It’s a simple question: What is an entrepreneur? Unfortunately, the term has no single definition. Instead, its twelve earnest, enterprising letters can be — and have been — used to describe countless different types of businessmen.
From traders to tycoons, merchants to magnates, thousands of professionals have had the term thrown at them. For some, it has stuck. So, in search of a definitive definition, we went directly to the source — and asked some of the most successful businessmen we know; How would they define the word ‘entrepreneur’?
Tom Broughton, founder and CEO of Cubitts
“Being an entrepreneur is like watching your favourite football team in the League Two play-off semi-finals. You have a man sent off after five minutes, a biased referee, you’re two goals down — but you somehow scrape it through to half time. The only other fan is your mum, and there’s no oranges at half time.
“But the slim chance of a glorious comeback keeps you going.”
Nick English, co-founder of Bremont Watches
“Being an entrepreneur is about waking up in the morning — not knowing what will be thrown at you — and having that passion and trepidation to start and grow a business from small beginnings.
“You use educated risk, absolute devotion and razor-focus to follow you own path — but never forget or being afraid to have lofty objectives or goals in there.”
Archie Hewlett, founder and CEO of Duke + Dexter
“Ahh, the buzzword. LinkedIn Occupation: Entrepreneur. For me, an entrepreneur is defined as someone with relentless energy, sheer ruthlessness, and unwavering optimism in the pursuit to bring a business idea to life — continuously obsessed and ever trying to evolve it — at all costs.
“Entrepreneurs are the ultimate risk takers, sacrificing far more than just money. They are also the loneliest figures, despite often being the most social.”
Spencer Matthews, founder of CleanCo
“An entrepreneur is someone who welcomes significant financial risks to start a business in the hope of becoming successful. Ironically, success is the only measure for whether or not you can call yourself an entrepreneur.”
Freddie Garland, founder of Freddie's Flowers
“For me, an entrepreneur is someone who has a clear vision for an idea they are incredibly passionate about — and thinks people could benefit from — who then does everything they can to make it happen.
“They then need to be able to maintain a clear sense of this vision and be able to articulate it to anyone that joins the team, so everyone is pulling in the same direction.”
Gauthier Van Malderen, founder of Perlego
“An entrepreneur builds things that excites them. They see a world full of possibilities, learn to grow when facing the challenges that come with setting up a company and stay passionate about their projects by choosing sectors that satisfy their creative curiosity.
“Eventually an entrepreneur also learns to spot people who share their vision and ambition, building a team who can grow together in the face of failure, and join you in celebrating the successes. It’s the best job in the world.”
Phil Beahon, co-founder of Castore
“To me, entrepreneurs are different to other people in two ways. Firstly in their ability to persevere – to keep grinding, working and pushing forward long after others have given up; this ability far more than talent, vision or any other characteristic determines success as an entrepreneur.
“Secondly, the ability to bear risk – at their core, entrepreneurs are risk takers, backing themselves against the odds when nobody else believes in them. If you have those two elements, you have a great chance of being successful. “
Henry Hales, founder of Sir Plus
“An ‘entrepreneur’ is someone that starts a business. A successful entrepreneur is someone who leads that business to profit, or more recently, numerous investment rounds.
“Be wary of people who refer to themselves as entrepreneurs. Unless they’re experienced and wise, it’s a bit The Apprentice.”
Luca Faloni, founder of Luca Faloni
“Entrepreneurship is about having a very specific vision about how the world should be in an area you are passionate about. And then it is about spending the rest of your life to make it happen.”
Tom Maxwell, CEO of Twisted North America
“‘Entrepreneur’ has become a trendy way to self-aggrandise. Entrepreneurship is about connecting the dots that others might not see, taking risks that others might not take and moving forward with purpose regardless of the challenges ahead. I relate more to that definition than the way it might be used today.”
Grayson Hart, co-founder of Pure Sport CBD
“In my experience, an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to live in the unknown and become familiar with that challenge. It is someone who has to take chances with the very real possibility that things may not work.
“It is learning to find comfort in the insecurity of things; challenging the status quo, being willing to fail and adapting quickly — all the while knowing that, in business and in life, nothing is ever guaranteed to go to plan! Taking this challenge head-on is, to me, true entrepreneurialism!”
Ali Watkiss, CEO and Co-Founder of SunGod
“An entrepreneur is someone who is obsessed with continuously improving something that most people think can’t be improved!”
Clive Jackson, founder and chairman of VICTOR
“An entrepreneur is someone who has spotted an opportunity to create a new business and is willing to take a leap of faith and do it — having identified a gap in the market for a product or service which is entirely new or will be better than what is currently available.”
Max Büsser, founder and CEO of MB&F
“A real entrepreneur is a bipolar, somewhat masochistic utopian. Half dreamer, half pragmatic; the entrepreneur risks his life to feel alive.
“George Bernard Shaw once wrote: ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’ The world can thank a lot of unreasonable entrepreneurs!”
Robin Clough, CEO & founder of Enemigo Tequila
“Although an increasingly over-used term, the aspirational ethos behind the term remains true. Someone who notices an opportunity, and rather than watch it pass by, dedicates everything to solve that problem for the consumers they care for.”
Henry Connell and Alex Thraves, co-founders of The Uncommon
“An entrepreneur is someone with the curiosity, audacity, doggedness and, let’s face it, naivety to seek out an opportunity and get it off the ground. A successful one has all that plus enough luck on their side to ensure that others don’t beat them to it.”
Paul Rabil, co-founder of the Premier Lacrosse League
“I liken being an entrepreneur to that of a chemist. You engage in deep research and are constantly experimenting with new products and designs. Beware that your skills may also become double-edged swords — your high ambition can lead to overextension, a lack of patience, and a “never enough” mindset.
“Your curiosity can lead you to a state of constant evolution, which can turn to inefficacy. That’s where pragmatism becomes critical. Or, just as importantly, having a business partner and co-founder. That said, I love it, and couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Bruce Jones, co-founder and CEO of Triton Submarines
“Today, for the vast majority of people in the workforce, the most important criteria in determining job satisfaction is job security. Conversely, an entrepreneur measures his worth, his ideas, his work ethic and his business skill and determines he will accept the risk of failure and attempt to establish a successful business.”
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