I have cut-n-paste this article in its entirety from a blog entry at Harvard Business Review (blogs.hbr.org) because I think it’s a fascinating read.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I have heard far too many answers to this question. Everything from being a risk taker, inventor, a small business owner, to being just plain crazy or lucky. But none of these things have anything to do with entrepreneurialism, and frankly neither does much of what I have read in business books. Even the always insightful Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent New Yorker article on the subject, only got it half right.
Being an entrepreneur is something far different than what most people think. It is not about behavior (whether risk-prone or risk-averse); it is not about business type (you can run a small business, a public company, a division of a company, or be an investor); and it is not about title (you do not have to be a CEO to be an entrepreneur). Instead, I see it as a personality trait. There are plenty of small business owners and start-up founders who do exceptionally well — but are not what I would consider entrepreneurs. Just like in big business, you can be a successful general manager without being an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial.