After positive feedback on my post clarifying the difference between leadership and management, I'm sharing what makes someone an entrepreneur and what they might be if not.

Definitions are like opinions-;everyone has one and people argue over them-;so I'm not trying to tell anyone how to think. I'm only sharing a perspective that has helped me. If you use another definition than I mention here that works better for you, please share for others.

Many base entrepreneurship in how they handle risk-;taking it, sharing it, delegating it-;but I see people handling risk similarly throughout business without being entrepreneurial.

Many base entrepreneurship in innovation and technology, but I see entrepreneurs who act without any innovation or technology. Likewise, I see many people act with innovation and technology who aren't entrepreneurs.

Same with size, age, or disruptiveness of companies. Some people are clear entrepreneurs yet work in large, old, or non-disruptive companies. Some people run new ventures like old, stodgy companies whom no one would call entrepreneurs.

Same with vision, grit, and many other personal traits. Many non-entrepreneurs have them in spades and many entrepreneurs lack them.

If Not Risk, Innovation, Technology, Size, or Age, Then What?

I find the most useful distinction between entrepreneurial activity and any other is acting despite lack of access to resources.

By resources I mean the main ones like time and money, as well as less tangible ones like connections, motivation, intelligence, experience, and so on.

I didn't make up this distinction, though I forget where I heard it.

I find it the most useful because I find it motivates everything above. Knowing that people before me have achieved more motivates me to create a vision, learn to handle the risk, start a company or project within an existing company. It tells me I can develop grit since they did.

The opposite of lack of access to resources is access to resources. As I see it, starting with connections may make you a bureaucrat, even if you aren't in a big company. Starting with enough money to hire people with all the skills and experience you need may make you a regular businessperson or a scion if you inherited it, but not entrepreneurial.

I'm not implying better or worse. If you create a product or service that helps people so much that they reward you for it, you've served them. Starting with access to resources doesn't diminish your accomplishment in my mind.

Bureaucratic or other business success is success and I applaud people who serve others so much that they reward them for it.


I believe this definition lowers the barriers to starting more than any other, which I believe enables people to practice entrepreneurship more than any other.

More than the distinction is the motivation.

Anyone can create a vision, a plan, a technology, and so forth. If you have all the resources you need to implement it, go do it.

Most people don't for lack of resources-;time, money, experience, etc.

Entrepreneurs before you have marshaled resources to succeed and entrepreneurs after you will too.

Marshal the resources and you can too.

Published on: Oct 31, 2018