Are You an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner?

By on February 4, 2013
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I’ve worked with small business owners and entrepreneurs for over 20 years. In that time, I regularly interchange the words “small business owner” and “entrepreneur” when describing the owner/partner of a company with less than 100 employees.

However, they really are different people…very different. If you have a company with less than 100 employees, it’s imperative that you understand the difference. Not knowing what kind of owner you are can mean the difference between success and failure.

Who is a Small Business Owner?

I define a small business owner as someone who enjoys being in control of their own destiny. They don’t fit in well in corporate America and appreciate the flexibility of being their own boss. There are different kinds of small business owners too–Main Street Retailers, Home-Based Businesses, Service Professionals (e.g. Roofers, Electricians, Doctors, Lawyers) are a few examples of small businesses, most of whom have less than 100 employees. A common thread among them is that growing their businesses is not a critical part of their plan. They like the lifestyle that comes with running their company. They’re not looking to open a second location, enter new markets or double the size of their sales force in the next 12 months. They also see most purchases as expenses not investments.

Who is an Entrepreneur?

Transversely, an entrepreneur is driven by growth. They aspire to take their companies to the next level every year. Their plan centers on providing a product or service that fills a void, capitalizing on the opportunity to enter new markets, open new locations and introduce new products. They typically see purchases as investments for growing their company.

As an owner of one of these types of companies, it is critical for you to know whether you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner. I’ve witnessed small business owners acquire their competitors to gain market share and increase the size of their footprint. Unfortunately, many of these owners didn’t put themselves in the proper position to deal with the responsibilities of running a larger company…and both businesses wound up failing.

I’ve also seen entrepreneurs suddenly decide that they wanted to be small business owners. Unfortunately, the wheels were already in motion to grow their companies. When their expansion plans came to a halt, it proved to be very costly to the companies.

It’s tough enough these days to run a successful business regardless of what type of company you run. Take the time to figure out what type of business owner you are so that you improve your chances of surviving…and thriving…in today’s business world.

More Articles: You may also want to read our interview on this topic with Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as @SmallBizLady

About Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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