Entrepreneurial or Enterprising?

The term “entrepreneurial” gets thrown around a good bit these days, especially now that startups are a popular headline in the news. If you’re trying to become an entrepreneur, take a look at these IT Support Services for your business. The term ‘solopreneur’ has also become quite popular, leading many people to wonder what is a solopreneur. I’ve been called entrepreneurial before, both before and after helping launch The Iron Yard. So what exactly does the term mean?

Mirriam-Webster defines the word “entrepreneur” as:

One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.1

The dictionary application on my laptop, which sources material from the New Oxford American Dictionary, defines entrepreneurial as close to the same:

Characterized by the taking of financial risks in the hope of profit; enterprising.

In the truest sense of the word, one of the core characteristics of being entrepreneurial is that some sort of material risk is being taken—something’s on the line, whether that’s investing your cash or forgoing a steady job or paycheck to start a new venture (or both).

Many times, I think people use the word entrepreneurial but mean something closer to enterprising. Here’s the New Oxford American definition:

Having or showing initiative and resourcefulness.

I know many people who are extremely enterprising, but aren’t entrepreneurs. Said another way, possessing enterprising qualities does not an entrepreneur make.

Semantically the difference between the two terms is negligible for many people, but I think the distinction is important. I can tell the difference in someone who is enterprising and shows entrepreneurial potential and someone who has put cash on the line to try and make something happen.

There are also degrees of entrepreneurship—I would consider my business partner Peter, who has started, sold and invested in many companies a true-blooded entrepreneur, proven many times over. I consider myself an entrepreneur, but to a lesser degree. Sometimes I wonder if I’m wired to invest in companies (I hope I find out one day).

Also, being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean pursuing a traditional business, as my friend who runs a “non-profit” company has written about2.

Wherever you see yourself on the spectrum, it’s a question worth considering: am I more entrepreneurial or more enterprising?

1. You can read the full dictionary entry on the Mirriam-Webster website. 2. You can read about Ryan McCrary and his views on profit here.

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Practicing the art of bringing guns to a knife fight.

2 thoughts on “Entrepreneurial or Enterprising?”

  1. This is something I’ve been trying to verbalized for quite some time now. I think the ‘risk’ part makes all the difference.

    The risk is most often what determines the action (or inaction). Otherwise it’s just ideas…

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