The Businessmen of yesteryears v/s Entrepreneurs of Today

Who is an Entrepreneur today?

Is he someone who raised millions of dollars in funding and is running a loss-making business or is he someone who has invested the last penny in their savings to fund their dream?

The word entrepreneur is so common today that the ones who call themselves businesswoman or businessman are just considered the poor cousins of “Entrepreneur”.

They are so old school and so out of fashion.

Everyone you meet today with a business or a business model or an idea want themselves addressed as “Entrepreneur”. Call them Businessman and they refuse to be acknowledged.

To find the difference between the word businessman and entrepreneur, I googled and then enrolled in a few business courses for entrepreneurs to get the right answer.

Did I get the answer?

No. I did not get the answer. Instead, I got the answer after speaking to a young entrepreneur who made me realize which part of the entrepreneurship – businessmen category did I fall under.

How did he do that?

Keep reading to find the answer 😊.

These days, I am amused when I see the entrepreneurs of today introduce themselves with prefixes attached to the word entrepreneur. The result is always a designation that is confusing and hilarious.

However, I have learned to live in the world of “entrepreneurs”. Today, I link their introduction to the stage of their entrepreneurship.

They way they introduce themselves also helps me figure out their personality.

  • A Budding Entrepreneur is an entrepreneur who is trying to stay afloat. They are in round one of the bouts.
  • The Entrepreneur is someone who has the swag. They are usually the ones who have raised a huge round of funding and are buzzing with confidence to take down the world.
  • Serial Entrepreneur: No comments! I am still figuring out the right purpose behind the definition”.
  • On my way to becoming an Entrepreneur (now that’s a long one): They usually are about to quit their job or have been deciding to quit their job for the last few years only to be tempted back with the perks of a well-paying job.

They are still fighting their employee vs entrepreneur mindset battles.

When I was young, the word entrepreneur was relatively an unknown term (it seems like ages since someone called me young).

Also, unheard were words like startup, startup, disruption, out of box business models, etc, etc.

It’s not that ideas and innovations weren’t happening. They did happen. In fact, the year I passed out Orkut was still finding its feet.

Similarly, other ventures were too finding methods to disrupt the market.

The only difference was how simple things were earlier.

There was no show-off. Businesses smartly and swiftly evolved with the competition but no one spoke about how they are disrupting the market or how the out of box ideas generated by them are going to kill the world.

We only had one guy who was changing the way the world listened to music, used phones, used PCs.

Steve Jobs was the man every business owner looked up to. He was well ahead of his times and was beating the competition black and blue with his out of box ideas.

He was the “true businessman” we all looked up to. Businessman with a lot of successful ideas and a profitable business model.

In those times, all we were taught was to look at our financial numbers and build a simple yet sustainable business model.

Raising funds, selling a stake, raising money, etc did happen but it happened without any fuss.

Youngsters did get rich (courtesy: IT MNCs offering lucrative package) but no one got as rich as the Uber guy or WeWork guy (though both the entrepreneurs left their companies in poor health, they did make a killing for themselves).

And these are the guys are the ones who epitomize the entrepreneurs of today. They are the “role models”.

Our role models were Dhirubhai Ambani and Bill Gates.

I recently started a new venture which is incidentally a conventional business. The new business which is an online entrepreneurial resource website is a simple website with a clear cut business model.

Now the other day, I was explaining the business model to a youngster and the first question he asked me was “Is your venture a startup?”.

I am back to being the entrepreneur who is starting a startup from scratch. Oh, wait! Am I an entrepreneur or a business owner as per today’s standards?

The question got me thinking and I went one by one over what we were doing:

  • Like all my earlier ventures, this venture too is bootstrapped.
  • I am working on a concept which I think will lead to a stable income.
  • I am working around the clock. Even on Sundays giving free webinars to students who might be interested in training with us.
  • We are doing all the groundwork with the team. Marketing, sales, operations, finance. You name it and I am doing it now, multitasking from morning to evening.
  • Working with a target in mind. Since we are bootstrapping, I have a set target (time and money) in mind to meet the target.

If the above list is the list to qualify me for being the new generation entrepreneur. I think I did qualify for the list.

So whatever I listed above, I said it “as it is” to the young entrepreneur and he looked at me for a while and then answered – you are not an entrepreneur, you are an old school business owner.

This is where I understood the difference between the conventional business owners of yesteryears and entrepreneurs of today.

The entrepreneurs of today want to succeed fast or fail faster. On the other hand, business owners of yesteryears wanted to build businesses that could stand the thick and thin times.

To date, I have been a part of multiple ventures (a mix of success and failureS) but since I have never raised funds or not taken a multi-million dollar exit, I still am not the serial entrepreneur they show on TV or publish in newspapers.

Yet, I feel proud of being a conventional business owner who has only failed with my money and the money of my partners – saving myself the ignominy of failing with someone else’s money (read: investors money).

Now, how boring is that?

Before I end, how about we go back to our original question “Who is an Entrepreneur and what is entrepreneurship today?”

and What is entrepreneurship in Business? (I am mixing both)

An Entrepreneur according to me is someone who can visualize the future with a vision and realistic plan to meet the dream.

An entrepreneur is someone who has the right attributes to build an everlasting enterprise which evolves with times. An entrepreneur is also someone who knows from day one, the odds will be stacked against him and he will be expected to be relentless and passionate to overcome the hurdles.

Lastly, an entrepreneur is someone who really starts a startup with goals that are achievable and are in no way linked to raising funds from day one of a startup.

As per Wikipedia “the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” is defined as entrepreneurship”.

For me, Entrepreneurship is the spirit of being an entrepreneur.

As I always tell the new generation entrepreneurs, Startups should bootstrap.

Entrepreneurs should build a viable business model and then raise funds else they will be simply adding to the list of famous failed companies in India which keeps increasing with every passing year.

For some reason, they find me an old school and move on in their pursuit to “raise funds”, spend a fortune to grow fast and then fail faster.

No doubt – I prefer to be old school entrepreneur.

About the author:

Jasmeet is a founder of Lessons at Startup – A blog where he shares entrepreneurial stories. He specialises in Digital Marketing and Content Writing. He is addicted to Google News, Netflix, Good Coffee and Quora ☺.