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What is an entrepreneur? (And when to call yourself one)

4-minute read

What is an entrepreneur?
Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish

1 August 2023

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Business owner or entrepreneur? Forget about naming your company, choosing what to call yourself is the latest struggle for the self-employed.

But is there a difference between the two terms? Keep reading our guide to see if you should call yourself an entrepreneur.

What is the definition of an entrepreneur?

There isn’t one standard definition of an entrepreneur. Some people believe that anyone who’s started their own business or works for themselves is an entrepreneur – whereas some argue that to truly be an entrepreneur, you need to have demonstrated a level of innovation.

So while some think that entrepreneurship symbolises leadership and invention, others think that just striking out on your own and working for yourself is enough to adopt the title.

When you hear the word entrepreneur, it’s often followed by the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos. But anyone can be an entrepreneur. All it takes is drive, ambition, and a true passion for what you do.

What is an entrepreneur in business?

You might have been told that entrepreneurs need to have invented something groundbreaking, but you don’t have to be an inventor or scientist to be called an entrepreneur. No matter your business, if you consider yourself an entrepreneur, you can be one.

All those big names we mentioned earlier started as small business owners – and now own some of the most successful businesses in the world. However, their success isn’t what makes them entrepreneurs, but the drive and passion that led them to start their businesses to begin with.

While you may not be like Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994 and is now one of the wealthiest people in the world, if you’ve taken the leap to start your own business, you can call yourself an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs can be sole traders working from home – running an online business or a home-run bakery. You can have just opened your first brick and mortar shop on the high street, or even run your own plumbing business in your local area.

Not all entrepreneurs are small business owners, but all small business owners are entrepreneurs.

Why is entrepreneurship important?

Entrepreneurship is important because it’s a major factor in growing the economy. Customer needs are constantly changing, so driven entrepreneurs are needed to keep up with (and shape) consumer demands.

Our SME Insights report for 2023 shows that small businesses make up 99% of all UK businesses. Small businesses themselves contribute an estimated £2 trillion a year to the economy.

As new businesses grow, they also create opportunities for more work – further growing the economy. Business-savvy entrepreneurs hire other employees to further build their empire.

Read more about hiring employees and developing a recruitment process here.

What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur?

Whilst there’s no checklist for what makes a successful entrepreneur, there are a few common characteristics that they tend to share.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, here’s some of the traits that’ll help you succeed:

  • leadership: even if you’re working for yourself as a sole trader, leadership skills are important for any budding entrepreneur. You’ll be working with suppliers, traders, and more, and will need to clearly direct them to reach your goals
  • teamwork: coincidentally, if your company grows and you take on employees, any good entrepreneur will need to know how to work in a team to see the best results
  • communication: as an entrepreneur, your work is your vision. You’ll need to explain this clearly to anyone you work with – so written and verbal communication skills are a must
  • business: of course, no matter your trade or industry, a good working knowledge of business practices can help you succeed in a competitive field
  • problem solving: you may hit hurdles when you start a new business, and as a leader and entrepreneur, your team will look to you to solve any issues
  • drive: running your own business takes a lot of drive to succeed – you may need to work long hours whilst your business is still up and coming
  • confidence: if you’re going to start a business – and have it succeed – you’ll need the confidence to pitch to investors, sell to customers, and more
  • passion: probably the most important skill to any entrepreneur is a true passion for what you do – something that can make those long days a bit more enjoyable

Looking for more guidance? Discover the habits of successful people here.

How to become an entrepreneur – investing in your business

As well as the skills above, one thing that helps all entrepreneurs is a cash boost. Using your business savvy and problem-solving abilities, this is a great way to grow your business outside of your regular cash flow. One way to get a cash boost in your business is through applying for a business grant.

Each year, Simply Business offers a £25,000 business grant to one entrepreneur who enters our Business Boost competition. Applications will soon open for 2023 entries, making it a great time for budding entrepreneurs to get involved.

Previous winner of Business Boost Sarah Jordan, founder of Y.O.U underwear, says: “Collaboration is the key to achieving huge change – whether it's opening a door, making connections, offering expertise, or even financial support. It really can make a huge difference to a small business. Business Boost was a game changer for us at a time when we really needed a leg up.”

Famous entrepreneurs

If you’re still looking for entrepreneurial inspiration, these famous entrepreneurs may help inspire you:

  • Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
  • Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
  • Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
  • Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal and Girlboss Media
  • Alan Sugar, The Apprentice
  • Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post
  • Vera Wang, fashion designer and founder of Vera Wang
  • James Dyson, creator of Dyson vacuum cleaners
  • Cher Wang, founder of HTC

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Let us know what the term means to you in the comments below.

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Photo: Anela R/
Rosanna Parrish

Written by

Rosanna Parrish

​​Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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