What’s the Difference Between a Business Owner vs. Entrepreneur?
From focusing on sales to the amount of passion someone feels, here are 11 answers to the question, “What are some major differences between a business owner and an entrepreneur?”
- Pragmatism vs. Ideology
- Restarting vs. Sticking Around
- Assuming Ownership vs. Starting a Business
- Bigger Goals vs. Shorter Horizons
- Existing Paths vs. Trailblazing
- Efficiency vs. Creativity
- Starting a System vs. Leaving for Growth
- Playing It Safe vs. Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
- Maturity vs. Dabbling
- Tortoise vs. Hare
- Dating vs. Marriage
Pragmatism vs. Ideology
A business owner runs the day-to-day operations of a company. There’s no flash or flair to it. Their job is simply to keep things moving while maintaining profits.
An entrepreneur, by comparison, wants the world to know about the company. They want everyone to know what the company does and how it makes an impact—whether on the individual or on the world. There is something more ideological about entrepreneurs, while business owners are more pragmatic.
I don’t want to reduce this to a stereotype, but the fundamental difference between running a business and being an entrepreneur is that the latter shows more spirit and optimism. An entrepreneur sells people on the brand. A business owner just keeps the engine running.
Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder, Pocketbook Agency
Restarting vs. Sticking Around
An entrepreneur loves the process of starting, building, and restarting. They are less interested in building something substantial than they are in building something. Business owners, however, are more likely to love the specific business they created. They want to see their specific business grow and are more likely to stick with that effort for a longer duration.
Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity
Assuming Ownership vs. Starting a Business
A person can become a business owner by creating their own new firm, buying an existing one, or assuming ownership of it. If a family business’s former owner departs and leaves the responsibility to another eligible member of the family, a new business owner might be appointed.
Since entrepreneurs build their individual businesses from scratch, they are typically in charge of overseeing every facet of a firm from the very beginning. An entrepreneur can choose to start an organization at any time, and until they assume control, the business doesn’t really belong to anyone else.
Samantha Odo, Real Estate Expert and Chief Operating Officer, Precondo
Bigger Goals vs. Shorter Horizons
Entrepreneurs typically have bigger goals than most business owners—they want to grow the company quickly and often focus on expansion plans that involve launching in multiple countries or entering new markets.
On the other hand, many business owners focus on shorter horizons, such as staying afloat for another year or two. While entrepreneurs and business owners both want to make money, entrepreneurs have bigger ambitions than simply profit.
These goals can range from creating a product that revolutionizes an industry to becoming a philanthropist. Business owners rarely have these lofty objectives; instead, they focus on successfully running their businesses.
Todd Saunders, General Manager, BIG Safety
Existing Paths vs. Trailblazing
Business owners and entrepreneurs differ in their approach to running a business. A business owner typically operates an existing business model. They may focus on improving efficiencies, expanding their customer base, or streamlining operations, but they generally work within a general framework and proven parameters. To further illustrate the issue, business owners are, for example, anyone deciding to open a store belonging to a chain or franchise.
In contrast, entrepreneurs focus more on creating and developing a new business than simply running and growing an existing one. They are trailblazers who thrive on the thrill of innovation. They want to create something entirely new, often intending to revolutionize an entire industry. Entrepreneurs are driven by a vision for a new product, service, or market opportunity and are willing to take risks, make bold moves, and challenge the status quo. As a result, they disrupt existing business models or industries.
Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Resume Now
Efficiency vs. Creativity
The primary difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur lies in the approach and mindset of each. A business owner is typically more conservative, focusing on creating value within an existing system or framework. This often involves taking calculated risks, protecting their investments, and expanding incrementally.
On the other hand, an entrepreneur exhibits a more daring attitude and is motivated by ideas and possibilities rather than security. They focus on spotting opportunities that have yet to exist and developing them into products or services that stand out from the competition.
The goal of a business owner may be simply to generate revenue for themselves or their company, whereas an entrepreneur is typically driven by more ambitious goals, such as finding solutions to problems, growing markets, and making actual changes in people’s lives.
Jamie Irwin, Director, Straight Up Search
Starting a System vs. Leaving for Growth
To me, the difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner is systems. We all start as entrepreneurs; we have a business idea and we start our own company. Sometimes, in the beginning, we’re even doing all the things.
As you grow, you develop systems in your business; put plans into place so that you, the person who started the business, is no longer needed to run and do the day-to-day of the business. Essentially, your business can run by itself; you’ve taken yourself out of the equation and are allowing for growth. And to me, that is the biggest difference between the two.
Jenny Belanger, CEO and Creative Director, JennyB Designs
Playing It Safe vs. Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
For business, there’s a difference between playing it safe and taking a walk on the wild side. That’s where the age-old debate between business owners and entrepreneurs comes in.
Business owners are the steady Eddies of the corporate world—they’re all about maintaining the status quo, maximizing profits, and minimizing risks. Think of them as the accountant with a pocket protector, sensible shoes, and a love for spreadsheets.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are the free spirits of the business world. They’re all about taking risks, embracing the unknown, and disrupting the market with something truly unique. Think of them as the mad scientist with a wild hairdo, a twinkle in their eye, and a garage full of prototypes.
They both are important for driving economic growth and innovation, but they couldn’t be more different in their mindset and approach.
Kartik Ahuja, Founder, Attention Always
Maturity vs. Dabbling
Entrepreneurs dabble in many lucrative activities, but rarely achieve the scale needed in a business. They also prefer to rely on their skills over delegating to others.
Conversely, business owners recognize the level of commitment and impact they have on their staff and families. The stress of making payroll and keeping the doors open differs vastly from that of a solo creator promoting a product on TikTok.
Entrepreneurs are the first step to becoming a business owner. And it’s not to say there aren’t successful entrepreneurs out there, but they exist on a spectrum of business maturity and readiness to scale.
Joe Manna, Founder, Manna Digital
Tortoise vs. Hare
Well, let me tell you, it’s all about mindset and approach. A business owner is typically focused on maintaining stability and generating a steady stream of income, while an entrepreneur is all about taking risks and pushing boundaries to disrupt and rock the boat!
It’s like the tortoise and the hare: the business owner is the tortoise, taking slow and steady steps, while the entrepreneur is the hare, taking bold leaps and calculated risks. It’s up to you to determine which path to take based on your goals, risk tolerance, and passion for innovation. So, are you a tortoise or a hare? The choice is yours.
Bobby Turner, Content Manager, Matt Haycox Group
Dating vs. Marriage
A business owner and an entrepreneur share a lot of similarities. Both have the desire to build something, have ideas the world needs to hear, and crave success.
Business owners, however, tend to dig their heels into the business. They are there for the long haul, the marriage, per se. Business owners create organizational structures and succession plans.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are idea-generating machines; they soak blood, sweat, and tears into growing something so they can sell it and move on to their next idea. Basically, they date the businesses they create until the newness tingle wears off. Then, it’s time to cash out and start over with a new idea so they can feel that spark again.
Both roles hold a valuable place in the business world. One takes risks and generates idea after idea, while the other cultivates and grows something from a seed, building jobs and generational wealth.
Nichole Chapais, Owner, Stargazer Creative®