Five signs that you are a small business owner and NOT an entrepreneur

I believe that if you experience just a few moments where you know that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing in life – you’ve won.

At first, I didn’t think this fluffy, gushy, and mushy statement was even close to being profound. However, the response on my social media told me different.

It turns out that the essence of entrepreneurship is what that statement is all about. In fact, it is the starting point of what makes the difference between a small business owner and an entrepreneur. Have you ever considered whether you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur? A lot of people haven’t.

In my experience, there are five key signs to telling the difference between a small business owner and a true entrepreneur. And I’ll tell ya, investors and customers can spot the difference just as easily. Here are the five signs that you are a small business owner and NOT an entrepreneur:

1.    You don’t get excited about your customers.

Customers are an entrepreneur’s lifeblood. They represent everything from cash, to credibility, to just plain proving the entrepreneur is good at what they do. True entrepreneurs know that when a customer comes into their life, they’ve got one shot and it better be perfect. Oh, and when it is perfect, it feels REALLY good.

2.    You don’t like talking about your company.

We used to have a rule at the entrepreneurship center I ran. The rule was when an entrepreneur called; we did not ask them about their company, we found out what they needed first. It simply took up too much time to learn about every entrepreneur’s story. Sure, once we figured out what they needed, we made the appointment and they had the chance to tell their story – but not until it was the scheduled time to do so. Entrepreneurs are in love with their company and want everyone else to be in love with it too. A simple request like, “So tell me about your company,” led to 20 minutes of listening on the phone – MINIMUM.

3.    You get defensive when a customer complains.

The best customer is one who gives you feedback about their experience. Any entrepreneur should be hungry for that feedback. If a customer tells an entrepreneur that their website is hard to navigate, they will be sure to ask lots of questions to understand how to make it better. They won’t tell the customer they are stupid or worse yet, wrong. Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve.

4.    You don’t see the bigger picture.

Entrepreneurs are all about growth. Here’s an example. If you are running a dry cleaning shop and have no interest in dreaming about how your shop can change the way the dry cleaning industry works, you are a small business owner. There is nothing wrong with that.  Its just a fact.  An entrepreneur would question the practices and business models of dry cleaning and constantly think about how to make dry cleaning more effective, the process of dry cleaning more efficient, the impact of dry cleaning greener, or even just less expensive. Entrepreneurs want to change the way things are typically done and they aren’t satisfied until they do.

5.    You don’t find meaning in what you do.

This ties it all back to the quote I started this blog with. Entrepreneurs are those wonderful people in the world that believe they are in the world to make something better for someone else. They also strongly believe that what they are doing is worth enough for someone to pay for. Entrepreneurs create a meaningful value exchange in the world. They are also smart enough to build a sustainable business around that value exchange. And they never stop trying to build it and improve it.

So, after reading this, if you find that you are indeed an entrepreneur, I take my hat off to you and applaud your efforts. And the next time someone calls you a small business owner, feel free to correct them.

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