What is an entrepreneur?
When I was an undergrad at Drexel I was heads down. I worked around the clock for those 5 years; classes during the day, waitressing or bartending at night and busting my butt on assignments whenever I could. I had nights where I might not have shown up to the sewing lab until midnight and I would find my sorority of fashion design peers there, goofy and sleep deprived – incredibly creative – and we would sew, pattern-make, repeat, until the sun came up. Some fell asleep on piles of fabric, others drank tons of red bull and had total meltdowns when the needle on their machine broke. We drove each other… in a number of ways (mad is a word that comes to mind).
Of all those years not much beyond seam allowance or cash tips caught my eye; but a flyer on a wall of many flyers did: “The Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship, 2006 Business Plan Competition.”
I dreamt my whole life about having my own business. About inventing something needed or important – filling holes, making sales, celebrating, repeat (one reason for majoring in Fashion Design). I took a chance and I disrupted my routine, and one evening I found myself in a lecture at the Baiada Center, hearing an entrepreneur speak about his lessons learned. The word however was still foreign to me… What was an “entrepreneur”? It wasn’t part of my prior vocabulary.
The word in itself is derived from the French word “entreprendre” which means to undertake. This was combined with the English word “enterprise” in the early 19th century to establish “entrepreneur”. How that all goes down, I have no idea. Interesting none the less. Of all the definitions of the word, the simplest form comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration:
“An entrepreneur: Sees an opportunity. Makes a plan. Starts the business. Manages the business. Receives the profits.”
Boom. Done. Or is it?
How about what’s innate? What about the 3rd grade kid who spent his weekends dipping toothpicks in cinnamon oil and selling them to his classmates for a quarter each? (<true childhood story of my boyfriend Bob) I guess his story is true to the SBA’s definition – he executed. I would argue however that he wasn’t intentionally starting a business; doing what he did was a natural inclination. There are real character traits critical to defining the entrepreneur. To list a few, the entrepreneur is: creative, risk-accepting, responsibility-accepting, innovative, dedicated, passionate, has no regard for business-as-usual, politics or restrictions, and is a people leader.
This is not the end of the story. I’ll revisit defining the entrepreneur many times throughout this journey, while sharing helpful resources for those inclined to own their work. Are you an entrepreneur? What is your personality type? If you’re interested, take the FREE Jung Typology Test™ to learn a little more about yourself. In an upcoming blog I’ll discuss personality types, and what I’ve learned from my own results.
Next stop: my new home away from home, the Van Pelt library to begin digesting all of this… where’s my red bull?