Defining Entrepreneurship

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, I asked a number of admirable creative and business minds how they define the nature of entrepreneurship.


Raechele Gray | Founder, Greater Works Design Studio 

“I believe entrepreneurship embodies the highest, most compelling form of ingenuity and value creation known to mankind! It has the capacity to be the great equalizer of economic opportunity & mobility for any problem-solver with an idea and the willingness to assume the risk, invest the time, and gain the knowledge required to bring that vision to life. However, history shows that the pathway to successful entrepreneurship (& wealth-creation) has not merely been the road less traveled, but more so the highway that has been systematically hidden in plain-sight.”

Jackson Andrews | Managing Director, Endeavor Louisville

“Entrepreneurship encompasses the vision, execution, and persistence to build something of great value while experiencing both dynamic struggles and triumphs. Entrepreneurs are the markets change-makers who bring opportunity and inspiration together.”


Whit Hiler | Partner, Kentucky For Kentucky

“To me the nature of entrepreneurship is an addictive never-ending loop of dreaming, making, launching, marketing, innovating, learning, building, selling, convincing, pushing, grinding, questioning, gambling, winning, losing, ups, downs, risks, rewards, challenges, excitement, fear, thinking, re-thinking, working, re-working, having fun and sometimes not having fun.”

Lesa Mitchell | Managing Director, Techstars

“Entrepreneurship is a form of problem solving. If you are able to solve a problem that individuals or corporations have, they will pay you for it. Entrepreneurs need to make sure they are spending time on customer discovery assuring that there are customers to the solutions they are building. That applies whether you are developing a new grocery store or a new platform technology.”


Bernard Worthy | CEO, Loanwell

“Lot’s of people say that Entrepreneurship is like a marathon, but I’m more inclined to say it’s like a marriage. You’re on this exciting and committed journey with huge highs and low lows and lots of mundane. Discovering the sum of the parts at every turn and constantly creating new value through intuition, adaptation, and execution. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s 100 times harder than the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But, it’s worth it.”

Allie Burns | CEO, Village Capital

“Entrepreneurship is about solving problems – as we like to say at Village Capital, great entrepreneurs build “painkillers”, not “vitamins”, to address critical challenges in local, regional, and global communities. The nature of entrepreneurship is perpetually optimistic – a requirement to see around corners and persevere through inevitable setbacks. Finally, entrepreneurship is not a solo sport – founding teams, their families, early investors and customers, and mentors are a critical part of the entrepreneurial journey.”


David Taliaferro | CEO, Lenderfit

“The nature of entrepreneurship is personal growth by way of value creation for the whole. Few activities have such a profound and simultaneous effect on both the individual and society. Entrepreneurship without community is impossible, and a community that lacks entrepreneurship has unfulfilled potential.”

Patrick Henshaw | CEO, LEAP

“The nature of entrepreneurship is defined by a calculated risk taker who understands the drive behind the necessity of finding a solution to a problem. This measured risk includes the variables of resources, an empathetic discernment of customer needs, a distinct value proposition, depth of the competition and most importantly a specific point of difference. This nature is often embodied in essence before it materializes into tangible form and is most certainly solidified by determination, grit and tenacity to have and solve a problem rather than focusing on a specific solution. The nature of an entrepreneur is that of an innovator, a maker, a disrupter, a problem solver, and a passioned & determined individual who perseveres, loves the hustle, the hard work and is dedicated to do whatever it takes to transform an idea into a reality.”


Nikki Jackson | Senior Vice President, Louisville Branch of  Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 

“Entrepreneurship is a state of being. It’s not something that you do. It’s something that you are. It’s an undertaking that is merciless in its taking and unyielding in its giving. It requires dexterity, courage, tenacity and gumption. It requires potent clarity and comfortable confusion. It brings out the best of us and contributes to our entire economic ecosystem.”

Todd Nuckols | Executive Director, Lighthouse Land RVA

“The place where passion, connection, and measured risk intersect paint a picture of the nature of entrepreneurship for me. Without passion, you cannot dream and to dream forward to a different place be it leadership, economic change, societal impact is essential to entrepreneurship. If you cannot connect then you end up without support, encouragement, customers, providers and the friends needed to fuel the journey. And unlike many, I do not believe the nature of entrepreneurship is an unbridled risk taker. In fact, successful entrepreneurs understand loss, test and measure relentlessly to turn dreams into reality.”


Reilly Flynn | Managing Partner, GAN Ventures

“Effective and impactful entrepreneurship is a cocktail of creation, cultivation, and commercialization. Entrepreneurs harness their unique abilities and passions to create or curate a product or service, which they then nurture into being as a new institution which in turn becomes truly impactful on society when it is commercialized into a self-sustaining or profitable entity. This process also often becomes an act of self-exploration in which entrepreneurs are forced to confront their own strengths and short-comings in order to hire the right employees, pick the right partners, and weather the mental and emotional roller coaster of success and failure. At GAN Ventures we invest in founders who are passionate, on a mission, and self-aware because we believe these traits will give them the determination and resilience to slog through the muck and mire of founding and scaling a company.”


Edward Lee, chef and owner, 610 Magnolia & MilkWood

“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.”

Kristin Jordan & Dani Harris, Co-Founders, Knot & