9 Differences Between Entrepreneurs and Individuals Who Work For Someone Else

Looking towards the sea - a great metaphor for the entrepreneurial or starting your own business
Looking towards the sea - a great metaphor for the entrepreneurial or starting your own business

Do you dream of coming up with a big idea and working hard to bring a product to market?  Or do you relish the idea of a steady income with time for both yourself and your family?  The differences between an entrepreneurial mind set and someone who works for others are vast and it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both, especially early on in life.  Here are nine observations on the behavioral traits of both entrepreneurs and corporate workers:

  1. Entrepreneurs are not merely individuals who are “self employed” but rather individuals who have a grand vision and a strategy for a particular idea.
  2. Individuals who work for someone else (lets call this a “corporate job”) enjoy the security of a steady paycheck and a structured environment (at least at large organizations).
  3. Entrepreneurs relish in the fact that they can grow their income in proportion to their hard work and success (this is not always the case when you work for an organization).
  4. Both entrepreneurs and corporate workers work hard, but entrepreneurship requires a 24 hour work mentality (especially during start up mode).  Most corporations have redundant roles, so if you miss a task or fail to do something there is a network in place to offset the error; as an entrepreneur you will need an extraordinary skill set and extraordinary stamina.
  5. Many corporate workers have financial commitments that keep them from developing an idea or business model (such as a mortgage, children, credit card debt, etc.).  Many entrepreneurs are relatively young or right out of college/university and do not have many commitments (and thus have little to risk).
  6. Many entrepreneurs are not interested in gaining resources (or making money) as quickly as possible; rather they are interested in long term growth and continually re-invest dollars back into the business idea or product.
  7. Corporate workers have a life and enjoy weekends off, dinner with the family, and paid vacation time (in addition to a defined pension program or a employee sponsored 401K plan).
  8. Entrepreneurs are stubborn and do not, necessarily, need above average critical reasoning skills.  I’ve often found that if you are too logical and critical you can convince yourself that any idea or business model will fail.  Entrepreneurs conduct analysis, but rely on perseverance and a deep understanding of market conditions, needs, and gaps.
  9. Corporate workers can be renaissance men or women – they can enjoy hobbies, sport, entertainment, music, etc., while a successful entrepreneur must be obsessed only with his or her idea or business model, especially early on.


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    For many people, the only type of the work they’ll ever know is working for someone else.  For others, staring their own business or following through on a late night idea is part of their genetic makeup.  The following is…

  2. Either ways, one can become very successful. Sometimes, people are just not the type of people that is suitable to become an entrepreneur.
    Thanks for putting up this list.
    Wayne Liew

  3. “I’ve often found that if you are too logical and critical you can convince yourself that any idea or business model will fail.”
    GREAT quote.
    The average Entrepreneur has to make many many more actual decisions than your typical corporate worker. These decisions provoke more thought and with more thought comes more uncertainty and worrying.
    Good entrepreneurs must be able to think through the plan and follow what they truly think is the right idea. Questioning anything too much will result in uncertainties.

  4. Hi Nick,
    Thanks for the comment.

  5. Hi Wayne,
    Yes, one can be successful by working hard in both corporate or entrepreneurial environments. And one does need to have a certain type of stomach to go through starting his or her own business.

  6. I think you did a nice job mixing the benefits… and the challenges… of being an entrepreneur.

  7. Thanks, OIAI, appreciate the comment! Do you run your own business / blog? Cheers,

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