What exactly is an entrepreneur? In short, an entrepreneur is someone who has an idea for a new business and acts on that idea to create a new company even if it means financial risk. Entrepreneurs are passionate individuals who want their business venture to succeed more than anything. Not all entrepreneurs dream of turning their small business into a large corporation, but they do go above and beyond to push their business forward no matter what it takes due to the increased risk associated with the venture.
Entrepreneurs are constantly learning and creating. They are leaders who get excited about the future and want to share that excitement with others. There are no official requirements to earn the "title" of entrepreneur. You don't have to be young, in the tech industry or even introducing a brand-new invention to be engaging in entrepreneurship.
If you feel like an impostor when calling yourself an entrepreneur, check out these four types of entrepreneurship for some inspiration. You may not be an innovator, but you're probably a small business owner, and both are entrepreneurs in their own right. Even investors can be entrepreneurs.
The average person who hears the word "entrepreneur" probably pictures an innovator. Innovators come up with brand-new ideas for an industry. They may even create entirely new markets. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are all innovators who happened to build multibillion-dollar companies out of their ideas, but you can be innovative on a smaller scale as well. Typically, however, innovative entrepreneurs tend to create scalable startups in order to attract venture capitalists and rapidly spread their idea throughout the industry or world.
Innovators are passionate individuals who decide to brand their ideas, services or products into a business or nonprofit. Like all entrepreneurs, innovators can't just have an idea for a new product or service and call it a day. They have to spread awareness about their innovation but not just to make a profit. The ultimate goal of an innovator is to revolutionize an industry, even if it doesn't happen in his lifetime.
Many nonprofit organizations are born because an innovator had an idea and wanted to share it far and wide without monetary gain. From changing the way cancer is treated or children are educated, nonprofit innovators are just as crucial to society as those like Henry Ford and the Silicon Valley startups.
2. Copycat Entrepreneurs
It's true that all of us are drawing inspiration from somewhere. It's smart and strategic to learn from industry leaders and to keep an eye on the competition in order to remain relevant, but be sure you're simply applying what you've learned rather than copying content, graphics, videos, products, etc.
Copycat entrepreneurs pay careful attention to successful innovators in an attempt to profit from their work. When an innovator markets an idea, copycat entrepreneurs recognize its value and decide to do something similar. They'll develop a similar product or service and attempt to carve out a niche in the market alongside the original innovator. Of course, stealing intellectual property is illegal, so copycat entrepreneurs run the risk of lawsuits if they don't take care to develop original technology or ideas after an initial spark of inspiration from an innovator.
However, some copycat entrepreneurs seem to take everything a successful entrepreneur has done and mimic it right down to the web design and blog topics. It's important to understand that there's no formula for being an entrepreneur. You aren't guaranteed success just because your website looks a certain way or you post something on social media every two hours. Entrepreneurs have to tune into the market and understand the consumers' needs.
3. Small Business Owners
Small business entrepreneurship is the most common form. If you're a plumber with your own business or you own a grocery store, you might not really feel like an entrepreneur. After all, your business idea isn't something new and exciting, right? Maybe it actually seemed like a pretty easy process compared to the groundbreaking journey through which some startups go. Take a second to give yourself some credit: You are absolutely an entrepreneur if you are a small business owner.
Do you know how many people want to start their own business and never lift a finger to try to make that dream a reality? Those people are not entrepreneurs. Even though there are other plumbers or grocery-store owners in the world, owning your own successful small business was your dream, and you made it a reality. You learned a little bit about sales, marketing, accounting and more, stayed optimistic even when the doubts crept in and put in the hours day and night to earn your stripes as an entrepreneur.
Remember that an entrepreneur is someone who has a business idea and acts on it. Innovators are just one subset of the entrepreneurial population, so you don't have to downplay your position in the world as an entrepreneur just because there are thousands of other plumbing businesses or grocery stores in the world. No one else has brought your vision to life. Even if you don't have many clients, you're a one-person show or your business venture isn't quite living up to your expectation, you're still an entrepreneur.
Some entrepreneurs like to be very hands-on with their projects, quitting their full-time jobs to dive head first into the realm of small business ownership or innovation. Other entrepreneurs are well-versed in the art of delegating tasks, and they decide that the best way they can propel their business idea forward is to give it some financial backing while other people see to the day-to-day details. Thus, investors also represent an important type of entrepreneur.
Are all investors entrepreneurs? If we hinge our definition of an entrepreneur on the fact that someone has a business idea and takes action to see it through despite financial risk, then only some investors can also bear the title of entrepreneur. Other investors back ideas that other people have had, and this is an important asset for entrepreneurs, but it doesn't make that investor an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurial investors tend to also be small business owners. Because they commit major funding to the business, they want to maintain some control over the direction of the business, and they do so as an owner or part owner. They maintain dedication to the business but in a managerial role. They tend to have other business interests and likely support multiple ventures at the same time.
Are You an Entrepreneur?
Do you still feel like an impostor in a world of entrepreneurs? Don't worry — there are even more ways to get involved in a business or bring an idea to life than these four types of entrepreneurship. Just because you don't want to be as heavily involved in the process doesn't make your contributions any less valuable or important.
Find a partner with qualities and skills that complement your own by visiting conferences for entrepreneurs, or connect with a startup incubator for support. You don't have to follow the same trajectory of the incredible startup success stories like Facebook. Your idea deserves to be in the world, so don't hold yourself back.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.