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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner: Which One Are You?

Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner: Which One Are You?
Credit: lassedesignen/Shutterstock

You run your own business. How do you describe yourself to others when talking about what you do? Are you a small business owner? An entrepreneur? Or something else? And more importantly, is there really a difference between these terms?

According to the 2015 Small Business Pulse Survey by insurance provider and financial services group The Hartford, business owners say there is a difference — and they don't all want to be called the same thing. The Hartford surveyed 751 owners, partners and principals of small companies (fewer than 100 employees) and discovered that 51 percent call themselves "small business owners" and 18 percent call themselves "entrepreneurs." Another 26 percent prefer the term "business owner," while the remaining 6 percent chose other names like "mom and pop shop owner" or "social entrepreneur."

Younger survey participants were more likely to self-identify as entrepreneurs than their older counterparts: One-quarter of millennial respondents chose the term entrepreneur, compared with just 16 percent of Gen Xers and 15 percent of baby boomers. [What Is Entrepreneurship?]

The Hartford also asked each group about their defining characteristics. Self-described small business owners said they are maintaining their businesses at their current size and adding value to their local communities through their business. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, see themselves as visionaries who are looking to build a legacy for their families. While the two overlapped in the following areas, the survey revealed that more entrepreneurs related to certain statements than did small business owners:

  • I am always looking for the next opportunity: 30 percent of SBOs versus 41 percent of entrepreneurs.
  • I am looking to grow my company significantly: 23 percent of SBOs versus 30 percent of entrepreneurs.
  • I am innovative: 20 percent of SBOs versus 45 percent of entrepreneurs.

Regardless of business owners' preferred titles, there's one driving factor that unites most of them, and that's passion. Fifty-six percent of all respondents (60 percent of SBOs, 44 percent of entrepreneurs) described themselves as doing something they are passionate about or enjoy, and nearly half said they started their business to pursue their passion.

Want to know more about how entrepreneurs feel about their work? Business News Daily asked 15 business leaders and founders what entrepreneurship means to them.

Nicole Fallon Taylor

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

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