Entrepreneurship: an explainer

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Mar 7, 2023

Entrepreneurs are some of the most creative innovators in the business world. They build new businesses around their ideas, often taking a personal risk in the pursuit of the enterprise and its potential rewards.

Entrepreneurs are also commonly associated with startup ventures, which Forbes define as young companies founded to develop a unique product or service, bring it to market, and make it irresistible and irreplaceable for customers:

“Rooted in innovation, a startup aims to remedy deficiencies of existing products or create entirely new categories of goods and services, disrupting entrenched ways of thinking and doing business for entire industries,” states Forbes. “That’s why many startups are known within their respective industries as disruptors.”

This is largely what separates entrepreneurs from other small business owners. While both are self-employed and run their own operations, an entrepreneur innovates, expands, and evolves as needed.

Famous entrepreneurs

Some of the most famous entrepreneurs of the 20th and 21st centuries are the individuals who helped develop the products and services that people now use every day. 

Bill Gates

As the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the last century. He and fellow co-founder, Paul Allen, transformed their small technology enterprise into a corporation worth trillions of dollars – and Gates himself has been named the richest man in the world several times over the years. Gates is often lauded for his business acumen, technical expertise, and leadership qualities.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most well-known internet entrepreneurs, co-founding Facebook when he was just 19 years old – and becoming a billionaire at 23. Zuckerberg was programming and writing his own software when he was still in middle school, and has continued to expand the digital horizon with communication, advertising, and social media products and services that harness artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning algorithms, and other technologies.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, grew a mail-order record business into a conglomerate of Virgin-branded entities – such as Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Media – and is often cited as a self-made billionaire. Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit is well-documented: he started his first business – a magazine – as a 16-year-old, and he has even been knighted at Buckingham Palace for services to entrepreneurship. He now describes himself on LinkedIn as a tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker who believes in turning ideas into reality, and is noted for his mentorship.

Steve Jobs

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a noted creative and innovator who helped develop tech products – and cultural juggernauts – such as the iPod and iPhone devices. Jobs was celebrated, before and after his death in 2011, as a visionary with a pioneering spirit and a shrewd understanding of brand and marketing.

Strengths and personality traits among successful entrepreneurs

Not all entrepreneurs are alike. One might be the type of entrepreneur who goes to business school, while another might have dropped out of school altogether to focus on designing and selling a new app. But there are a few common traits. And while the characteristics commonly found among the most successful entrepreneurs may come naturally to some people, they can also be developed by anyone with a good idea – and a desire to turn that idea into their own successful business opportunities.  


Entrepreneurship is hard work: it requires significant investments in time, money, and energy. With this in mind, entrepreneurs need to be passionate about both their business idea and the business itself if they want to be successful with the venture and see it through to a successful outcome.


Innovation is a prerequisite to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are always evolving, whether it’s their skill sets, new products or services, or their business plans, so they need an innovative mind that can tackle challenges from different angles and come up with creative new solutions for problems.


Entrepreneurship can come with rejection, such as from investors, and even failure when ideas don’t land well in the market. This is why entrepreneurs need to be resilient, ready to regroup, restrategise, and try again.


While entrepreneurs are often driving their businesses, they rarely do so entirely in isolation. For example, startups often require seed money or similar investments to get them off the ground, and successful entrepreneurs know how to make the most of the resources they have – and how to access others if needed. These resources aren’t limited to finances, either. The best entrepreneurs know the limits of their own knowledge and skills, and will outsource or delegate when required to do so for the good of the business.


Entrepreneurs and business leaders need to be decisive. If they spend too much time questioning themselves, or doubting their ideas, their business will never get the momentum it needs to succeed. Instead, they need the self-confidence to take action, learn from their mistakes, and be bold with their visions and goals. 


Entrepreneurs wear many hats, from product developer to marketer to salesperson. This means that entrepreneurs need to be willing to roll up their sleeves, learn new skill sets, and continually develop their knowledge and expertise in new areas.

A growth mindset

Entrepreneurs know that there is always more to learn and space to grow. They constantly push boundaries, build on previous experience, and foster long-term growth for both themselves and their businesses.


Entrepreneurship can come with some high-risk challenges, and these aren’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the personal financial risk an entrepreneur takes with their business can often lead to a greater reward – one that isn’t shared out among shareholders or other parties in the way a traditional business’ profits might be. But great entrepreneurs know that while risk-taking is par for the course when setting up their business, these risks should be calculated and never reckless.

Develop your entrepreneurial mindset

Explore the essential principles of entrepreneurship as well as innovative organisational environments with the flexible MBA with Entrepreneurship at Abertay University. This flexible, 100% online MBA enables you to study business as a whole, developing your knowledge of what makes an organisation successful and well-run.

Throughout this MBA degree, you will study the process of new idea creation, leading innovation, and developing new enterprises, either as off-shoots of existing organisations or as standalone entities. One of your key modules, Innovation and New Ideas Creation, will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, and attributes for success. And on successful completion of your degree, you will have a well-rounded knowledge of the workings of a business, and be equipped with the skills to make positive change to multiple sectors.