Entrepreneur Definition

By Martin Gilliard

A good entrepreneur definition to begin with is that put forward by Oxford Dictionary… “A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”

Derives from French

Entrepreneur derives from French. It can be split into two parts. The first part is ‘entre’ which literally translates to ‘under’. The second part relates to ‘prendre’ which means to take. Putting the two parts together it translates to ‘under-take’.

entrepreneur definition

(Photo Credit: Jon Lee Clark)

To undertake something means to commit oneself to and begin an enterprise or to take on a responsibility.

So it basically means a person who undertakes the risk of a new enterprise.


In English if you add ship to the end of a word it indicates quality, state, status, skill, or collective body. So entrepreneurship is the process or skill of beginning a new enterprise or responsibility.

What Does and Entrepreneur Do?

I think it’s also important to say a little about what exactly an entrepreneur actually does. An entrepreneur is someone who spots new opportunities. Someone who comes up with new ideas for products, processes or services to respond to a customer need. But also, someone who is able to successfully introduce these new ideas into the market.

Entrepreneurs are individuals that make the innovation process actually happen. They are often able to do this regardless of the obstacles that are put in front of them.

Most successful innovations arise from the identification of opportunities. Innovations rarely come by chance, more often than not they come as a result of deliberate and purposeful search. 

Entrepreneurs are quick to act on opportunities that are presented to them. Such opportunities could arise from a number of areas, including 

  • demographic changes such as a change in consumer demand - such as that from an ageing population. 
  • Technological advancements - New technologies can often bring new markets to complement or support the technology.
  • New knowledge - this could relate to new knowledge about new technology such as the point raised above or even new knowledge in relation to a new business process or a new way of performing or making a process work better.
  • Market demand for improved or better products within a particular domain.

Other Entrepreneur Definitions 

Webster defines an entrepreneur as "one who organizes and directs a business undertaking assuming risk for the sake of the profit."

David Shaw's definition in his article Entrepreneurs...Winning Strategies Aside in the Ivey Business Journal is as follows, "An entrepreneur implements ideas, concepts or processes in operating ventures and promotes them to achieve their growth potential."

Peter F. Drucker defines an entrepreneur as one who always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity. Innovation is the tool of the entrepreneur which they use to exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or service.

To finish, Shane and Venkataraman put forward an excellent definition… “The scholarly examination of how, by whom, and with what effects, opportunities to create future goods and services are discovered, evaluated, and exploited. Consequently, the field involves the study of the sources of opportunities; the processes of discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities; and the set of individuals who discover, evaluate, and exploit them.

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