By: Jaime Sutton, Tech Ranch

When I was asked to write a blog post for SCORE Entrepreneurship Month I thought it would be interesting to discuss the difference between small business owners and entrepreneurs. However, as I started thinking about what these two terms meant in reality, there was no clear distinction or line in the sand in my mind or the minds of those around me. There are many words within our space that get overused, worn out and even used in the wrong way – entrepreneur, startup, small business, funding, incubator, accelerator . So I started to wonder, who actually gets to decide the true definition of these seemingly loosely defined terms?

jaime sutton blog pic 1 defines an entrepreneur as, “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” This sounds great, but is it true?

I decided to leverage (there is another one!) the community that I love to talk about, Tech Ranch, to gain clarity on what it means to be an entrepreneur. I took to Facebook and Twitter, walked around the co-working space and solicited advice from my own mentors and advisors. The responses were great, ranging from academic to inspirational.


The Academics:

The Entrepreneur…

…is predisposed to action,

…enjoys investigating & innovating,

…experiences learning as a way of life,

…tolerates ambiguity,

…is a (controlled) risk-taker,

…and is able to put vision into practice,

…while remaining very much in the present

                William KeyserStartupOwl and MBA Entrepreneurship lecturer

A good business person who is willing to jump out of a plane in flight.

                Rob Adams, Director of Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at UT Austin

Someone who is brave enough to forge ahead, even when the path is unclear and the future uncertain.

                Brandi Eppolito, University of Texas MSTC Program

jaime sutton blog pic 2

Current Entrepreneurs:

Entrepreneurs are people who find needs – ANY NEEDS – and fill it. They like to solve problems even if they’re the only one in the world who has it.

                Amado GuloyRex Animal Health

The person who’d rather ask forgiveness than permission.

Andrew AllenAgileLaw

Someone who finds a problem that he thinks he can solve and monetize. Then gets obsessed/optimistic enough to overcome obstacles and execute it. Fails mostly, but brushes it off and moves on to the next problem…J

                Arjun Gupta, Investment Banking Specialist at the International Accelerator

A person who never gives up. When forced to, they start something new with the same enthusiasm.

                Erik Hausmann, re:3D

Our Intern, Jake Smith (Go Blackbirds)! (He really thought this through):

  1. Someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity. Entrepreneurs are those who identify a problem and work to fix it regardless of the possibility of failure.
  2. Someone that builds the world they want to live in.
  3. A leader of excellence, trailblazer and pioneer who constantly brings change to their generation.


International Contacts:

The person who is just crazy. However, normal people never change the world.

Hironori Miyauchi, The Japan Research Institute, Ltd.


An entrepreneur is an innovator who spots an opportunity based on unmet or underserved market needs and develops a high-growth company to take advantage of that opportunity.

Rob Warren, The Mean Eyed Cat Accelerator, Winnipeg, Canada


And of course, SCORE’s very own Celia Bell:

Entrepreneur is a state of mind and a person with certain characteristics. I think you can be an entrepreneur within a biz.

Some of the driving characteristics are: self-confidence, innovative, persistent, takes initiative, can make decisions and self-motivated.


So, what can we take away from all this? There seem to be some trends: risk, patience, drive and motivation. Although…aren’t these the characteristics of anyone who is looking to take the next step? Whether it is starting a new business or moving to a new city, if you are taking the first step in a new direction then I consider you an entrepreneur. Join Tech Ranch, a community of entrepreneurs, as we encourage people everywhere to take that first step.



About The Author

After working for one long year at a Fortune 500 after completing her BBA in Marketing from McCombs, Jaime decided to return to Austin and help a local education technology startup grow, scale and realize their full potential. From that day forward she was an entrepreneur, developing her expertise through the study of opportunity identification, investment best practices and entrepreneurial growth in the McCombs full-time MBA program, working as a fellow for the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Accelerator at UT and now bringing her skills to the Tech Ranch community. Through her years of experience Jaime has done marketing, program development, communications, operations and business development for a number of local startups. She is also an avid yogi and advocate for gluten-free living.

Definitions of an Entrepreneur [ahn-truh-pruh-noo r]