What is an Entrepreneur?
By Lorena Schott | February 15, 2022
What makes someone an entrepreneur? Am I an entrepreneur? Are you an entrepreneur? Do I know any entrepreneurs?
The word “entrepreneur” seems to be thrown around everywhere, describing everyone, doing anything. It’s used to describe celebrities and business tycoons like Beyoncé, Elon Musk, and Jessica Alba. But your brother who keeps bringing up the idea of coffee-flavored toothpaste, might also make the list.
Entrepreneurs pop up in all types of industries and can have widely different backgrounds. Some build personal brands, while others work tirelessly on a physical product that they believe in. Really anyone can be an entrepreneur, given the idea and the right tools to develop it into a functional business.
Some people define entrepreneurship with words like “trailblazing, innovative, problem solving, passionate” and on and on. These may all be traits that entrepreneurs can strive for, but at its core, an entrepreneur is someone who sees a need and takes on the financial risk to start a business to fill that need. It may sound vague, but that’s the point; there is no cookie-cutter entrepreneur unless you start a business selling cookie cutters, in which case, yes, there is a cookie-cutter entrepreneur.
Your idea might take the form of a physical product in a physical store called a brick-and-mortar business, or instead of a tangible product, your venture might be a national empowerment network. Girl Boss New Zealand was founded by 20-year-old Alexia Hilbertidou after she was the only woman in her upper-level physics class. Her goal is encouraging high school aged women to pursue STEM and leadership careers.
For a while, the classic story of an entrepreneur was someone who created one business that became a long-term project like opening a new restaurant or founding a tech start-up to make flashy phone games, but that is not the whole picture anymore. There has been a shift in the global job market that has opened the door for entrepreneurship to become more mainstream.
A more traditional career path may be joining an accounting firm right after college and working 9-5, Monday through Friday until you retire. Some people might feel fulfilled with that kind of steady employment, and the stability that comes from being a salaried employee with health insurance can be incredibly valuable. Others, like entrepreneurs, might itch for more independence. So, another option might be to consult for a network of women small business owners on their day-to-day accounting, create vlogs with tax software tips, or sell unicorn hats on Etsy made with the softest fabric there is. On the plus side, this allows workers to build robust portfolios of work and find fulfilling opportunities.
Having several income streams can also provide a stronger sense of income security than one full-time job. Even if you lose one, you’re still making money. Today’s entrepreneurs are independent thinkers who are comfortable developing their own diverse income streams, marketing themselves and connecting with others with help from WESST along the way.
It’s not all blue skies and rainbows. Entrepreneurship is not easy. Taking a financial gamble is stressful and so is working long hours to try to get a project off the ground. Often the lack of structured work time often means a small business has no off time and if you are not careful you can work around the clock and get very exhausted. Despite the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur, tons of people take the leap to start a new business and stick with it through the ups and the downs.
So, what exactly keeps entrepreneurs motivated through those downs? At the top of the list is: Freedom – entrepreneurs get to be their own bosses. This can mean setting your own hours and deciding on your dress code or lack thereof. Maybe you want to work from home or while traveling, writing emails by the pool (although that might be a little unrealistic, but you get the idea). It can mean defining your own destiny for traditionally underrepresented groups in business like women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. You can create an inclusive company culture and work environment, rather than feeling stuck in an uncomfortable situation with a boss or coworker.
Entrepreneurial lore is full of rags-to-riches tales, where people pitch the next Snapchat and are launched into the business stratosphere. Sure, this is the stuff of inspirational posters and not everyone can make it big, but entrepreneurship does create a culture of opportunity that might work for some non-traditional workers. Of course, every entrepreneur with massive success has also had hundreds of failures. Stumbling is perfectly fine if we learn as we go. But to identify and learn from failures, every entrepreneur must ask themselves: what does success look like to me? Is it earning $30,000 a year in your food truck? Is it selling your idea for a million dollars? Is it becoming the CEO of a mid-size media production company and writing novels on the side? Or is it owning six cats and producing your own films? Whatever success is, it’s entirely up to you.
Of course, no one wants to fail, but together with WESST you can learn how to redefine failure and pick up the pieces if it’s truly unavoidable. It’s not that successful entrepreneurs never faced failure. It’s that they didn’t quit.
So, the bottom line is anyone can be an entrepreneur with a little grit, determination, luck and help from WESST. To inquire about business consulting, visit the WESST website and complete the Request for Consulting.
About the Author
Lorena Schott is a native New Mexican that brings a wealth of experience to the WESST team. Before joining WESST in 2009, she worked for Intel where she was acknowledged for her establishment of Intel’s centralized on-line system, rewarding and recognizing employees worldwide.