What is Entrepreneurship? Entrepreneur Definition and Meaning

Nicole Martins Ferreira Getting Started

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While the definition of entrepreneurship has stayed constant for decades, the possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs sure have come a long way. 

Think about it: 100 years ago, what options did an entrepreneur have? If you didn’t have the skill to make something, and didn’t have the capital to buy something, you were out of luck. 

Fast forward to today, and there are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. The opportunities have exploded.

That’s a big reason why, according to Google, usage of the term looks like this:

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at what it means to be an entrepreneur. You’ll also hear from some modern-day entrepreneurs who explain how they took the leap, and how you can too.

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What is Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the act of creating a business or businesses while building and scaling it to generate a profit.

But as a basic entrepreneurship definition, that one is a bit limiting. The more modern entrepreneurship definition is also about transforming the world by solving big problems. Like bringing about social change or creating an innovative product that challenges the status quo of how we live our lives on a daily basis.

What the entrepreneurship definition doesn’t tell you is that entrepreneurship is what people do to take their career and dreams into their hands and lead it in the direction they want. 

It’s about building a life on your own terms. No bosses. No restricting schedules. And no one holding you back. Entrepreneurs are able to take the first step into making the world a better place – for everyone in it, including themselves.

What is an Entrepreneur? Entrepreneur Definition

what is entrepreneurship

An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business with the aim to make a profit.

This entrepreneur definition can be a bit vague, but for good reason. An entrepreneur can be a person who sets up their first online store on the side or a freelancer just starting out.

The reason why they’re considered entrepreneurs, though some disagree, is because where you start out isn’t necessarily where you’ll end up. 

An entrepreneur is someone who starts a side hustle that can eventually create a full-time, sustainable business with employees. Same with the freelancer. If your entrepreneurial mindset is focused on creating a profitable business, you fit the entrepreneur definition.  

But the entrepreneur meaning involves much more than being a business or job creator. 

Entrepreneurs are some of the world’s most powerful transformers. From Elon Musk sending people to Mars to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs making computers part of every household, entrepreneurs imagine the world differently.

And the entrepreneur definition rarely ever talks about the enormous impact these thought leaders have on the world.

Entrepreneurs see possibilities and solutions where the average person only sees annoyances and problems.

Understanding what an entrepreneur is can help more people recognize the value they can – and already do – contribute to the world.

What Is the Meaning of Entrepreneurship?

The meaning of entrepreneurship involves an entrepreneur who takes action to make a change in the world. Whether startup entrepreneurs solve a problem that many struggle with each day, bring people together in a way no one has before, or build something revolutionary that advances society, they all have one thing in common: action.

It’s not some idea that’s stuck in your head. Entrepreneurs take the idea and execute it. Entrepreneurship is about execution of ideas.

How Real Entrepreneurs Define Entrepreneurship

what is entrepreneurship

Let’s take a look at what real entrepreneurs have to say about the meaning of entrepreneurship, and what it means to them on a personal level.

Altimese Nichole

Altimese Nichole, Founder of NicholeNicole shares: “Many are excited to become an entrepreneur but get discouraged when reality hits. Entrepreneurship means staying committed to your goals beyond your feelings of excitement. Stay the course and keep your ‘why’ in mind.”

Christopher Molaro's entrepreneurship definition

Founder and CEO of NeuroFlow Christopher Molaro says, “Entrepreneurship means being the one that is willing to take a leap, work hard enough to sacrifice everything else around you, all in the name of solving problems because no one else is capable or possesses the desire.”

Jolijt Tamanaha entrepreneur meaning

The meaning of entrepreneurship is a bit different for Jolijt Tamanaha, Director of Marketing and Finance of Fresh Prints, who shares: “Entrepreneurs make their way down a never-ending list of problems with grit, passion, and energy. While intense, being an entrepreneur means you get to live life learning an incredible amount and maximize your impact on the world because you have to tackle the hardest problems.”

Nicole Faith

Here’s how Nicole Faith, Founder of 10 Carat Creations, breaks it down: “Being an entrepreneur means having a plan and vision but still succeeding or trying to succeed when the plan falls apart and you’re left with only your vision. It also means knowing when to give up, especially if your idea isn’t working due to forces outside of yourself.”

James Sandoval

According to James Sandoval, Founder and CEO of Measure Match: “Being an entrepreneur means diving headlong into a [likely very risky] venture of your own making, working hard, long hours, often alone, to carve out a path to success and never, ever giving up.”

Mike Kim

Mike Kim, Co-founder and COO of KPOP Foods, shares what entrepreneurship is really all about. “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted. I am a US Army veteran. I have been in combat and I have endured many difficult situations. However, I can honestly say starting a company has been just as challenging, albeit in different ways. 

