Defining Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is celebrated like never before and it is defined in so many ways—social entrepreneurship, intra-entrepreneurship, tech entrepreneurship, micro-entrepreneurship—you name it. With the rise of entrepreneurship in Louisville, I asked a number of admirable business minds how they define the nature of entrepreneurship.


“Entrepreneurship is about finding your place and defining your role in the community.  As a company, we strive to be the best at what we do but we also see ourselves as a model for how to interact with our community, how to treat employees and how to do business with a sense of civic pride.  We are more than just a business, we want to be a force for our industry.”

— Edward Lee, chef and owner, 610 Magnolia & MilkWood

“I believe that the true nature of entrepreneurship is to envision what might be possible, and using the tools of business, make it so.  While many people start and operate businesses, a true entrepreneur disrupts the structure or process of an industry and scales an enterprise that employs people, sells a product or services and generates a financial profit.  Entrepreneurial skills may be utilized in many settings — private, government, non-profit — however, the true nature of entrepreneurship requires harnessing the forces of the free enterprise system.”

— Kent Oyler, ceo, Greater Louisville Inc.


“To truly be an entrepreneur you have to possess a crazy amount of passion. That is the first step to creating your own path in life. Even if you don’t have certain skills or knowledge, you find ways to solve problems and make things happen. Being an entrepreneur means you are willing to lose sleep, take risks, and commit to what you love.”

— Jecorey “1200” Arthur, founder, 1200

“Successful entrepreneurs have one basic characteristic in common, they all begin as a competent business person.  Everyone has to start with a successful business, not just an idea, but a real business before they earn the honorable distinction of a successful entrepreneur.  What really defines those who succeed is their clear vision of the business through the eyes of the customer.  The really great businesses are run by people who have the unique ability to connect-the-dots between the customers, their undiscovered needs, and the market; that is the REAL vision.   Once that step is completed, it is all about urgency.”

— C. Michael Bowers, managing partner, SB Holding Group


“The hallmark of any successful entrepreneur is flexibility, and agility is the ability to be flexible fast – to know when to pivot and to do it quickly.  Entrepreneurs should recognize and admit what they don’t know, and then surround themselves with people who do know.  Passion is important in an entrepreneur, but so is coachability – knowing when to listen to advisors.  Entrepreneurs need to be comfortable living with ambiguity – nothing is set in stone in the entrepreneurial world!”

— Suzanne Bergmeister, entrepreneur in residence, University of Louisville

“The root of a strong community is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are those that drive high impact for their communities by creating jobs, creating wealth, and giving back. Scale Up, Go Big, Give Back.”

— Jackson Andrews, managing director, Endeavor Louisville


“To me entrepreneurship’s nature is: Long hours, hard work, constant self exploration and reaffirmation that you are doing the right thing at the right time. A balance of keeping up with trends and technology, yet not compromising on your mission to do what you love and think contributes to a better society. Dedication, confidence, enthusiasm and patience are a must for any entrepreneur.”

— Nick Baute, founder, Hound Dog Press

“Entrepreneurs are often defined with big over reaching adjectives like risky, organized, innovative and visionary.  I believe entrepreneurs are born with the desire to create, the will to get started and the unrelenting vision of ultimate success – we make things happen.”

— David Dafoe, founder, Flavorman


“Let’s level-set and be clear, the every day experience of Entrepreneurship isn’t what you read about in TechCrunch, Fast-Company, Inc. Magazine, or even what you see on TV that happens in that mythical land called Silicon Valley. I don’t remember a day in my high school career that matched exactly to the exciting times portrayed in the 1986 blockbuster film, Ferris Bueller’s day off – in fact, I am still seeking a day that is full of that much fun! The every day, 24-hour experience of entrepreneurship is best described as a roller coaster seeded with moments of anticipation, fear, determination to overcome the unexpected, high-fives, relief and a “do it again…maybe” mentality. The best entrepreneurs have the courage, self-awareness, team orientation and stamina to outlast their greatest, value creating company milestone and then do it again…maybe.”

Tendai Charasika, ceo, SuperFanU

“Entrepreneurship is essentially an act of trust. It is stepping into the unknown believing that when it comes time for that leg to bear weight, that something of substance will be under it that is able to do so. Thus a path emerges to whatever goal you are moving toward. The path was always there, but that step forges a now visible walkway that others can see more clearly and follow.”

— Mark Franco, president & ceo, MXD Process


“Entrepreneurship is essentially about creation and growth. A successful entrepreneur sees a need, creates a solution to meet it, and finds a way to sell it to customers. The resulting growth of a business creates a range of benefits: the customers’ circumstances are improved, jobs are created, positive returns are provided for investors, and economic growth occurs. While entrepreneurship can be seen in every part of the economy, history shows that it’s particularly effective at creating growth when coupled with new technologies. As the 21st century unfolds, new technologies provide unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs to create and grow new businesses.”

— Greg Langdon, startup advisor

“Successful entrepreneurs have equal doses of creativity, resourcefulness, energy, optimism, curiosity and unshakable faith. They must also be active listeners, willing to stop and ask for directions and occasionally turn the car around.”

— Terry Gill, vice president, EnterpriseCorp


“In my mind, the biggest obstacle to entrepreneurship is not coming up with some brilliant idea, but rather getting out of bed one day and taking action. Entrepreneurship is not about dreaming, it’s about doing. Yes, it is going to take motivation, ingenuity, a LOT of work, and a little luck. But after that, assuming you are passionate about what you are doing, it’s really quite fulfilling. Long hours are to be expected, along with plenty of risk- but in the end, it’s very fun (and hopefully very profitable).”

