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What Is an Entrepreneur? A Definition of Entrepreneurship

The words entrepreneur and entrepreneurship has become really popular, but also very few people know what exactly they mean. Often entrepreneur is used instead of a businessman, or a man or a woman who starts a company and takes a risk. But this is not correct! Nope…  Let me try to throw some light on this popular word. In fact, the answer to the question “What is an entrepreneur?” seems to be not so trivial. It looks like its meaning has been evolving since its birth.

The definition of the word in The Oxford Dictionary is word wrong! According to it, entrepreneur means:

A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

And entrepreneurship is:

The activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit

These are not the accurate definitions, because that means that everyone who operates a business is an entrepreneur, but this is not so. A true entrepreneur has to have some more additional qualities than just operating a business and taking risks like leadership, charisma and some more. Peter Drucker (one of the fathers of entrepreneurship) even think that these people are more willing to avoid risks than willing to take risks (in his book ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’). Read below for a further explanation.

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Entrepreneur Definition

What Is An Entrepreneur And Where Does The Word Come From

Richard Callington

The word “entrepreneur” was invented in France, in the early 18th century. It derives from the French “entreprendre”, which in simple English means “undertake”. The first man using the term for economic purposes and actually building some theory around it was Richard Callington. According to him, an entrepreneur is someone, who practices business judgment in the face of uncertainty of the future. In this first definition, we can clearly recognize the word risk.

Jean-Baptiste Say

Later came the economist Jean-Baptiste Say, who formulated the definition this way: “one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as an intermediate between capital and labor”. Say also said ( 🙂 ) that an entrepreneur is a guy, “who shifts economic resources out of lower and into higher productivity and greater yield”. That’s how the school of entrepreneurship was founded.

Joseph Schumpeter

The work of a scientist from Austria was the next big milestone in entrepreneurship as a science. His name was Joseph Schumpeter. He continued the work of his colleagues coming up with some new bright ideas. According to him, the entrepreneur is the ultimate innovator and earns his profits, however temporary, from successful innovations. He also detached the “risk” from the entrepreneur, assigning it to capitalists. This spurred a wave of critics from around the world, but this only helped the future research.

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Peter Drucker

The American professor Peter Drucker brought entrepreneurship to the next level. He developed further the ideas, describing the entrepreneurs as:
an innovator, who is willing to take a measured risk to start a new venture chasing greater than usual profit.

According to him, the basics of entrepreneurship are innovations. But he also put the emphasis on leadership. The successful entrepreneur must have very good leadership and management skills, which are essential for his/her success.

Having all the above in mind, I could say that an entrepreneur is a person, whose main virtue is innovation. This person is a visionary, a good leader and manager, willing to take risks above the average, usually, for a profit, his/her motives may be not solely financial. Entrepreneurs take risks, but only reasonable ones. That means not every business manager or owner is an entrepreneur. This title is deserved by only the people having the specified qualities from above.

What do you think about all of this? Please, share your thoughts as comments below. And don’t forget to share this article if you think it’s interesting.