial roots, he has become an icon of what can happen if you grow out of a small business. He personally still gets involved in supporting and investing in start ups or 'good ideas' with risk under the Virgin banner. Is Julian Metcalfe an entrepreneur? yes in my opinion, although again, like the Innocent boys, grown the business to a level that actually, I think most entrepreneurs want to get to, but is a very different world. These guys and an entrepreneurial attitude may still assist with their businesses, but they have had to change, become business leaders, with structured management teams. When employing thousands it is very different from 10 or even 50. Huge respect for them all and perhaps where we all as small businessman/women aim to get to.

Marc, great question, thank you, I really think it comes down to taking the risk,self belief, passion and a positive attitude that continues to give drive; one other thing, they all enjoy what they do, the satisfaction, even when things are very tough is almost unique, may be like hitting a century or scoring a hattrick if you were a leading sportsman, in a game that you may not always win?

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