While the definition of entrepreneurship has stayed constant for decades, the possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs sure have come a long way.
Think about it: 100 years ago, what options did an entrepreneur have? If you didn’t have the skill to make something or the capital to buy wholesale products to resell, you were out of luck.
Fast forward to the 2024—there are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. And there’s a simple reason behind this growth in entrepreneurship: the opportunities have exploded.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be an entrepreneur. You’ll also hear from some modern-day online entrepreneurs who explain how they took the leap and how you can follow suit.
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What is entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is the act of creating a business or businesses while bearing all the risks with the hope of making a profit.
But as a basic definition, that one is a bit limiting. The more modern entrepreneurship definition is also about transforming the world by solving big problems like bringing about social change or creating an innovative product that challenges the status quo of how we live our lives on a daily basis.
Entrepreneurship is what people do to take their career into their hands and lead it in the direction they want.
It’s about building a life on your own terms. No bosses. No restricting schedules. And no one holding you back. Entrepreneurs are able to take the first step into making the world a better place—for everyone in it, including themselves.
Importance of entrepreneurship
Why is entrepreneurship so important? Let’s look at a few of the top reasons.
- Entrepreneurs create jobs: Without entrepreneurs, jobs wouldn’t exist. Entrepreneurs take on the risk of employing themselves. Their ambition to grow their business eventually leads to the creation of new jobs. As their business continues to grow, even more jobs are created.
- Entrepreneurs innovate: Some of the greatest technologies in today’s society have come from businesses. Technological advances come from a need to solve problems, create efficiencies, or improve the world. In periods where there’s more advancement in technology, there’s usually an entrepreneur to thank for it.
- Entrepreneurs create change: Entrepreneurs dream big—many aim to make the world better with their products, ideas, or businesses. So naturally, some of their ideas will make a worldwide change. They might create a new product that solves a burning problem or takes on the challenge of exploring something never explored before.
- Entrepreneurs give to society: While some have a notion of the rich being evil and greedy, they often do more for the greater good than the average person. They make more money and thus pay more taxes, which helps fund social services. Entrepreneurs are some of the biggest donors to charities and nonprofits for various causes. Some seek to invest their money in creating solutions to help poorer communities have access to things we take for granted, like clean drinking water and good health care.
- Entrepreneurs add to national income: Entrepreneurship generates new wealth in an economy. New ideas and improved products or services from entrepreneurs allow for the growth of new markets and new wealth.
What is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business with the aim to make a profit.
This entrepreneur definition is a bit vague, but for good reason. An entrepreneur can be a person who has a home business idea and sets up their first online store on the side, or a freelancer just starting out.
The reason why they’re considered entrepreneurs—though some disagree—is because where you start out isn’t necessarily where you’ll end up.
But if your entrepreneurial mindset is focused on creating a profitable business, you fit the entrepreneur definition.
Entrepreneurs are some of the world’s most powerful transformers. From Elon Musk sending people to Mars to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs making computers part of every household, entrepreneurs imagine the world differently.
Entrepreneurs see possibilities and solutions where the average person sees only annoyances and problems.
Understanding what an entrepreneur is can help more people recognize the value they can—and already—contribute to the world.
Common traits for entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs have certain characteristics that set them apart from other individuals. The majority of people who pursue entrepreneurship:
- Think creatively
- Enjoy freedom and flexibility
- Understand basic finance principles
- Are ambitious and goal oriented
- Take self initiative
- Are problem solvers
Why do people become entrepreneurs?
Every entrepreneur has their own “why” that drove them into being their own boss. Whether entrepreneurs need more freedom or to make an impact, they all take control of their lives by living on their own terms.
Here are a few of the reasons why people become entrepreneurs:
- To change the world: Many entrepreneurs strive to make the world better. Whether entrepreneurs believe in space exploration, eliminating poverty, or creating a practical but game-changing product, they ultimately build a brand in the service of others. Some entrepreneurs use their business as a way to raise capital quickly to funnel into their noble causes.
