What does an entrepreneur do?

A person who launches or owns a business is an entrepreneur. Whether they work in manufacturing, retail, services, or agriculture, entrepreneurs are risk-takers who build successful businesses. They frequently upend existing sectors in the process of pursuing their goals.

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Étienne St-Jean, a professor at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurial Careers, notes that formulating a definite response to the question “What is an entrepreneur?” can be challenging, even beyond this straightforward description.

According to him, some in his industry view an entrepreneur as someone who starts their own company, some will only classify you as an entrepreneur—rather than a business owner—if your company is growing. Still others would only classify you as an entrepreneur if you have begun to pay people.

What does he mean by an entrepreneur? He defines “someone who creates, or owns and manages, a business,” adding that small- and medium-sized business owner-managers, including those who acquired the company from another person, would fall under this category. “You are an entrepreneur as long as you direct the strategic direction of the company.”

Making your own way is a requirement of becoming an entrepreneur. It’s an option for a career. You’ve made the decision not to labor for pay,” St-Jean explains.

What characterizes an entrepreneur?

Many entrepreneurs identify themselves by their passion, tenacity, and resilience, according to BDC economist Isabelle Bouchard, who co-authored a 2019 research on entrepreneurship in Canada. “We found them to be the buzzwords while doing surveys and conversations with business owners. Despite the many difficulties they face, they have such a strong sense that they will succeed because of their enthusiasm.

According to Brian King, a professor at HEC Montréal’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a successful entrepreneur has qualities with high-achieving athletes, journalists, or doctors. “You see all the qualities that propel people to success in an entrepreneur.”

The 2019 BDC research found that approximately three-quarters of people polled were attracted to become entrepreneurs by three additional characteristics: independence, autonomy, and flexibility. It was shown that about 50% of entrepreneurs are motivated by self-fulfillment and passion. Even higher percentages of women and young entrepreneurs—59% and 75%, respectively—cite this.

The survey also found that female and young entrepreneurs are more likely to claim that they are launching their companies in order to have a beneficial impact on society.

King has observed that his student entrepreneurs had this kind of societal motivation: “I know someone who is considering starting a mental health start-up.” They believe that young people have a great urge to assist other young people, not because they want to make a billion dollars.

According to Bouchard, many people who follow their passions are patient enough to wait for their firms to become a profit. “Entrepreneurs are prepared to postpone their investment for a little while longer.”

Part-time business owners

A hybrid or part-time entrepreneur is a person who launches a new business while continuing to work at their prior job. For example, when your new AI start-up is profitable, you may choose to leave your well-paying job as a robotics engineer. Or maybe you’re a new mother taking advantage of your maternity leave to pursue your love for baby shoes, and those initial sales grow into a successful business. These are sometimes referred to as side gigs, part-time ventures, or side companies.

Financially speaking, part-time business owners start from a safer position. Some individuals see their new business as a means of supplementing their income. Some will only desire the additional money from their business endeavors and continue working part-time, according to St-Jean. He cites the example of his friends who started a gin distillery and are seeing good sales after a year and a half of operation. Nonetheless, a few of the partners continue to maintain their day jobs. “They want to make sure the business is doing well before they leave.”

Risk and Entrepreneurship

Starting your own business is not for the weak of heart. As per the BDC study, a third of newly established firms collapse after five years, and just one out of every two enterprises remains operational after ten years.

Why do new companies fail so often? The causes might be microeconomic, like a person who might not be prepared to launch a firm, or macroeconomic, such the dominance of marketplaces by big companies.

St-Jean observes that many aspiring business owners have high expectations, which presents certain issues. Many believe they can work for themselves, have no boss, and earn a lot of money. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg come to mind.

The majority of experts concur that increasing your chances of success when launching a new business involves conducting thorough study beforehand, looking for mentors, assembling a strong team, and accumulating a range of expertise.

Stress and entrepreneurs

According to 75% of entrepreneurs, they struggle with extreme stress and financial instability. A research conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association on behalf of BDC found that the number of people reporting mental health issues is almost three times higher than that of the general population. It has been discovered that female start-up and business owners are more likely to suffer from poor mental health.

Getting a better work-life balance is among the biggest mental health problems that entrepreneurs encounter. In a BDC survey from April 2022, 48% of business owners stated they would want more assistance with work-life balance.

In spite of those figures, 90% reported feeling content with their jobs. When asked about their level of satisfaction with managing their business, their daily motivation, and the advancement of their firm, respondents gave good marks.

St. Jean is aware of the possibility of those two seemingly incompatible emotions coexisting. Although running a small business comes with a lot of stress, he claims that “those who decided to become entrepreneurs are more satisfied because it really fits with their personalities.”

King concurs. “Having to do anything like personally guarantee a loan is difficult. On the other hand, accepting that responsibility brings more fulfillment.

King believes that entrepreneurs face a deeper source of stress. “It’s naturally difficult to change the existing quo. The difficulty is in consistently devising a competitive edge that your rivals are unable to quickly imitate.