“While no one’s life may be in imminent danger, the battles you face on your entrepreneurial journey can last years with no repose. Creating a successful business requires massive amounts of action, perseverance, and conviction. If you understand this and choose to proceed, you’ll find the experience rich in rewards.”

Importance of Entrepreneurship

what is entrepreneurship

Why is entrepreneurship so important? Let’s look at a few of the top reasons.

  • Entrepreneurs create jobs: Without entrepreneurs, jobs wouldn’t exist. Entrepreneurs take on the risk to employ themselves. Their ambition to continue their business’ growth eventually leads to the creation of new jobs. As their business continues to grow, even more jobs are created. 
  • Entrepreneurs innovate: Some of the greatest technologies in today’s society have come from businesses. The technological advances come out of a need to solve a problem, create efficiencies, or improve the world. In periods where there’s more advancement in technology, there’s usually an entrepreneur to thank for it.
  • Entrepreneurs create change: Entrepreneurs dream big. So naturally, some of their ideas will make worldwide change. They might create a new product that solves a burning problem or take on the challenge to explore something never explored before. Many aim to make the world better with their products, ideas, or businesses.
  • Entrepreneurs give to society: While some have this notion of the rich being evil and greedy, they often do more for the greater good than the average person. They make more money and thus pay more in taxes, which helps fund social services. Entrepreneurs are some of the biggest donors to charities and nonprofits for various causes. Some seek to invest their money in creating solutions to help poorer communities have access to things we take for granted, like clean drinking water and good health care.
  • Entrepreneurs add to national income: Entrepreneurship generates new wealth in an economy. New ideas and improved products or services from entrepreneurs allow for the growth of new markets and new wealth. 

Why Do People Become Entrepreneurs

what is entrepreneurship

Every entrepreneur has their own ‘why’ that drove them into being their own boss. Whether entrepreneurs need more freedom or to make an impact, they all take control of their life by living life on their own terms. 

Here are a few of the reasons why people become entrepreneurs:

  • To change the world: Many entrepreneurs strive to make the world better. Whether entrepreneurs believe in space exploration, eliminating poverty, or creating a practical but game-changing product, they ultimately build a brand in service of others. Some entrepreneurs use their business as a way to raise capital quickly to funnel into their noble causes.
  • They don’t want a boss: Entrepreneurs often struggle with having a boss. They might feel suffocated and held back. Some entrepreneurs may feel that they have a more effective way of doing things. Others may dislike the lack of creative freedom. Ultimately, they become attracted to entrepreneurship to succeed on their own terms. Check out 10 Obvious Signs You Should Be Working for Yourself.
  • They want flexible hours: Entrepreneurship is popular with those who need flexible hours. For example, many people with disabilities often enjoy entrepreneurship, as it allows them to work when they’re able to. Parents can raise their children at home or pick them up from school without having to feel guilty about it. Students get the flexibility to work around their demanding schedules and courseloads.
  • They want to work from anywhere: Along with flexibility in working hours, entrepreneurship is popular among those who don’t want to be tied down to a specific location. Entrepreneurs might not want to work from the same place every single day, as this can get boring fast. 
  • They can’t get a job: Many find a path into entrepreneurship when they can’t get a job. Instead of being defeated by their situation, they create new opportunities for themselves. A new graduate might start an online store the summer after graduation to build up their resume. A parent who got laid off in the coronavirus economy might start a business to ensure they can continue feeding their family while keeping a roof over their heads.
  • They don’t fit into the corporate environment: Entrepreneurs often say that stuffy corporate environments  restrict their growth. You can spot an entrepreneur in a corporate environment as they’re usually trying to gain more control in their role and better understand how everything fits together.
  • They’re curious: Entrepreneurs love finding out the answer to the question, ‘what will happen if…’ They’re experimental and love learning. They regularly read business books to advance their knowledge. So naturally, entrepreneurship appeals to them because doing allows them to learn the most in the shortest amount of time. Their curiosity allows their continued growth.
  • They’re ambitious: Those who love reaching difficult goals and milestones are made to be entrepreneurs. Since there’s no limit to what they can achieve, entrepreneurs constantly find their projects growing bigger and better than they ever imagined. When obstacles come up, they find the workaround to their goal. They’re unstoppable.

Examples of Entrepreneurs

what is entrepreneurship

Let’s take a look at some examples of entrepreneurs.

Walt Disney became one of the most well-known names in the world. You know him from the Walt Disney Company and theme parks like Disneyland and Walt Disney World. His brand started with the Mickey Mouse character and eventually expanded to include thousands of characters and whimsical fantasy worlds.