- They don’t want a boss: Entrepreneurs often struggle with having a boss. They might feel suffocated and held back. Some entrepreneurs may feel they have a more effective way of doing things. Others may dislike the lack of creative freedom. Ultimately, they become attracted to entrepreneurship to succeed on their own terms. Check out 10 Obvious Signs You Should Be Working for Yourself.
- They want flexible hours: Entrepreneurship is popular with those who need flexible hours. For example, many people with disabilities enjoy entrepreneurship, allowing them to work when they can. Parents can raise their children at home or pick them up from school without feeling guilty. Students get the flexibility to work around their demanding schedules and courseloads.
- They want to work from anywhere: Along with flexibility in working hours, entrepreneurship is popular among those who don’t want to be tied down to a specific location. Entrepreneurs might not want to work from the same place every day, as this can get boring fast.
- They can’t get a job: Many find a path into entrepreneurship when they can’t get a job. Instead of being defeated by the situation, they create new opportunities for themselves. New graduates might start an online store the summer after graduation to gain some practical experience. A parent laid off in the coronavirus economy might start a business to ensure they can continue feeding their family while keeping a roof over their heads.
- They don’t fit into the corporate environment: Entrepreneurs often say that stuffy corporate environments restrict their growth. You can spot an entrepreneur in a corporate environment as they usually try to gain more control in their role and better understand how everything fits together.
- They’re curious: Entrepreneurs love finding out the answer to the question, “What will happen if …” They’re experimental and love learning. They regularly read business books to advance their knowledge. So naturally, entrepreneurship appeals to them because pursuing it allows them to learn the most in the shortest amount of time. Their curiosity allows their continued growth.
- They’re ambitious: Those who love reaching difficult goals and milestones are made to be entrepreneurs. Since there’s no limit to what they can achieve, entrepreneurs constantly find their projects growing bigger and better than they ever imagined. When obstacles come up, they find a workaround to their goal. They’re unstoppable.
How can I be a successful entrepreneur?
Let’s take a look at the top tips shared by startup entrepreneurs, and how you can use these tips to become successful.
Dez Stephens of Radiant Health Institute shares, “The one piece of advice I’d give someone who wants to be an entrepreneur is to start your business with no debt and no overhead. That’s how I started my company six years ago, and it greatly increased my inevitable success.”
Keval Baxi of Codal Inc. says, “One piece of advice that I’d give to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur is to be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
“Leaders and managers that don’t follow through fail to gain the respect of their team and don’t encourage accountability. Make sure your team knows you’ll be there when you’re needed.”
Chrys Tan of Mindfuel Community says, “The one piece of advice that I would give to an entrepreneur would be to embrace failure. Failure is guaranteed when you are an entrepreneur, whether it is the failure to meet a number of targeted sales or even the failure of a business.
“But if you know that experiencing failure is guaranteed when running a business, you wouldn’t fear failure but embrace failure instead. When you embrace failure, you take on more risks, and you move past failures faster as well.”
Examples of Entrepreneurs
Let’s take a look at some examples of entrepreneurs.
Walter Elias Disney became one of the most well-known names in the world. You know him from the Walt Disney Company and theme parks like Disneyland and Walt Disney World. His brand started with Mickey Mouse and eventually expanded to include thousands of characters and whimsical fantasy worlds.
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He faced challenges like loads of commercial failures, but he kept pushing through and stayed committed to his vision.
Mark Zuckerberg created several products before building Facebook. He created an instant messaging tool that his father used in his dentistry practice to communicate with his receptionist.
Zuckerberg also created music software that Microsoft and AOL were interested in buying, even though he was only a teenager. Within a year of Facebook’s founding, it already had one million users. Today, Mark Zuckerberg has a net worth of $65.7 billion.
Sara Blakely first started the Spanx brand in 1998. She was one of the first creators of women’s leggings. Her brand specializes in shapewear and includes items like bras, panties, and hosiery.
She’s also the inventor of arm tights, which allow women to wear their summer clothing year-round. At one point, Blakely was the youngest self-made female billionaire.
