The Distinction Between Business Owner and Entrepreneur
10 years ago

Imagine a business owner and a entrepreneur walking together down a path along a riverbank.

As they’re walking they see across the river this gorgeous Eden, this Mecca.  Both of them are going to see opportunity over there and both of them will likely say, “We should build a bridge.”

But here’s the difference.

The Business Owner

The business owner goes and does what a business owner does.  First he tries to put together a plan and then he tries to get the architects together and source the materials and start to build and all of that.  What happens for the business owner that sees it in that way is if some problem comes, the money isn’t right, the materials start caving in, something happens, the bridge collapses, they go, “Well, sorry.  This opportunity failed,” and “I’ll move onto the next one.” or “It doesn’t pencil out.  We ran out of money”, whatever it was, and that’s the business owner’s standpoint.

The Entrepreneur

Now let’s look at the entrepreneur.  To me, the role or identity of an entrepreneur is that an entrepreneur literally becomes the bridge.  You and what you do becomes the same thing.  There’s such an overlap that it’s not a compartmentalized thing that, “during 9 to 5 I work and I’m a CEO of a company and the rest of the time I’m something else.”

You literally become the bridge, so what happens when the architect doesn’t give the right material or the money runs out.  It doesn’t matter.  When you meet an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter.

They say, “This is where I’m going.  This is what I’m doing.  This is who I am”, because they’ve become the bridge.  It’s still there.  You can literally still get across because they are literally becoming part of it and I think identity plays that kind of key role.

You Are The Bridge

Now, I’m not suggesting that you identify as an entrepreneur.  In fact, wanting to identify as an entrepreneur is probably going to do you more harm than good at any stage because then you want to think of yourself as successful, which is going to get in the way of doing the things you need to do to be successful, like clean the toilets.

You identify as the solution to the customer’s need.  I am the bridge.  I am the ability to cross this water and so if the bridge doesn’t work, I’m going to try a rope swing, and if a rope swing doesn’t work, I’m going to create an airline company.

I am that which crosses this river.  I’m not the method by which we cross.  I am the ability to cross.  So it’s identifying with that.

The entrepreneurs that I’ve met that are successful don’t have it that this is this project that they do.  They have it that they are it.  It’s part of who they are and that decompartmentalization is what gives you the energy to drive the motivation, the magnetism, the influence.


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