An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and is accountable for the inherent risks and the outcome. The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome. Jean-Baptiste Say, a French economist, is believed to have coined the word "entrepreneur" in the 19th century - he defined an entrepreneur as "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour".
The entrepreneur leads the firm or organisation and also demonstrates leadership qualities by selecting managerial staff. Management skill and strong team building abilities are essential leadership attributes for successful entrepreneurs. Scholar Robert. B. Reich considers leadership, management ability, and team-building as essential qualities of an entrepreneur. This concept has its origins in the work of Richard Cantillon in his Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en (1755) and Jean-Baptiste Say (1803 or 1834) in his Treatise on Political Economy.
Entrepreneurs emerge from the population on demand, and become leaders because they perceive opportunities available and are well-positioned to take advantage of them. An entrepreneur may perceive that they are among the few to recognize or be able to solve a problem. Joseph Schumpeter saw the entrepreneur as innovators and popularized the uses of the phrase creative destruction to describe his view of the role of entrepreneurs in changing business norms. Creative destruction encompasses changes entrepreneurial activity makes every time a new process, product or company enters the market.
The most significant influence on an individual's decision to become an entrepreneur is workplace peers and the social composition of the workplace. Entrepreneurs also often possess innate traits such as extroversion and a propensity for risk-taking. According to Schumpeter, an entrepreneur characteristically innovates, introduces new technologies, increases efficiency, productivity, or generates new products or services. An entrepreneur acts as a catalyst for economic change and research indicates that entrepreneurs are highly creative individuals who imagine new solutions by generating opportunities for profit or reward.
There is a complexity and lack of cohesion between research studies that explore the characteristics and personality traits of, and influences on, the entrepreneur. Most studies, however, agree that there are certain entrepreneurial traits and environmental influences that tend to be consistent. Although certain entrepreneurial traits are required, entrepreneurial behaviours are dynamic and influenced by environmental factors. Shane and VenKataraman (2000) argue the entrepreneur is solely concerned with opportunity recognition and exploitation; however, the opportunity that is recognised depends on the type of entrepreneur which Ucbasaran et al. (2001) argue there are many different types dependent on their business and personal circumstances.
Psychological studies show that the psychological propensities for male and female entrepreneurs are more similar than different. Perceived gender differences may be due more to gender stereotyping. There is a growing body of work that shows that entrepreneurial behavior is dependent on social and economic factors. For example, countries which have healthy and diversified labor markets or stronger safety nets show a more favorable ratio of opportunity driven rather than necessity-driven women entrepreneurs. Empirical studies suggest that women entrepreneurs possess strong negotiating skills and consensus-forming abilities.
New research regarding the qualities required for successful entrepreneurship is ongoing, with work from the Kauffman Institute forming the statistical basis for much of it.
A Social entrepreneur is motivated by a desire to help, improve and transform social, environmental, educational and economic conditions. Key traits and characteristics of highly effective social entrepreneurs include ambition and a lack of acceptance of the status quo or accepting the world "as it is". The social entrepreneur is driven by an emotional desire to address some of the big social and economic conditions in the world, for example, poverty and educational deprivation, rather than by the desire for profit. Social entrepreneurs seek to develop innovative solutions to global problems that can be copied by others to enact change.
Social entrepreneurs act within a market aiming to create social value through the improvement of goods and services offered to the community. Their main aim is to help offer a better service improving the community as a whole and are predominately run as non profit schemes. Zahra et al. (2009: 519) said that “social entrepreneurs make significant and diverse contributions to their communities and societies, adopting business models to offer creative solutions to complex and persistent social problems”.
A serial entrepreneur is one who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses. In the media, the serial entrepreneur is represented as possessing a higher propensity for risk, innovation and achievement. Serial entrepreneurs are more likely to experience repeated entrepreneurial success. They are more likely to take risks and recover from business failure.
A lifestyle entrepreneur places passion before profit when launching a business in order to combine personal interests and talent with the ability to earn a living. Many entrepreneurs may be primarily motivated by the intention to make their business profitable in order to sell to shareholders. In contrast, a lifestyle entrepreneur intentially chooses a business model intended to develop and grow their business in order to make a long-term, sustainable and viable living working in a field where they have a particular interest, passion, talent, knowledge or high degree of expertise. A lifestyle entrepreneur may decide to become self-employed in order to achieve greater personal freedom, more family time and more time working on projects or business goals that inspire them. A lifestyle entrepreneur may combine a hobby with a profession or they may specifically decide not to expand their business in order to remain in control of their venture. Common goals held by the lifestyle entrepreneur include earning a living doing something that they love, earning a living in a way that facilitates self-employment, achieving a good work/life balance and owning a business without shareholders. Many lifestyle entrepreneurs are very dedicated to their business and may work within the creative industries or tourism industry, where a passion before profit approach to entrepreneurship often prevails. While many entrepreneurs may launch their business with a clear exit strategy, a lifestyle entrepreneur may deliberately and consciously choose to keep their venture fully within their own control. Lifestyle entrepreneurship is becoming increasing popular as technology provides small business owners with the digital platforms needed to reach a large global market.