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He faced challenges like people stealing his work and loads of commercial failures, but he kept pushing through and stayed committed to his vision.

Mark Zuckerberg created several products before building Facebook. He created an instant messaging tool that his father used in his dentistry practice to communicate with his receptionist. 

Zuckerberg also created music software that Microsoft and AOL were interested in buying, even though he was only a teenager. Within the year he first founded Facebook, he already had 1 million users. Today, Mark Zuckerberg has a networth of $68.3 billion.

Sara Blakely first started her Spanx brand in 1998. She was one of the first creators of women’s leggings. Her brand specializes in shapewear and also includes items like bras, panties, and hosiery. 

She’s also the inventor of arm tights, which allows women to wear their summer clothing year round. At one point, Blakely was the youngest self-made female billionaire.

Startup Founders Share Entrepreneurship Tips

what is entrepreneurship

Let’s take a look at the top tips shared by startup entrepreneurs, and how you can use these tips to overcome the challenges that come your way.

Dez Stephens

Dez Stephens of Radiant Health Institute shares, “The ONE piece of advice I’d give someone who wants to be an entrepreneur is to start your business with no debt and no overhead. That’s how I started my company six years ago and it greatly increased my inevitable success.”

Swati Davidson

One of the best entrepreneur quotes comes from Swati Davidson, who says: “Trust your intuition. The reason is simple: In order to beat your competitors and grow rapidly, you’ve got to be able to spot those key opportunities and then take action, even when risky. 

“This requires “instinct” and the confidence to act up on it. Some call it luck, but it’s not. It’s having the courage to trust your gut.”

Keval Baxi

Keval Baxi of Codal Inc. shares, “One piece of advice that I’d give to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur is to be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. 

“Leaders and managers that don’t follow through fail to gain the respect of their team, and don’t encourage accountability. Make sure that your team knows that you’ll be there when you’re needed.”

Chrys Tan

Chrys Tan of Chrys Media says, “The one piece of advice that I would give to an entrepreneur would be to embrace failure. Failure is guaranteed when you are an entrepreneur, whether it is the failure of meeting a number of targeted sales or even the failure of a business. 

“But if you know that experiencing failure is guaranteed when running a business, you wouldn’t fear failure but embrace failure instead. When you embrace failure, you take on more risks and you move past failures faster as well.”

Entrepreneur Quotes

Need some inspiration? Here are some popular entrepreneur quotes to keep you lit up and ready to go.

what is entrepreneurship

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” – Peter Drucker, entrepreneur quotes

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, entrepreneur quotes

what is entrepreneurship

“From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better.” – Richard Branson entrepreneur quotes

what is entrepreneurship

“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.” – Naveen Jain entrepreneur quotes

what is entrepreneurship

“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” — Entrepreneur quotes from Reid Hoffman

“The number one reason why people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family and neighbors.” – Napoleon Hill entrepreneur quotes

what is entrepreneurship

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” – Scott Belsky entrepreneur quotes

what is entrepreneurship

“There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” – Phil Libin entrepreneur quotes

what is entrepreneurship

“Being an entrepreneur is a mindset. You have to see things as opportunities all the time. I like to do interviews. I like to push people on certain topics. I like to dig into the stories where there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.” – Soledad O’Brien entrepreneur quotes

For more quotes about entrepreneurship, check out our post of best inspirational business quotes for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Ideas

As a startup entrepreneur, there are so many ideas you can pursue depending on the business skills you already have and what you’re willing to learn. Here are a handful of business ideas to get you started:

Are You Ready to Be an Entrepreneur?

There’s no single right way to be an entrepreneur. These people come in all shapes and sizes and can influence virtually any aspect of life as we know it.

In a sphere with so much diversity, there are a few things that all entrepreneurs have in common: they’re full of passion and ambition, and they use these as a driving force to build empires that solve some of the world’s toughest problems.

If you’re looking to make your mark on the world or advance society – or even break free from the exhausting and inflexible 9-to-5 job, you just might be an entrepreneur in the making. 

Trust your gut, follow your instincts, and always keep your mind open to learning and exploring new opportunities that come your way.

What is the meaning of entrepreneurship to you? Comment below on why you became an entrepreneur or how you’re planning to become one.


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Nicole Martins Ferreira
Nicole Martins Ferreira
Nicole Martins Ferreira is a content marketer at Oberlo and experienced ecommerce entrepreneur. She’s been building online stores since 2013 and sharing her secrets with Oberlo users since 2016. Follow her on Twitter @nicolemarfer.