What IS an Entrepreneur?

It’s quite interesting to hear the varied answers we get to the question, “What is an Entrepreneur?”

We hear words like passionate, risk-taker, and everything in between. What we’ve realized through our work is that although you could describe an entrepreneur as whatever it is you want it to be, there are some basic fundamentals that entrepreneurs need to possess.

Beyond the skill sets that we might use to describe an entrepreneur, the most critical aspect is the mindset of seeing an opportunity or a problem and seeking a rewarding way to solve it. We don’t mean, necessarily, rewarding in regards to money, but rewarding from the standpoint of a sense of accomplishment.

The entrepreneur’s mindset can help shift the people working around them. What interests us is that when we put that question out there — “What is an entrepreneur?” — the answers come based on the biases of the person who believes he or she knows the answer. We’ve seen entrepreneurs who are great managers, and some that are terrible at management. We’ve seen great entrepreneurs who are masters of time management, and some totally lacking time-management skills.

The one thing they all share, meanwhile is this: They have the mindset of seeing a problem or opportunity, and finding a way to take advantage of the opportunity or solve the problem.

Thus, it’s important to put our biases aside as we judge entrepreneurs beyond simply thinking, do they have the experience, do they have the right terminology, do they really know what they are doing, do they understand this or that? Instead, we should focus on whether they see an opportunity and seek to solve it. If so, then we may be able to help them or assist them in the creation of their business. And yes, occasionally that could mean it is a not-for-profit organization, rather than a money-making methodology. It could also be that the person is an employee and just realized they created a solution for their company.

We need to make sure that they have a reality check or make sure they understand that their imagination of what an entrepreneur and the reality are quite different.

This could help economic development agencies or entrepreneurship ecosystem developers or supporters to ensure that the entrepreneurs they attract receive the attention and education they need to ensure that they understand what it takes to take their company to launch.


We see our blogs as opportunities for dialogue. Please share your thoughts as comments.

1. How do you define an entrepreneur?

2. Put aside your biases and understand what it really takes to start or grow a business

3. What resources or tools have you used to ensure your successful journey?


Faris Alami is Founder and CEO of International Strategic Management, Inc. (ISM). He works internationally, presenting Exploring Entrepreneurship Workshops and other entrepreneurial ecosystem — related ventures.

Faris Alami