The Fine Line Between Entrepreneurs and Businessmen

Typical businessman
Can you discern the differences between businessmen and entrepreneurs? In vocabulary, both are synonymously similar.  Both have to form a company, start a business, sell products or solutions to customers and pay their dues.  But it does sound better when you’re known as an entrepreneur rather than a businessman. Nonetheless, a so-called entrepreneur would stay a businessman, if he lacks substance in being an entrepreneur.  

Businessmanship is not a word, but entrepreneurship is. So, what is entrepreneurship? Once, I asked a college student majoring in Finance and Economics; and he just stared blank at me. Of course, anyone can consult Google and find a bunch of answers, but if I did it that way, then my blogpost would look placidly plain, wouldn’t it? 

Some friends compared me with one of our common friends, and asked why am I more successful even though we are almost in the same industry? My reply amused them. I said, while we both started small, I applied businessmen practices to achieve the results of an entrepreneur; while he, an MBA graduate, did it the reverse way.

A businessman’s approaches are calculative; he will be frugal when the resources are limited in order to survive but he would never sacrifice the vision. Just like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos, if a garage is good enough for an office in the beginning, then it is an office. 

Unlike businessmen, money shouldn’t be the only lure to start a journey for an entrepreneur. Yes, you can act like a calculative businessman, but you have to develop a mindset maintained like an entrepreneur. The right mindset is more crucial than a recipe that a step-by-step guide tells you on what to do to become an entrepreneur.

Would you have everybody sit down for a proper meeting, or you’d go straight to tackle a problem even without one? Do you fancy a SWOT analysis before anything is fundamentally laid down, or passionately jumpstart something that is instinctively right? Would you prefer a first-class report that will score you an A academically, or you would do a first class job even without a report? Would you choose to collect customer feedback from disseminating well-designed questionnaires, or you’d rather breathe in tandem with your customers? These, are the questions.

What is entrepreneurship?
To run an MBA-like enterprise, you may look professional, yet you could end up as just a businessman, if the luxurious pack that contains all kinds of tools, equipments, methods, strategies and skills eventually shrink to merely an objective on your monthly balance sheet. 

All the expensive formalities that come from the business books may not yield you the anticipated results if ones don’t pursue the core concepts, but hunt only for the details. And the few cores are in fact spiritual, rather than physical substances.

A businessman cares more in making money; an entrepreneur cares in a larger perspective, including humanitarian community and social responsibility. A businessman is nearsighted; focuses mainly on a monthly sale. An entrepreneur is visionary; stresses on research and development. A businessman trades to trade; an entrepreneur builds to trade. A businessman considers employees as costs; an entrepreneur treats them as assets. A businessman strategizes on exploitation; an entrepreneur believes in human resource development. A businessman turns himself into a selfish rich man; an entrepreneur brings wealth to the society at the same time.

How to become an entrepreneur? Maybe you can learn to become one from any B school, but I trust entrepreneurship flows naturally in one’s blood, and that makes one a true entrepreneur.

By Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Typical businessman Can you discern the differences between businessmen and entrepreneurs? In vocabulary, both are synonymously s...


  1. I think entrepreneur is equal with leader and entrepreneurship is equal with interruption and the activities involved in the process. The businessman is one who starts an existing business on an already confirmed thought or plan. Entrepreneurs need to understand your business and target market.I would like to thank you for sharing this post.

  2. Well, those are very good distinction points as far as the difference between any entrepreneur and businessman is concerned. I thank you for being a source of answer to my question!

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