Entrepreneurship ideas for 2023
As a startup entrepreneur, there are so many ideas you can pursue depending on the business skills you already have and what you’re willing to learn. Here are a handful of business ideas to get you started:
- Ecommerce store owner
- Freelancer (write a blog, accountant, designer)
- Teaching (online courses, author)
- App creator (chatbots, social media apps)
- Service-based business (food delivery, cleaning, dog walking)
- Consultant-based business (wedding planner, life coach)
- Apartment rentals (Airbnb)
- Marketing businesses (influencer marketing, SEO brands, PR firms)
- Affiliate marketing (Amazon Affiliate, Clickbank, etc.)
- Blogger (Product reviews, niche blog, magazine)
- Vlogger (start a YouTube channel, Twitch)
- Flipper (domain name, website, house)
- Gig economy (driver, Fiverr)
- Real estate agent (condos, houses, commercial)
- Photographer (product photography, sell photos)
- Stock Broker (buying and selling stocks)
- Website flipper
- Reseller business
How real entrepreneurs define entrepreneurship
Let’s take a look at what real entrepreneurs have to say about the meaning of entrepreneurship, and what it means to them on a personal level.
Founder and CEO of NeuroFlow Christopher Molaro says, “Entrepreneurship means being the one who is willing to take a leap and work hard enough to sacrifice everything else around them, all in the name of solving problems, because no one else is capable or possesses the desire.”
The meaning of entrepreneurship is slightly different for Jolijt Tamanaha, VP of Growth at Fresh Prints, who shares, “Entrepreneurs make their way down a never-ending list of problems with grit, passion, and energy. While intense, being an entrepreneur means you get to live life learning an incredible amount and maximize your impact on the world because you have to tackle the hardest problems.”
Here’s how Nicole Faith, Founder of 10 Carat Creations, breaks it down: “Being an entrepreneur means having a plan and vision but still succeeding or trying to succeed when the plan falls apart and you’re left with only your vision. It also means knowing when to give up, especially if your idea isn’t working due to external forces.”
According to James Sandoval, Founder, and CEO of Measure Match: “Being an entrepreneur means diving headlong into a [likely very risky] venture of your own making, working hard, long hours, often alone, to carve out a path to success and never, ever giving up.”
Entrepreneurship quotes for inspiration
Need some inspiration? Here are some popular entrepreneur quotes to keep you lit up and ready to go.
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” —Peter Drucker
“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” —Niccolo Machiavelli
“From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better.” —Richard Branson
“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.” —Naveen Jain
“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” —Reid Hoffman
“The number one reason why people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors.” —Napoleon Hill
“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” —Scott Belsky
“There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” —Phil Libin
“Being an entrepreneur is a mindset. You have to see things as opportunities all the time. I like to do interviews. I like to push people on certain topics. I like to dig into the stories where there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.” —Soledad O’Brien
For more quotes about entrepreneurship, check out our post of best motivational quotes for entrepreneurs.
Are you ready to be an entrepreneur?
There’s no single right way to be an entrepreneur. These people come in all shapes and sizes and can influence virtually any aspect of life as we know it.
In a sphere with so much diversity, there are a few things that all entrepreneurs have in common: they’re full of passion and ambition, and they use these as a driving force to build empires that solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
If you’re looking to make your mark on the world or advance society—or even break free from the exhausting and inflexible 9-to-5 job, you just might be an entrepreneur in the making.
Trust your gut, follow your instincts, and always keep your mind open to learning and exploring new opportunities that come your way.
What is entrepreneurship FAQ
What is the meaning of entrepreneurship?
The meaning of entrepreneurship involves an entrepreneur who takes action to make a change in the world. Whether startup entrepreneurs solve a problem that many struggle with each day, bring people together in a way no one has before, or build something revolutionary that advances society, they all have one thing in common: action.
It’s not some idea that’s stuck in your head. Entrepreneurs take the idea and execute it. Entrepreneurship is about the execution of ideas.
What are the different types of entrepreneurship?
- Small-business entrepreneurship
- Hustler entrepreneurship
- Large company entrepreneurship
- Researcher entrepreneurship
- Innovative entrepreneurship
- Scalable startup entrepreneurship
- Social entrepreneurship
What is the entrepreneurial mindset?
The entrepreneurial mindset is a person’s attitude to building an independent business. It means having an open mind and questioning everything in the hopes of creating something unique and innovative.
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