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What is an Entrepreneur? - Definition, Characteristics & Examples

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  • 0:08 Entrepreneurs - Risk Takers
  • 1:16 Examples of Entrepreneurs
  • 2:04 Characteristics & Skills
  • 5:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Entrepreneurship is an important engine of growth in the economy. In this lesson, you'll learn about what an entrepreneur is and the key characteristics and skills that a successful entrepreneur possesses. Some examples of entrepreneurs will also be given.

Entrepreneurs - Risk Takers

Meet Eddie. He's an entrepreneur, which is a person who starts a business. Eddie recently graduated from college with a degree in computer programming and has developed an app that he believes will make him a small fortune. So, instead of working nine to five for a software company in Silicon Valley, he decides to start his own. He wants to challenge himself and work the way he wants to without answering to a boss. He's using a small inheritance to fund the start-up. As an entrepreneur, Eddie is not only starting a business, but is risking his personal wealth to establish it.

Eddie is also trying to convince some friends from school to form an entrepreneurial team with him. An entrepreneurial team is a group of people that help spread out the risk of the new venture and also bring in different talents and skill sets to it. Eddie has a friend who majored in accounting and another who majored in marketing. He's hoping they may come along with him and bring their skills and some cash. If he can build the right team, he can create a synergy, where the group can achieve more together than they can apart.

Examples of Entrepreneurs

Eddie hopes that his entrepreneurial gamble will pay off as well as the gambles of other well-known entrepreneurs, such as:

  • Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. There are probably not many people that have not been touched by one of his products, such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer.
  • Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computers, which produces Macs, iPods and iPhones, as well as Apple TV.
  • Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.
  • Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay.
  • Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, a well-known online news site.
  • Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flikr, which hosts images and videos on the Internet.

Characteristics & Skills

Entrepreneurs are like gamblers, and like any gambler, their chances of winning increase if they have the right cards. Let's look at some characteristics and skills that help an entrepreneur succeed.

A tolerance for risk-taking is a necessary attribute for entrepreneurs. You can think of risk-taking as pursuing an activity even if there is a chance of a negative consequence. Starting a business is risky, and even more so when you're using your own money. Sometimes you can spread the risk by convincing investors to come along on your new venture or by forming an entrepreneurial team, like Eddie is trying to do. But, at the end of the day, you can't avoid risk if you are going to start a new business and innovate.

Entrepreneurs also need creativity. Think about Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg; these two entrepreneurs brought innovative products to the market that changed the way we live. Successful entrepreneurs innovate in one of two ways. They can bring an entirely new product or service to the market, like the first cellular phone. On the other hand, they can radically improve upon something in a dramatic way, just like the iPhone changed the world of smart phones.

Initiative is also required. Entrepreneurs lead. If you are not willing to start without being pushed, your new business will never get off the ground. For example, Eddie had an idea fresh out of college and took the initiative to start his business venture. No one had to convince him to act; he just acted.

Independence is also a paramount attribute for entrepreneurs. Nobody holds an entrepreneur's hand, and they don't want any hand-holding. Successful entrepreneurs must be willing to go it alone and succeed or fail on their own effort without relying much on the other people.

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