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What are the Nine Types of Entrepreneurship? Which are you?

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 19 April 2024

10mins read

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Are you looking to start a new business in Portugal? Do you want to buy an existing business and make it bigger? Are you a fierce and proactive employee of a big corporation? Either way, congratulations: you have all you need to be a bonafide entrepreneur!
There are many types of entrepreneurs out there, and they all rely on different business models, tactics, marketing strategies, and funding options. But which one are you?

There are examples of successful entrepreneurs in all types of entrepreneurship, but knowing where you stand as a business owner, prospective investor, or hardworking professional can be a huge difference-maker.

In this article, we will explore 9 different types of entrepreneurs to help shed some light on the subject and inform you about where you stand.

1. Small Business Entrepreneurs

Small business entrepreneurs are individuals who start and run their own business ventures. They are driven by innovation, creativity, and a desire to bring their ideas to life. These entrepreneurs take on the risks associated with starting and managing a business, often with limited resources and through self-funding, in hopes of creating a successful and sustainable enterprise.

Small business entrepreneurship handles various aspects of the business, such as planning, financing, marketing, operations, and more. It's driven by professionals who are adaptable, resourceful, and passionate about their products or services, playing a crucial role in driving economic growth, creating job opportunities, and fostering innovation within their communities.

Key Features of Small Business Entrepreneurship:

  • **Autonomy:** Small business entrepreneurship has a high degree of independence in decision-making. Since entrepreneurs are not bound by corporate hierarchy, they can quickly adapt to market changes or opportunities.
  • **Hands-On Management:** Small business owners are deeply involved in most day-to-day operations, wearing multiple hats and being directly involved in various aspects of their business venture.
  • **Community Engagement:** Small businesses often have strong ties to their communities, contributing to local economies, sponsoring events, and fostering relationships with customers on a personal level.
  • **Limited Resources:** Compared to larger corporations, small businesses operate with limited resources in terms of finances, manpower, and infrastructure, requiring creative solutions and efficient resource management.

2. Large Company Entrepreneurs

Large company entrepreneurs, sometimes referred to as corporate entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, are individuals within established existing businesses who exhibit entrepreneurial traits and behaviors. Unlike traditional entrepreneurs who start their own businesses, these individuals work within existing corporate structures.

Large company entrepreneurs display similar characteristics to small business entrepreneurs, such as innovation, creativity, and a willingness to take risks. They often identify new opportunities, develop innovative ideas, and drive change within their organizations. They are proactive, resourceful, and possess a strong drive to create value and growth for their company.

Large company entrepreneurship is essential for fostering innovation and driving organizational growth, often by introducing new products, processes, or business models within the established framework of a larger company. It involves navigating internal systems, fostering a culture of innovation, and overcoming barriers within the corporate environment to implement new ideas and initiatives.

Key Features of Large Company Entrepreneurship:

  • **Corporate Support:** Unlike small business owners, large company entrepreneurs operate within a well-established company and highly structured corporate environment, leveraging existing frameworks, policies, and support systems.
  • **Extended Resources:** Unlike small businesses, large company entrepreneurs have access to substantial resources, including capital, infrastructure, talent, and existing customer bases, enabling them to experiment with innovative ideas on a larger scale.
  • **Strategic Alignment:** Large company entrepreneurship initiatives are often aligned with the company's existing business model, aiming to create synergies and add value to the overall business goals.
  • **Internal Incentives:** Out of all the types of entrepreneurship, large company entrepreneurship is the one that's most driven by internal incentives. Entrepreneurs rely on rewards attributed to them by their superiors, not by market demands.

3. Scalable Startups Entrepreneurs

Scalable startup entrepreneurs are individuals or teams who create and lead startup ventures with the potential for rapid and significant growth. Such entrepreneurs focus on building new businesses that can efficiently increase revenue without proportionally increasing costs. 

Startups often leverage technology, innovation, and unique business models to achieve rapid expansion.

Successful examples of scalable startup entrepreneurship include companies like Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox, and many other tech-based ventures that have achieved significant growth and disrupted traditional industries through innovative business models and technology-driven solutions.

