What Is An Entrepreneur ?

So, What Is An Entrepreneur ?


Let’s examine some definitions first:

en·tre·pre·neur ˌäntrəprəˈnər /noun
noun: entrepreneur;  plural noun: entrepreneurs
1. a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
2. the person starting a business or other organization, develops a business model, acquires the human and other required resources, and is fully responsible for its success or failure.
3. Harvard Business School Professor Howard Stevenson: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
4. The Economist: “There are two distinctive views. The first is the popular view: that entrepreneurs are people who run their own companies, the self-employed or small-business people. The second is Joseph Schumpeter’s view that entrepreneurs are innovators: people who come up with ideas and embody those ideas in high-growth companies.”
5. Investopedia: “An individual who, rather than working as an employee, runs a small business and assumes all the risk and reward of a given business venture, idea, or good or service offered for sale. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as a business leader and innovator of new ideas and business processes.”
6.Definition According to the SBA,
An entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of profit. An entrepreneur: Sees an opportunity. Makes a plan. Starts the business. Manages the business. Receives the profits.

So we notice there’s some divergence in views. There’s some romanticisation of the term, to the extent that some want to grant the title only to successful innovator, even-though there’s successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs.

Who is an Entrepreneur and who is not?

Many have raised questions, regarding who can be and who can’t be considered an entrepreneur, here are some:

  • Every owner of a business, small or big, is an entrepreneur ?
  • Everyone who starts his or her own business is an entrepreneur ?
  • Everyone who works for him- or herself is an entrepreneur?

Answering these questions might give us an insight on the real meaning of “entrepreneurship”,
1. Every owner of a business, is a business owner. If the business was created from scratch by this person, then definitely this person is an entrepreneur. If the business was transmitted or inherited then the person is not an entrepreneur.
2. People who start their own business are entrepreneurs, see semantic reasons below.
3. A person who works for him/herself is called a freelancer, unless he is working under the name of his company, in that case it’s entrepreneurship.


Semantic meaning and origin of the word

I would like to focus on the semantic of the word “entrepreneur”, It came to my attention that it may not be as frequently understood in the English language as it is in French.

Entrepreneur is a common word in English, but it often used as an elegant synonym to business man. Meanwhile in French the same exact word, with the same exact pronunciation is considered as a basic vocab, and holds no synonyms; If you want to say businessman in french you have to say entrepreneur, you have no other choice.

The word entrepreneur derived from the french verb “entreprendre” which mean to undertake a project, that’s why any kind of business men or women, who create a business, are called entrepreneurs, because they are undertaking new projects.

In french, we add often the ending “eur” to verbs, making them a noun of a person specialized in this action or invested in the action (verb). Thus entreprendre => entreprend’re’ => entreprendeur => entrepreneur.

ex: bâtisseur, constructeur, créateur, fondateur, ingénieur, maçon, promoteur …

The Real Meaning of Entrepreneur:

From the above section, we understand that in french adding eur to entreprendre, means that Entrepreneur is someone who became expert in the process of “entreprendre” undertaking projects. That means that no only he is successful in 1 but he in several projects/companies.

Thus the real meaning might be even more selective than the answers in the second section. According to the semantic logic, the real definition of Entrepreneur is what we call these days as “Serial Entrepreneur“.

Entrepreneur global reach:

So as you have guessed by now, the word entrepreneur is actually a French word not an English word, but it was borrowed by the English language , as it happens often between languages.

But the adoption of the word is not limited to English, the word was successfully adopted worldwide. Each month half a million search for the word “entrepreneur” is done, approximately half of these searches come from English speaking countries like the UK, US, Australia, India, etc, But the other half comes from all over the world.

The search is high in English speaking countries simply because the word is of foreign origin, and have some prestige associated to it. In French speaking countries, the use of the term is much more frequent, even though the search volume does not reflect that. But because the word is well understood in French, looking it up online would be like looking up the term potato (what is the percentage of people that look up the word potato).

But to have a half a million monthly search, means that the word is used at least 20 to 100 times more, that means the word is used more than 50 million times every single month.

From a French language side, a normal person would encounter the word entrepreneur at least once to twice per month. With 75 million native French speaker, and 340 million French speaker, the word “entrepreneur”, is with no doubt, used at least 100 million times each month, and that in French countries alone.

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Abdallah Alaili

I'm a serial entrepreneur (mostly tech) and micro-investor (tiny), this is a blog to learn from other entrepreneurs and spread the wisdom to many more. You can find me on: Instagram - Twitter - Linkedin - more about me