By the Way, What is an Entrepreneur?

There has been quite a bit of chatter on the Internet lately about Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited. In his book, Gerber proclaims that unless you have employees, you are NOT an entrepreneur. Without hiring employees, you are merely a “technician” doing what you always did. He goes on to say, “The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people.” This should come as shocking news to the 21.1 million non-employee businesses (70% of the total) in the U.S. (not to mention the world).

No, I do not believe Gerber’s premise for a second. Dozens of blogs and web sites offer definitions of what an entrepreneur is. There are also multiple dictionaries with definitions of the title, entrepreneur. They all say pretty much the same thing. Here is a compilation of those definitions:

An entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business, usually with considerable initiative, while taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

Michael offers a very good approach for growing a business by hiring employees, but I think he does a real disservice to the majority of small business owners who do not want to take on employees, or do not intend to grow beyond a certain point. These are the same businesses that pump a trillion dollars a year into the United States GDP. I can’t imagine what the world contribution is.

Being an entrepreneur is hard work and takes a lot of time, passion, money, and intestinal fortitude to become a successful businessperson. I believe every shop owner; every market vendor, every home-based business owner, and every non-employee business owner in the world fulfills the above definition and deserves to be called “Entrepreneur.”

2 thoughts on “By the Way, What is an Entrepreneur?”

  1. As an entrepreneur several times over, I can tell you that without the passion (the “fire in the belly”) one might have about a business venture, then you could possibly look at it from a more technical, academic position.

    Some may feel compelled to merely earn a few extra bucks online or buying/reselling goods and gadgets, but have no real sense of what they hope to achieve, let a lone a business plan or marketing plan to try to reach those goals. Yet aren’t they still considered “entrepreneurs”, merely by participating in the act of doing some kind of small business?

    Personally, I think that passion set fire to an idea that is then acted out with everything you’ve got – knowledge, skills, money, time, etc. – and you do your due diligence in setting up your business with successful goals in sight, is the true spirit of the American entrepreneur.

    Jeff’s last blog post..Anticipation…

  2. Hello Bob. To say someone is not an entrepreneur simply because they do not have employees is ridiculous. This guy Michael Gerber has it wrong.

    If I do what I’ve always done (immediately after graduating high school) I’d be working a 9 to 5 job and snowboarding on the weekends.

    Instead I have learned the real estate profession and made money in investing through my own ventures. I have no employees there. I find a property, higher out work, and fix up a house and sell it.

    What makes me an entrepreneur is I’m off doing my own thing educating myself and finding ways to create wealth from my own knowledge and experiences.

    John Hoff – eVentureBiz’s last blog post..General Partnerships: A Not-So-Great Business Structure

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