The Lighter Side

Are you an Entrepreneur, or are you “Just” Self-Employed?

Entrepreneur. Solopreneur. Self-Employed. Small Business Owner.

I throw a lot of terms around that, when looked at objectively, might mean something similar. But in many ways an entrepreneur is no more a small-business owner than a pig is a slice of bacon. A slice of bacon once was part of a pig but a pig does not have to become a slice of bacon. And it takes a long time for part of a pig to get there (and many argue that it shouldn’t get there in the first place!)

All oinking aside, there is a big difference between a true entrepreneur and someone who is self-employed. The latter can become the former, and generally speaking, the former is almost always the latter! If you understand this confusing relationship, you’ll understand more about what these heavily-misused terms actually mean!

But Which One am I?

An entrepreneur is someone who creates new business in an untested new area. Entrepreneurs seek new opportunities through often unexplored business ventures and often create a new market. Bill Gates is an entrepreneur, because he created Microsoft, which was more than just a software company. The guy started by programming non-stop in his garage as a Harvard drop-out because he had a vision and an idea. Entrepreneurs need both.

A self-employed individual, by contrast is simply someone who replies on himself to create his own income. They also run a business. This is really an umbrella term than can include freelance writers, photographers, journalists, salespeople, web designers, plumbers, doctors and lawyers. These people are “self-employed” because they don’t collect a monthly paycheck from their employer. Their pay comes from their clients.

But your average doctor is not an entrepreneur! The notion of this actually seems kind of silly, when you think about it! A Doctor may have patients (and a lot of patience) but unless he patents a cure for Hepatitis-Q, or some other disease, he’s generally not doing anything groundbreaking that hasn’t been done before. He’s there to make your leg feel better. 🙂

There is some overlap between terms, of course – entrepreneurs are self-employed by definition! This article explains it all quite well too, especially the differences between building a business and simply running a business.

For Comparison


  • Have an idea or vision
  • Find a way to create income that is unusual, untested, or in a new market
  • Build an “empire” or at the very least, build something that is uniquely their own
  • Design and run a system that they have created
  • Do something groundbreaking and different

Self-Employed Individuals

  • Have clients
  • Work for themselves, but are doing work that others have done before
  • Might have a unique business model, but are not straying too far from a proven system
  • Work and specialize in a certain industry
  • Often run a business that require them to be “at work” in a similar manner to a standard job


  • Collect a steady paycheck
  • Apply for jobs (when unemployed)
  • Have benefits, 401k etc run by their employer
  • Work on company hours and company time
  • Sit in a desk all day and slowly rot (kidding! 🙂 )

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. The leap from a self-employed individual to an entrepreneur requires a certain amount of risk, vision, and ability to truly think outside the box. It also requires a person to stop thinking about their professional life as a “career” and more as a means for the expression of a great idea or business venture.

Not all self-employed individuals want to becomes entrepreneurs. Many are perfectly happy running a small business, or being an attorney with some well-paying clients. It’s really a matter of personal choice and ability. But the romantic term “entrepreneur” sure gets thrown around a lot, doesn’t it?

You like bacon, don’t you?

(Actually, I don’t, but I do like entrepreneurs!)


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