— Ben Aroh, founder, Aroh Made / The Wooden States of America

“Entrepreneurship is similar to [good] addiction. Once its in your system, its hard to give it up. The addiction centers around taking big risks, but mitigating them when the repercussion of failure is significant. And then executing the idea with a singular passion and focus.”

— Tony Schy, managing director, Velocity Indiana


“Entrepreneurship is taking an idea from the blind optimism stage, fertilizing it with gallons of sweat equity, leveraging it with capital (social and/or financial), growing it with pragmatism and sometimes hard knocks, and if it is not an abysmal failure, harvesting it with success defined the way you want to define it, either personally, civically, financially and/or by impact.”

— Gill HollandThe Group Entertainment

“Entrepreneurship is all about mitigated risk-taking. If you run head-first into an opportunity without careful consideration, you’re setting yourself up for failure. However, if you attempt to uncover every rock in every corner, you’re running the risk of “paralysis through analysis.” Enjoy the entrepreneurial journey — very few get to do it once, much less several times. Entrepreneurship is about having the vision and consideration to educate yourself while believing in yourself.”

— John Blair, ceo, FranNet


“Entrepreneurship is making a living by implementing your interests and talents into a product/service that others value and are willing to pay for.”

— Kristin Jordan & Dani Harris, co-founders, Knot & Company

“Being an entrepreneur is not about the money– it’s about having a passion to do what you love and make someone’s life better. Sometimes money is a reward that comes from doing or creating something really great, but wanting to do something great has to be at the center or everything else will fall apart. People can see through pretense and they know quality when it’s in front of them. All the great entrepreneurs had a great idea before they started their business and it was never to make a quick buck.”

— Lang Leichhardt, owner, Lang Thomas Photography


“To quote Willy Wonka ‘If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.’  To us, entrepreneurship is a passion and a drive that let’s us use our imaginations to positively affect the people in our community. One delicious doughnut at a time.”

— Annie Harlow & Leslie Wilson, owners, Hi-Five Doughnuts

“Entrepreneurs are change-makers. Ultimately, they are responsible for long-term community and economic growth thru the realization of new ideas and processes that create value and solve problems within markets.”

— Bryce Butler, managing director, Access Ventures


“As I try to distill the nature of entrepreneurship, I keep coming back to the cultivation of abundance, human flourishing, and a global common good. Firstly, we as entrepreneurs are fostering the creation of something useful for promoting abundance and human flourishing. Though many activities we do as humans can perform that first task, good entrepreneurship is unique in that it seeks to create enough abundance to go around, and to strike an equitable balance between the surplus of that abundance coming to the entrepreneur, and to the many other associated beneficiaries. We are not con-men, and we are not charities.  This means that I want good gains at the lowest cost for myself and for my customers at every transaction. But I also want to see abundance, health, and flourishing for each of us and our descendants into the future. For my work specifically, I want to see gains and not costs in abundance to my family, neighbors, and whomever else may farm the land that I work, as well as anyone living downstream or downwind, or anywhere else that effects may be felt.”

— Luke Groce, owner, Groce Family Farm

“Entrepreneurship in itself is hard to explain in a micro way because the people pursuing it usually have such diverse experiences and approaches. But if we were to talk about it in a more basic way, I believe that entrepreneurship is usually an individual seeking to impose their will through a specific vision for the benefit of a business opportunity. The driving factors of these actions vary between an inherent desire to watch something grow or a strange personal vanity or greed. Occasionally the urge is philanthropic.”

— Tyler Deeb, owner and operator, Misc Goods Company


“Entrepreneurship is one part passion, two parts discipline, four parts luck and twelve parts persistence. Slowly cooked over an intense flame.”

— Ankur Gopal, ceo, Interapt

“At times being an entrepreneur can feel like jumping off a cliff and building your airplane on the way down. It’s in those moments that you are empowered by your own sense of confidence, creativity, and accomplishment. There are few things more rewarding than developing an idea and watching it flourish.”

— Coral Abood, owner and operator, Willow Tree Photography


“Humans are curious; entrepreneurs activate their curiosities through innovation.”

— Colleen Clines, co-founder & president/ceo, Anchal Project

“Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks and making sacrifices in order to have freedom to do the things you love.  Being surrounded by change and moving targets forces you to focus on long term goals and become less reactive.  It’s learning  that struggles are not failures and failures are not permanent.  Entrepreneurs are  motivated by challenges and setbacks and learn to take punches to the gut on a daily basis. Ultimately, it’s a series of highs & lows, wins & losses, surprises, mistakes, early mornings & late nights, & exhaustion.  Focusing on the big picture creates tenacity, energy, and excitement  through this constant learning process and keeps me going.”

— Matt Argo, owner, Good Folks Coffee


“The Nature of Entrepreneurship is looking at the world or immediate environment, identifying a way to make a positive change and create value for others. It is looking for ways to increase efficiency in a market, utilizing scarce resources effectively and making a career out of it for yourself, while creating jobs for other as your entity grows.”

— Kelachukwu Ivonye, ceo, Arrow Food Couriers

About The Writer

Ben Terry

Partner, Creative

Ben Terry is a Partner at Access Ventures. He provides creative support to our portfolio companies, initiatives and leads the creative team.

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