I run into this question every couple of months. Some people assert that only a person who has launched and sustained an innovative business can be called an entrepreneur. They argue that a franchisee or someone with a one-person business should not be called entrepreneur, and even someone in a successful non-innovative business (an auto dealership, say) doesn’t qualify, by their definition.
On the other hand, Merriam-Webster Online says an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” To me, “entrepreneur” and “enterprise” have the same root. M-W Online defines enterprise as 1) a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky; 2) readiness to engage in daring or difficult action; 3) a unit of economic organization or activity; especially a business organization.
By the dictionary, then, I suggest that the franchisee and the one-person business owner can, indeed, be called entrepreneurs, especially if their startups are daring and/or difficult. But aren’t they all? Anybody want to weigh in on this?
[BTW, kudos to Merriam-Webster Online for their newly designed site, sans pop-up ads.]