Key Features of Scalable Startup Entrepreneurship:

  • **Scalability:** The business model of a startup is designed to grow rapidly without encountering major limitations or constraints, aiming for exponential growth instead of linear growth.
  • **High-Return Potential:** Scalable startup entrepreneurs target large market opportunities and aim for high profitability, attracting investors seeking substantial returns on their investments.
  • **Focus on Technology:** Many scalable startup entrepreneurs leverage technology to disrupt existing industries or create entirely new markets.
  • **Adaptability:** Scalable startup entrepreneurs are agile and adaptable, capable of pivoting their strategies based on market feedback and changing conditions.

4. Innovative Entrepreneurs

An innovative entrepreneur is an individual who introduces new ideas, products, services, or methods into the market. Innovative entrepreneurs are characterized by their creativity, vision, and willingness to challenge existing norms or solve problems in novel ways.

These entrepreneurs are constantly seeking opportunities for improvement and are driven by a desire to create meaningful change. They don't subscribe to an existing business model, promoting new business ideas instead. Challenging the status quo and thinking outside the box is precisely what they aim for.

Even though innovation is often linked with startups, an innovative entrepreneur can tap into any type of business model. Innovative entrepreneurship isn't about legal business structures, but rather about the willingness and ability to create businesses that add something entirely new to the world.

Key Features of Innovative Entrepreneurship:

  • **Creativity:** Innovative entrepreneurs possess a creative mindset that allows them to generate unique and original ideas.
  • **Vision:** They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how their innovation can make a difference.
  • **Problem-solving Skills:** They excel at identifying problems or inefficiencies and developing solutions that address these issues in a new and effective manner.
  • **Risk-Taking:** They are willing to take calculated risks and step into uncharted territory to bring their innovative ideas to life.
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5. Imitative Entrepreneurs

Imitative entrepreneurship is made of individuals who replicate an existing successful business model rather than introducing entirely new ideas into the market. They observe successful ventures or trends and replicate them in a similar context.

While they may not be the originators of the concepts, these entrepreneurs can still contribute to growth and innovation and create jobs by diversifying market access or improving the delivery of existing products/services in different regions or segments.

Key Features of Imitative Entrepreneurship:

  • **Emulation:** Imitative business owners emulate or replicate successful business models, products, or services that have already demonstrated success in other markets or industries.
  • **Profit from Established Ideas:** They aim to capitalize on the success of existing ideas by entering markets where similar offerings have already demonstrated demand or profitability.
  • **Execution Focus:** Rather than focusing on innovation, they prioritize efficient execution and operational excellence to replicate and scale existing ideas.
  • **Lower Risk:** Imitative entrepreneurs perceive lower risk in adopting proven models, as they can capitalize on established market demand or consumer behavior.

6. Researcher Entrepreneurs

Researcher entrepreneurship is made of individuals who combine their expertise in a particular field of research or academia with an entrepreneurial mindset to create ventures based on their research findings or scientific innovations.

In a nutshell, they bridge the gap between scientific discoveries and commercial applications by translating their research into viable business opportunities. They contribute to technological advancements, create new industries or disrupt existing ones, and foster growth by bringing novel ideas from the lab bench to the marketplace.

Key Features of Researcher Entrepreneurship:

  • **Innovation:** Researcher entrepreneurs develop innovations or technologies based on their scientific discoveries or breakthroughs, aiming to create commercial applications or products.
  • **Deep Expertise:** They have in-depth knowledge and expertise in a specific scientific field, often stemming from academic research, advanced degrees, or professional experience.
  • **Commercialization Skills:** They possess the business acumen and entrepreneurial skills necessary to commercialize their research findings, potentially founding startups or collaborating with existing companies to bring their innovations to market.
  • **Patents and Intellectual Property:** They often work on securing patents or intellectual property rights for their innovations to protect their discoveries and enable commercialization.

7. Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs create ventures with the primary goal of addressing social or environmental issues. Their focus goes beyond generating profit; they aim to create positive and sustainable change in society by tackling various pressing challenges, such as poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, healthcare accessibility, education, and more.

Examples of social entrepreneurship include organizations like TOMS Shoes and Grameen Bank

These ventures not only aim to generate revenue but also have a clear social mission at their core, demonstrating that business principles can be used as a force for positive change and social impact.

