Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner?

I was the guest speaker at a class on Entrepreneurship at a local community college the other day. It got me thinking about the difference between an entrepreneur and a small business owner and what it takes to be either one.


First, neither one is better than the other. You can make (or lose) money in the stock market by investing in growth or value oriented stocks.  Same is true in business.

Entrepreneurs take risks (think growth stocks) – they are all about the upside, or appreciation.  They have vision and passion.  They think totally out-of-the-box and want to change the world, or at least part of it.  Be big, bet big, or go home.  Consider Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg – their businesses went from concept to multi-national firms in lightning speed.

Small business owners, on the other hand, are looking for stability (think value stocks).  Slow and steady is their motto, with measured growth initiatives which are often self-funded. They work hard, but their life is (hopefully) less chaotic. Small business owners may not be passionate about their work, but they are happy because they are not doing it for someone else.

While an entrepreneur may have more vision, passion and rule-breaking behavior than a small business owner, both are tenacious, have a tolerance of ambiguity, believe in themselves and are flexible.

Which are you?  Or perhaps, neither?