When is an entrepreneur not an entrepreneur. When they are not generating vast amounts of wealth! This maybe slightly hard on hard working small business owners who are often called entrepreneurs, but it could be argued that lifestyle business don’t really classify as entrepreneurial. I think the reason for making the distinction is to really empower the word entrepreneur, give it some meaning, some gravitas. Not everybody can be an entrepreneur, not everybody wants to be an entrepreneur but how do you know you are one? Well an entrepreneur creates enormous value.

Entrepreneurs tend to operate in the high risk, high innovation area of business which if successful will bring high rewards, quicker. Alternatively the small business owner may well be in a lower risk area, with less innovation (probably an existing product and competing on price alone) and he rewards will be less and slower coming.

So a small business owner is not necessarily an entrepreneur but I am sure their paths start in the same place and probably cross. Setting up a business may not, by definition, be entrepreneurial but it is one of the first steps. I can imagine most entrepreneurs will have gone through this process probably many times. Whether it be setting up as a sole trader, a limited company, buying a franchise or setting up a simple market stall you are following a path, beaten by many a successful entrepreneur before you.

To become successful as an entrepreneur you need to understand your own strengths, know your weaknesses and learn from your successes and mistakes. We generally view entrepreneurs, as business people who start something new (the word entrepreneur comes from the French ‘entrepende’ meaning ‘to begin something’) they are seen as being creative and happy to take risks. And many of these attributes could be applied to many small business owners. 

What is also interesting is that according to various reports and surveys nearly half of the UK working population want to start up their own business based on their own concept! However less than 6% actually manage to follow this dream through. Which is a shame, since entrepreneurship has a major, positive impact on our economy and society! Entrepreneurs can create new markets, remove old markets and impact existing markets, reducing prices, improving service and generally adding real value from a consumer perspective. And this fact is celebrated across the World during Global Entrepreneurship week.

Today there is a huge focus on young entrepreneurs and the support and education available for them. Governments are beginning to realise how important entrepreneurs are and the importance education plays in the process of successfully starting and running a business. As David Cameron recently said ‘the future of our economy depends on a new generation of entrepreneurs coming up with ideas’.

Universities are now playing a major role in the development of the youthful, entrepreneurial spirit. If you visit almost any university and many colleges within the UK you are more than likely to find a centre focused on helping students take the first step into business and entrepreneurship. Correspondingly during the last decade the number of students describing themselves as running their own business (i.e. self-employedor freelance) has increased significantly almost rising by 50% in the period 2002 to 2009. We have also seen more funding opportunities for entrepreneurial research in addition to more advice, support and education.

However as a young adult you are 5 times more likely to be unemployed than start your own business. To address this issue, the government has announced a scheme to help the unemployed start up their own business. David Cameron said of the scheme that it would help make the years to come «some of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial in our history». The new Enterprise Allowance Scheme would help people who had been unemployed and claiming unemployment benefit for more than half a year. Not only will they be offered advice, encouragement and support but there will be financial support too.

After all this though there is still one big misconception and that is the skills of an entrepreneur are not taught but occur naturally. This probably comes from the lack of enterprise education available in the past and in essence entrepreneurs were self taught. Yes people will have a flare for certain aspects of business over others but all these aspects can be developed and nurtured within an individual. The application of these skill sets will vary and that’s what sets people apart! However the attributes of being smart and working hard generally works over any other combination, except as many a successful entrepreneur will tell you, the attribute of being lucky.

The world of business changes rapidly and entrepreneurs see this too. The internet is making the world smaller and smaller by the day, almost one market (well one opportunity) and entrepreneurs are seeing their opportunities going Global quicker. As Peter Jones says have a vision, be confident, be results orientated, take action, use your influence and don’t underestimate your capabilities.