3.1 Different types of entrepreneurship
In the following activity, you will listen to some real-life entrepreneurs and consider the types of entrepreneurship they represent.
- To begin this activity, try to list as many different types of entrepreneur as you can. We are looking for modifications which usually involve inserting another word in front of the original word. For example, a ‘social entrepreneur’. Don’t attempt any internet searches. Simply record the terms below so that you can refer back to them later:
Listen to this audio, which features four entrepreneurs talking about their contrasting ventures. It lasts about six minutes
- Now study the following definitions and try to match the entrepreneurs (and types of entrepreneurial activity) that you heard about in the audio to one or more of the highlighted terms. You can also insert your own terms by copying them from the list you produced in part 1. Record your comments in the box below, then refer to the discussion.
Corporate entrepreneur / intrapreneur
These terms are both used to describe someone who acts entrepreneurially inside an existing organisation, which may range from a medium-sized firm to a large corporation, government agency or charity. The constraint of operating from within an organisational hierarchy, rather than being free to act independently, is the key feature that distinguishes corporate entrepreneurs / intrapreneurs from other entrepreneurs. Some organisations actively encourage corporate entrepreneurship / intrapreneurship as a way of promoting innovation and adaptability. There are strong parallels between this role and that of ‘product champion’ which is a term sometimes used by innovation researchers.
This term has been derived from the wider use of the letter ‘e’ to refer to ‘electronic’ (as in ‘email’ and ‘e-commerce.’). It is used to refer to the growing number of people who run businesses that depend entirely on the internet. With the proliferation of internet-based businesses, it now represents a very broad category, and could include anyone from the owner of a large online retailing empire to a self-employed person using an online shopping platform (such as eBay.com or Etsy.com) to sell specialist products from home.
This term has become popular as a way of describing entrepreneurs who establish ventures, or introduce new initiatives with the aim of tackling specific environmental problems. In practice, this can mean a wide variety of activities, ranging from a small, community-based enterprise selling organic fresh produce to a large commercial business operating in a low-carbon industry sector, such as the manufacture or installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
This term is normally used to describe a person who has set up a small business in order to pursue a personal interest such as a craft (e.g. a pottery studio) or a sporting activity (e.g. horse-riding holidays). It is sometimes seen as a negative term, with the same kind of implied criticism as for ‘hobby’ farmers. The term refers to the idea that this type of entrepreneur prioritises quality of life over other common motivations for running a business. They might want to achieve a reasonable level of income from the venture, but are not actively pursuing purely commercial goals such as growing it into a much larger business, or securing large (or short-term) financial returns.
This term refers to someone who operates several different ventures at the same time. There are different types of portfolio entrepreneur. They can range from extremely wealthy owners of multiple businesses to much less prosperous people, often based in remote rural areas, who engage in several different small enterprises in order to reduce risks and to maintain an income when local markets, or economic conditions more generally, are depressed or uncertain (note the distinction between this term and the ‘serial entrepreneur’).
This term refers to people who create or operate businesses in the countryside. It is sometimes used in a more restricted way to focus on the traditional rural industries, such as agriculture, forestry, food manufacturing and rural crafts. However, the term is also used to refer to those running a variety of businesses that happen to be located in a rural area. It can also be difficult to define the geographic boundaries of rural businesses (e.g. does it include an entrepreneur whose business is located in a village that is on the fringes of a large city, or someone based in a remote rural location who spends much of their time doing business internationally).
This term refers to someone who sets up several different ventures over a period of time, often reinvesting profits from the sale of an existing business in order to finance a new one, sometimes in an entirely different field of activity. This pattern may reflect the entrepreneur’s preference for creating new ventures rather than managing larger established businesses (note the distinction between this term and the ‘portfolio entrepreneur’).
This term is normally used to identify the founder(s) of a social venture, or someone who initiates a larger programme of social change. The distinctive feature of this type of entrepreneurship is that the primary purpose is to address social or environmental problems rather than simply to achieve commercial goals. This suggests a number of differences, including the values involved, how people understand concepts such as entrepreneurial ‘opportunity’, and the way that organisations are run. There has been a lot of interest in social entrepreneurship in recent years and this has generated many competing definitions.
This term typically describes a person who has founded a new venture in order to develop some form of advanced technology, most commonly in industry sectors such as information and communications technology (ICT), biotechnology, nanotechnology and other applied sciences. One of the distinctive features of this kind of entrepreneurial activity is that it is often very fast-moving, as a result of new scientific discoveries and often intensive international competition – there are also particularly strong links to innovation. Governments around the world see this kind of entrepreneurial activity as a particularly important source of economic growth as well as offering possible solutions to major societal challenges such as poverty and climate change.
Identifying types of entrepreneur and entrepreneurial venture
|Interviewee||Type of entrepreneur / entrepreneurial venture|
We suggest that our interviewees fall into the following categories:
Danny Quinn – social entrepreneur. He describes his business, Black Sheep, as a social enterprise working in arts and culture undertaking performance-based work and participatory community arts projects. They train new and emerging artists and provide opportunities for real experience in the creative industries working alongside professionals.
Julia Charles – lifestyle entrepreneur. Julia is following her passion for staging entertainment events. Whilst the term lifestyle entrepreneurs is sometimes used for individuals who have limited growth aspirations for their ventures, Julia has no such limited aspirations.
Dan Wright – ecopreneur and technology entrepreneur. Heliex Power helps industrial companies recover wasted energy with an inventive engineering product that is protected by patents. If you listen carefully Dan also mentions that he has started and sold companies in the past – also making him a serial entrepreneur.
Catherine Bottrill – ecopreneur, e-preneur and portfolio entrepreneur. Her company, Pilio, helps organisations reduce their use of energy. Their product is software, accessed online in a ‘software as a service’ model. Catherine also mentions that she is involved with another organisation, Julie’s Bicycle, indicating she is a portfolio entrepreneur.
This shows that the entrepreneur types often overlap, rather like different types of innovation. The exercise also highlights how difficult it can be to produce a single definition for these varied types of activity. It is important to bear these points in mind as you start to use this terminology, and to avoid jumping to conclusions when you see a reference to a particular ‘type’ of entrepreneur or entrepreneurial activity.
Entrepreneurship has generated more than its fair share of new terms (or ‘neologisms’). We have concentrated on those that are most commonly used, and that are (in most cases) reasonably well-defined. However, there are many other terms, most of which are simply passing fads and fashions. We have also tried to avoid a few terms that are either inappropriate or slightly offensive. Examples of these more dubious terms include ‘Alterpreneur’ (referring to an older person, possibly beyond the normal retirement age, who establishes a new business venture), ‘Kidpreneur’ (an ugly term, typically used to describe a young person who has become wealthy by creating a commercially-successful app or computer game), and ‘Mompreneur’ (a particularly dubious term, occasionally used to refer to a woman who sets up a business while, or possibly after, having a family).
While the interviewees are different types of entrepreneur, they also demonstrate common themes. For example, both Danny and Catherine talk about identifying a gap in the market that provided an opportunity for their business.