Have you ever noticed the fact that once you begin to think about something, you see it everywhere? Anyone who has ever begun the search for a new automobile can attest, from the moment you Google it, you begin to pass that model in traffic everywhere. Of course, they were there the whole time, we simply didn't have them at top of mind.
The same is true for anything and especially so with entrepreneurs. You may never notice the "little guy" who is just starting out. The kid starting a landscaping business in his own backyard. The single mom opening up a Shopify store. The retired CPA who decides to take on a few private clients just to keep his hand in the game.
They're out there, right now.
They're out there, providing services that you may very well need at a price point and a level of personal attention that very few "big" companies can ever hope to provide. Of course, there's just one problem - most of them won't last. They'll become the victim of their own success or the victim of their own inability to grow.
The kid will go back to school.
The mom will decide to go back to a "real" job.
The retiree will want to spend more time on the golf course.
The worst part is this: none of this was because the business they created failed, it was because the business they created was never designed to last any real length of time. I ask you, then, Dear Reader, were these even entrepreneurs - or, perhaps a better term, small business owners? If they were, was the shuttering of their business a failure or simply the logical course of action?
I'd maintain that many small businesses are that only because of the convenient terminology it provides. Obviously, if you get to brick and mortar companies, business licenses, and operating permits, then you have taken a step towards a legitimate entity that might be defined as a small business, but the young man cutting grass for cash with no contractual obligations and no license (or even business card) can hardly be defined as an entrepreneur at that stage.
So what makes one an entrepreneur?
After decades of studying the men and women that make the decision to open their own Great, Growing Company, I'd have to say it comes down to the Vision they have for that business - do they expect to build the company or just have some income for the short term? In creating the business, do they plan to create a system by which they will have employees - even contractual ones - to handle the daily activities of the company? Have they addressed - or even thought of - and plan to exit the company when the time is right and are they building that plan into the very design of the company from Day One?
The little things - the attention to detail - the Dream, Vision, Purpose, and Mission of their company is where the differences between an entrepreneur and a business owner lie. Those seemingly minor details also decide whether that company will create a palpable difference in the world we live in.
Those little differences will also be the deciding factor in what that owner's finances look like over time. Don't look at small business as a means to an end and a way to make money until the corporation hires you, look at it as a chance to create something of immeasurable value and beauty in a world that desperately needs it.