Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur: Which One Are You?Journalists tend to use the terms “small business owner” and “entrepreneur” interchangeably. It’s hard to blame them—the two words do refer to persons who own and run their own enterprises. But the terms are different, and the distinction between them is an important one.
Both small business owners and entrepreneurs seek success, but they use different metrics to define it. Entrepreneurs bet on unique ideas, often by taking financial risks. Their success lies in channeling their passion for innovation into original business ventures. Small business owners, on the other hand, look for greater stability in their investments. For them, business is about creating a livelihood.
Entrepreneurs are dynamic. They thrive on innovation. Entrepreneurs want to change the world, though not necessarily in an “end world hunger and eradicate poverty” kind of way. Though there are plenty of entrepreneurs who want to solve society’s biggest problems (and goodness knows we need more of them), what truly defines the entrepreneurial spirit is the desire to leave an aspect of the world better than it was when they found it.
Entrepreneurs are constantly pushing to improve their businesses, always striving to advance their ventures and facilitate progress in the industries in which they work. Caught up in their own zeal, entrepreneurs sometimes pursue passion over profit, and it can be to their detriment. Talk to any entrepreneur, and he or she will name a slew of failed ideas that came before “the big one.” But finding that big idea offers a high like nothing else does. That’s while you’ll find serial entrepreneurs—the ones who are constantly creating new businesses, developing them, and selling them so they can move on to the next big thing.
The small business owner is a different animal. Sometimes small business owners start out as entrepreneurs. Raring at the bit, ready to tackle whatever obstacle comes in the way of their success. But they’re called small business owners for a reason. They tend to think a bit smaller than entrepreneurs do. Once they’ve hit a certain point in their business trajectories, they prefer to stay where they are instead of moving forward. Of course, this isn’t to say that they aren’t interested in developing their businesses. Rather, they’re simply unwilling to sacrifice quality for the sake of expansion. Their focus is simply on offering the best possible goods and services in the hopes of turning a profit. Ideological and technological advancements certainly contribute to the success of small businesses, but sometimes, it’s best to do what you know and do it well.
Based on these two definitions of entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s easy to glamorize the role of the entrepreneur in society. Entrepreneurs are energetic, excited by new ideas. But small business owners can feel this way too—indeed, nearly all of them start out as passion-driven entrepreneurs.
There’s a place for entrepreneurs in society. Their role is to drive progress and innovation in all industries, propelling society forward. But there’s a place for small business owners, too. Small business owners drive the economy. Everyday, their businesses—capitalizing on the new ideas put forth by entrepreneurs—create stable jobs for people everywhere. Entrepreneurs and small business owners: there’s room in this world for both.
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