Are you an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner?

Sep 8, 2015, Written by Sue Miley

Entrepreneur vs. Small Business Owner

If you are an entrepreneur running a small business, how would you answer this question…

What is your least favorite part of your business?

Many of you may think about what other entrepreneurs would say.

…dealing with customer problems.

…handling and facing conflict.

…paying the bills and managing cash flow.


The list could be endless regarding a piece of our business that we don’t enjoy, however, over the past 10 years there is one answer that comes up regularly…almost as a confession.

It would never immediately come out as an answer to the question.

Remember, entrepreneurs like to start things.  They are about action and movement…innovation and growth.  Entrepreneurs tend to have a lot of ideas and want to go after them.  It’s funny, but I did a Google search of the traits of entrepreneurs and the first three were also separate articles written and published at

  1. 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
  2. The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs
  3. 10 Traits All Successful Entrepreneurs Share

In all of these articles concerning traits of the successful entrepreneur, the things listed above that some small business owners say are their least favorite part of business are actually all traits of successful entrepreneurs.

They don’t mind working on the business!

They are created to build and run businesses.

The one thing that I have heard sheepishly come from the entrepreneur’s mouth, and that is actually boldly absent from these articles, is…..

I don’t really like to do the work of, or in, my business.

I have a growing service business and I like developing strategies to get more business and to cast my vision of what the business will be, but I don’t want to get bogged down in actual day-to-day operations.

I am a lawyer and I don’t mind getting the business and discussing what the client needs, but I don’t really like doing the legal work.

I want to open a chain of successful [fill in the blank] but I don’t want to run any of them.

I want to have my own accounting firm, but I don’t want to do the accounting.

The Difference

There is a difference in a small business owner and an entrepreneur.  It may seem subtle in the eyes of a lay person, but when you get up close, you see a distinct difference.

The entrepreneur wants to start, build, and work ON the business.

The small business owner wants to focus and work IN the business creating a vision for their craft that can be implemented daily.

By definition, small business owners continue to run small businesses.

Entrepreneurs can grow businesses into large entities that go public or are sold to another.

Entrepreneurs may start several businesses and enjoy the juggling of them all.

So, what are you…an entrepreneur or a small business owner?

If you look in the mirror and see an entrepreneur looking back, then don’t shy away from your true nature.  State boldly back to your reflection, my work is starting and growing my business, not working in it.

With the confession out of the way, go do what every smart entrepreneur does…go hire the best team available to do the work and achieve the vision you have for your business!

Reader Interactions


  1. Reginald Chan says

    Hi Sue,

    Very interesting article you got here. Love the “in” or “on” part (towards the end).

    At first, it sounds a little hard to understanding but if you take the time to dig into it, everything comes perfectly into pieces.

    Good job in sharing and appreciate it!

    Just shared on Triberr by the way 😀

    • Sue Miley says

      Hi Reginald. I do think I sort of meandered in this one….thanks for sticking it out to the end. I think I was writing in the moment of my reflection of the two. Thanks so much too for sharing it on Triberr! Blessings, Sue

  2. Paul Forsberg says

    Great article.
    I teach people how to buy, build and sell businesses and you hit the nail on the head.
    80% of the people who hire me to coach them want to be Entrepreneurs and not business owners.
    It’s actually how I became a coach – I like building the business then selling them.
    Helping and teaching people how to do it gives me the all the “good-stuff” without having to sell and start again.

    Great work – thanks.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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