In my reading about small business success, I often come across two terms that seem to be used interchangeable:  Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur.  While there are certainly similarities, I am finding some distinct differences.

syn open for businessThe Small Business Owner is someone who is very comfortable with their business and understands the natural size of their business in their given industry.  This businessperson enjoys what they do and are good at their chosen craft.  They relish their unique offerings and strive to be the best in their little niche of the business world.  The small business owner is not big on risk taking.  This often leads to personal sacrifice of their own needs in support of their business.  Long hours, weekend work, and putting their own life and finances on the line are not uncommon for the small business owner.  They work their business and do what it takes to make their business work in turn. 

syn city bakeryThe term “Mom & Pop Business” is often associated with very small businesses.  These are the foundations of our small business landscape.  These business are the local grocers, independent book stores (Think “You’ve Got Mail”), and country fruit stands.  They are the hardware store owners and the local florists.  Often in this day and age, these small business are being swallowed up by the big box companies.  I find this to be a shame since it eliminates the personal touch and character of these business that individuals have worked so hard to grow, sometimes for generations.

syn entrepreneurThe Entrepreneur, on the other hand, is a business professional who is willing to personally take on a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.  The entrepreneur is trying to make money constantly – it is their driving force.  They eat, sleep, and breathe money and growth.  It can be a pretty good deal since sometimes it is with someone else’s money!  Usually the entrepreneur ends up creating a business bigger than themselves.

sym business womanOne of the distinctive characteristics of an entrepreneur is their inherent degree of risk taking – often time they are willing to take financial risks that the small business owner will not.  They live by the motto ‘go big or go home’ and are very good at seeing opportunities where others do not.  Entrepreneurs follow their inner calling, and are fueled by inspiration rather than motivation. There is a blending of the work they do and who they are, thus making them feel they are constantly drawn forward to become the person they were born to be.

So can small business owners become Entrepreneurs?  Of course, if they have the drive and personality characteristics of an entrepreneur.  It is much harder though for an entrepreneur to work in the parameters of a very small business.  The best of both worlds would be to have a small business owner who is able to grow their business by tapping into some entrepreneurial strategies, while still retaining that “mom & pop” charm and customer service that has served them well in the past.

Written by Diane

Diane is the Creative Consultant for Synergetic Web Group. Together with the owner Jenny, they create the team building fabulous websites for small businesses.

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