The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.
Are you one of them? There are numerous discussions on the definition of “entrepreneur”. We can all argue that entrepreneurs have existed since the beginning of time, when humans began forming systems of efficiency for gathering food and leveraging those unique capabilities for trade. Surely its function and essence has existed way before the 17th century when the French word “entrepreneur” was first coined into what it’s come to represent today.
Entrepreneurs share several basic attributes in common. We have big ideas and we execute our drive to put those ideas to life. Our friends and family often think we’re a little crazy, or maybe too passionate to a fault. And naturally, we share that striking attribute that altogether distastes the idea of being boxed into definitive roles, or traditional order. After all, we’re seekers of change, hustlers for opportunity, and challengers of status-quo.
Here, we’ve catalogued the different ways that authors, academicians, and business experts have named or defined the essence of businesspeople in the life of entrepreneurship. These categories don’t have to define you, nor pigeon-hole your capacity to enterprise.
What it does is offer you a sense of placement, a point of reference, and a jolt of reassurance in a journey that’s often been described to us as “lonesome”, “uncertain”, and “filled with fear of financial risk”. It also reveals the level of sophistication the market has reached, that it now begs for language to reflect the subtle distinctions inside the world of entrepreneurship.
So, what type of entrepreneur do you identify with most? Be proud and own it!
According to businessdictionary.com, a lifestyle entrepreneur is someone who creates a business with an explicit goal of capturing a preferred personal lifestyle, not so much for the sole purpose of making profits.
This lifestyle-design approach to entrepreneurship became widespread with the likes of Tim Ferris, author of “The Four-Hour Work Week” and Lewis Howes, former professional football player who created a massive digital business after a career-ending injury.
The definition goes further, “The lifestyle entrepreneur focuses more on the life rewards provided to people who enjoy and have a passion for what they are doing.” It’s about building your business around your lifestyle so you can support the lifestyle you desire. Picture doing your work from a hammock on a white-sand beach.
While social entrepreneurs have long existed, the language we use to ascribe to their work has only been developed in the last 20 years. The surge of social entrepreneurship began in response to inefficiencies and the sheer lack of impactful outcomes within governmental and other philantrophic programs.
According to, Duke University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department social entrepreneurs “combine the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination commonly associated with, for instance, the high-tech pioneers of Silicon Valley.”
Unlike business entrepreneurs whose value lies in wealth creation, social entrepreneurs derive their value explicitly from their social mission and the impact it creates for the social good, such as alleviating poverty, enhancing education, improving health, and other things that elevate well-being. This ultimately influences the way social entrepreneurs consider and tackle opportunities.
Muhammad Yunus, champion of microfinance lending institutions, and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient is synonymous with the concept of social entrepreneurship, and he helped catapult this discipline into popular consciousness.
Most web-based literature define “solopreneur” by comparing it against the more common definition of “entrepreneur”. While solopreneurs share the same driven mindset as “entrepreneurs”, solopreneurs obviously work “solo”. They develop, manage, and grow their business by themselves and they do so without the intent of employing others. They may contract certain tasks and projects out to freelancers, but they essentially run a one-person show. Coaches, artists, artisans, public speakers, authors, and consultants are some examples.
Solopreneurs seek a personal brand within the niche they’ve identified for themselves as creators and innovators in their own right. Solopreneurs network and create long-term relationships, but this is not their main function. They have the ability to make passive income and scale their business, but one main distinction, according to Forbes, is that solopreneurs focus on delivering the business, or operating in the business as workers, whereas entrepreneurs focus on leveraging the business for other strategic opportunities and delegate the “work” to company employees.
Freelancers, like entrepreneurs, are self-employed, but freelancers largely don’t take the same responsibility that entrepreneurs take in business development and profit creation. For the most part, freelancers accept work from companies without the commitment of a full-time contract. While freelancers may hold the same ambition on the type of pursuits they undertake, freelancers generally still report to a manager.
“Freelancing” may be the step, or the “side gig” that comes before fully diving into an entrepreneurial endeavor. Freelancers are independent and also exploit their skills and they find a fulfilling medium in this arrangement, at least for the time being, until they pursue their entrepreneurial path.
Creative entrepreneurs are first and foremost focused on creating, then exploiting the ability to make a business out of their “creative or intellectual capital”. Wikipedia offers a good jumping off point for defining creative entrepreneurship.
“Essentially, creative entrepreneurs are investors in talent – their own or other people’s.”
This means you are beyond “just” the artist, poet, dancer, singer, or writer. It means you are also the person who owns your own means of production. Therefore, any revenue you earn goes directly to you as profit -not through an agent or a manager. It means you make the decisions on what projects you undertake and the opportunities you exploit.
The Atlantic has a great article that talks about the paradigm change with how artists emerge, how they’re trained, and how they operate in this new era of business. Most MFAs or other art degrees now include entrepreneurship as a part of the curriculum. Infusing your art and creativity together with business can be an uneasy balance for the artist, but we now have the tools, the technology, the support of language, and the market that allows us to reclaim and reconnect to our whole, if we so choose. In creative entrepreneurship, you can be both; you can be all.
For impact entrepreneurs, building a business that makes money is just as central to making an impact in the world. They have a strong commitment to ethical values and often insist on building a business culture that promotes transparency, respects the environment, and is mindful of culture and society without ignoring the drive to maximize profits using their innovative product or process.
The impact entrepreneur takes on Joseph Schumpeter’s definition that entrepreneurs are agents of change to forge economic activity forward. Richard Branson has been attributed as an Impact Entrepreneur. Since the 1970s, he has sought to spread his message that “business” should be “a force for good.” If we were distinguishing a further segmentation, Richard Branson would be more accurately described as a High-Impact Entrepreneur. Can you guess why?
Challenges All Types of Entrepreneurs Face
Perhaps you’re in the stage of business where you haven’t fully donned your coat of entrepreneurship. So this would be your first step. Look in the mirror and repeat to yourself, “I am a social entrepreneur,” “I am a solopreneur.” “There is such a thing, and this is what I choose to spend my life’s focus on.”
Along the journey and despite our drive, creativity, and innovation, we all share the same challenges and battles. It all appears easy and luxurious on paper, but deep behind the business, we all share our bouts of loneliness and uncertainty.
We all get concerned about capturing clients and making our target profits. We become doubtful of our processes, and seek some sort of coaching or consulting. And because entrepreneurship embodies our life’s work and meaning, we inevitably desire and require deeper internal guidance.
Don’t fret. This is all part of the process. Embrace it.
We each identify with a certain type of entrepreneur. Owning and asserting your role through these definitions will help you find the right ways of seeking the necessary support. Don’t hesitate to seek refuge, advice, and support in a trusted group. Remember, you’re not alone.
We’re interested in learning more about you! Comment below, state the type of entrepreneur you identify with, and let us know what we’re missing.