I’ve worked with small business owners and entrepreneurs for over 25 years. In that time, I regularly interchange the words “small business owner” and “entrepreneur” when describing the owner/partner of a company with less than 100 employees.
However, they really are different people…very different. If you have a company with less than 100 employees, it’s imperative that you understand the difference. Not knowing what kind of owner you are can mean the difference between success and failure.
Who Is A Small Business Owner?
I define a small business owner as someone who enjoys being in control of their own destiny. They don’t fit in well in corporate America and appreciate the flexibility of being their own boss. There are different kinds of small business owners too–Main Street Retailers, Home-Based Businesses, Service Professionals (e.g. Roofers, Doctors) are just a few examples. A common thread among them is that growing their businesses is not a critical part of their plan. They like the lifestyle that comes with running their company. They’re not looking to open a second location, enter new markets or double the size of their sales force in the next 12 months. They also see most purchases as an expense, not an investment.
And What Defines An Entrepreneur?
Transversely, an entrepreneur is driven by growth. They aspire to take their companies to the next level every year. Their plan centers on providing a product or service that fills a void, capitalizing on the opportunity to enter new markets, open new locations and introduce new products. They typically see purchases as investments for growing their company.
As an owner of one of these types of companies, it is critical for you to know whether you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner. I’ve witnessed small business owners acquire their competitors to gain market share and increase the size of their footprint. Unfortunately, many of these owners didn’t put themselves in the proper position to deal with the responsibilities of running a larger company…and both businesses wound up failing.
I’ve also seen entrepreneurs suddenly decide that they wanted to be small business owners. Unfortunately, the wheels were already in motion to grow their companies. When their expansion plans came to a halt, it proved to be very costly to the companies.
It’s tough enough these days to run a successful business regardless of what type of company you run. Take the time to figure out what type of business owner you are so that you improve your chances of surviving…and thriving…in today’s business world.