In a world where anyone with a phone and bank account can set up a business, has the word ‘entrepreneur’ changed its meaning and do we need a different approach to enterprise support as a result?
Here in the UK it has never been easier to set up and run a business. Whether you’re part of the gig economy, running a limited company or working as a sole trader, the barriers to entry are incredibly low.
However, here is a more modern take on the concept from Investopedia: “Entrepreneurship is when an individual who has an idea, acts on that idea - usually to disrupt the current market with a new product or service.
"Entrepreneurship usually starts as a small business but the long-term vision is much greater, to seek high profits and capture market share with an innovative new idea.”
Another definition compares the significant difference between an entrepreneur and a businessman. “An entrepreneur comes up with a unique concept or idea, while a businessman sets up a business as a new entrant in an existing market on industrial or commercial grounds.”
So does it really matter what you’re called - be it entrepreneur, businessperson, solopreneur, self-employed, side hustler, freelancer, mumpreneur or gig worker? I think it does, as all of these people will have completely different needs, visions, skillsets, ways of thinking and motivations.
And whilst many of these people will want to wear these titles as badges of honour, others will simply get on with trying to make a living in an increasingly complicated and uncertain economy.
In today’s world you’re going to get some people who are incredibly ambitious or driven purely by profit, many will be neuro diverse, others will want to protect the planet and there will be those who just want a lifestyle business or something that fits into a busy family schedule.
The one thing they all have in common is that they are earning their own money and, to a greater or lesser extent, are in control of their own career path.
As a result, enterprise support needs to be both person-centred and holistic to accommodate their different aspirations, challenges and dreams. Gone are the days of simply looking at a company P&L and making comments about sales targets.
The modern adviser needs to possess a range of tools ranging from empathy to digital metrics and from pricing strategies to understanding carbon footprints.
Most of all, they should be there to help people realise whatever ambition they had when they first set out on the journey away from full-time employment.
Perhaps then, we need a system of enterprise support that is itself entrepreneurial?