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Business Owner vs. Entrepreneur

business ownerSeveral years ago, I read a great article by Dean Wesley Smith on how not to shoot yourself in the foot as a self-published writer, and one of the points he made was on the difference between an author and a writer. In his words, “Authors are people who have written and are always looking backward at what they wrote. Writers are people who write and look forward at what they are writing and what they want to write next.”

I saw a similarity between his definitions of author/writer, and my definitions of entrepreneur and business owner. Let me share.

By the way, I’m not talking about hobbyist business owners here. You know the type. They talk about “owning a business” but they don’t do much business planning or effective marketing. It’s a hobby for them. They are another category that doesn’t fit in this post.

Let’s start with the business owner. They do solid business planning. They have a marketing plan in place, and they follow it. They offer a good product or service and people are happy to talk about and refer them. They are like the author who wrote a good book and is out there promoting it.

What about the entrepreneur? They are always thinking ahead. They generally have the big ideas and a vision for how to implement them. They may fail, and even fail often, but they pick themselves up and try again. When they finally make it big, they have some history behind them and lots of ideas to share. They are like the writers who like and promote their past books but are always thinking about and writing the next book.

Is one better than the other? Not really. Business owners can be very successful. They are frequently solid members of their community, the people you can rely on for anything from money for a local cause to volunteering to organize a small business conference.

Entrepreneurs tend to be more volatile. I’m not saying they aren’t good people, but they are living more in the future than the business owner. When they succeed, they usually do it in a bigger way. (Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs anyone?) They are idea people with big visions and the determination and creativity to make their vision reality. They may not be comfortable people to be around, but they make for a fun ride.

What’s the purpose of this post? To have you look at yourself. Which are you? How would other people describe you? Is that who you want to be? Are you a business owner secretly dreaming of being an entrepreneur? What’s stopping you? Are you an entrepreneur who longs for a bit more stability? What keeps you on that roller coaster?

Smith made his opinion of author vs writer pretty clear. I don’t think it’s as obvious with business owner vs entrepreneur, but I’ve known enough people who were one while wanting to be the other that I think it’s a question worth asking yourself.

Me, I’m a writer and a business owner and pretty darned content with both.

How about you?

Image credit: Flickr user kosmolaut under a Creative Commons license

  • I love your analogy between the two. When I think business owner – I do think stability and constant. And when someone says entrepreneur I do think innovative and always changing until they get it right or to fit the current needs.

    Funny enough, I write and call myself a writer but as I get feedback on my first published book I feel a bit pride and sometimes slip into an author.

    • admin

      @Joanne, glad you liked the analogy. Thanks! And nothing wrong with a bit of pride, as long as you keep writing on the next book. And the next one… And keep trying to get better. Kris Rusch says to always write the best book you can today, which should be better than the last book, but it’s reasonable that it won’t be as good as the next. I find that comforting and encouraging.