Key Features of Social Entrepreneurship:

  • **Mission-Driven:** Social entrepreneurs are passionate about a specific social or environmental cause and center their business plan around addressing that issue.
  • **Sustainability:** Their ventures aim for long-term sustainability, seeking to create lasting positive change rather than offering short-term solutions.
  • **Collaboration:** They collaborate with various stakeholders, whether it is the local government, a non-profit organization, or another social-based business venture.
  • **Impact Measurement:** Social entrepreneurs prioritize measuring and evaluating the impact of their initiatives on the community or the environment, focusing on achieving tangible and measurable results rather than mere financial gain.

8. Buyer Entrepreneurs

"Buyer entrepreneurs" is not a widely recognized or established term within entrepreneurship. However, in some contexts, it could refer to individuals or entities that specialize in purchasing existing businesses or enterprises rather than starting new businesses from scratch.

These individuals, often known as business buyers or acquisition entrepreneurs, seek opportunities to acquire established businesses to manage, grow, and potentially improve these enterprises. Their focus is on identifying businesses with growth potential, operational efficiencies, or strategic value that they can leverage to generate profit or further success.

Key Features of Buyer Entrepreneurship:

  • **Financial Savvy:** Buyer entrepreneurs possess financial acumen to evaluate the value of a business, negotiate deals, and secure funding or financing for acquisitions.
  • **Operational Expertise:** They bring managerial or operational expertise to the acquired business, implementing strategies to optimize performance and efficiency.
  • **Strategic Vision:** They have a vision for how they can enhance and grow the businesses they acquire, possibly through new management practices, expansion into new markets, or improving existing operations.
  • **Exit Strategies:** They might sometimes have plans for eventual exits, either through selling the improved business at a higher value or using it as a platform for future acquisitions.

9. Venture Capitalists

They aren't called entrepreneurs, but they are investors or firms that provide funding to startups and early-stage companies in exchange for equity ownership. They differ from buyer entrepreneurs in their primary focus, approach to investment, and their role within the entrepreneurial landscape.

The venture capitalist tends to favor equity over managerial control. His goal is not to acquire an already profitable company, but rather a scalable startup or company with potential for rapid growth. His managerial involvement is minimal, as all he truly wants is to finance a new business venture and come back later to reap the benefits once it turns into a successful business.

Key Features of Venture Capitalism:

  • **High Risk, High Reward:** Venture capitalists invest in early-stage ventures with high-risk profiles but the potential for significant returns if successful. They understand that many startups may fail, but successful investments can yield substantial profits.
  • **Equity Investment:** They typically provide funding in exchange for equity ownership in the company. They become shareholders and have a stake in the company's success.
  • **Limited Partnership Structure:** They often operate as limited partnerships, with investors (limited partners) providing the capital, and the firm's managers (general partners) making investment decisions.
  • **Portfolio Diversification:** They build portfolios by investing in multiple businesses across different industries or sectors to spread risk and maximize potential returns.


Hopefully, knowing the different types of entrepreneurs out there will help you understand more clearly where you stand as an entrepreneur yourself. Successful businesses don't exist without a successful entrepreneur, but there's more than one single path to victory in the business world.

Entrepreneurs create the future, one business idea at a time. Now that you're familiar with the most common types of entrepreneurship, channel your inner Steve Jobs, call all your family members, and start turning that innovative idea into a real business plan.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many types of entrepreneurs are there?

There are many types of entrepreneurship out there: You can be a large company entrepreneur, a researcher entrepreneur, a buyer entrepreneur, an imitative entrepreneur, or even a social entrepreneur.

Can I be an entrepreneur without running my own business?

For sure! A large company entrepreneur doesn't have to be the founder or co-founder of a company to make a difference. He or she just needs to show entrepreneurial spirit while working for an existing company.

What do social entrepreneurs seek?

Social entrepreneurs seek to address and solve pressing social or environmental issues while creating sustainable and impactful change. Social entrepreneurs play the game not to make money, but to drive social development, create jobs, invest in their local market, and empower struggling communities (for example).

What are scalable startups?

Scalable businesses are characterized by their rapid expansion and growth opportunities. They start as a small business idea, but they are expected to grow into a larger company, often by leveraging new technologies and groundbreaking ideas.

How is a buyer entrepreneur different from a venture capitalist?

While the first focuses on buying, managing, and growing a business, the latter is more interested in acquiring equity from a new venture and waiting for it to develop into a valuable company.

Do I need to use my own money to be an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs don't always have to be investors. In fact, they tend to be masters at drafting business plans capable of attracting outside investment.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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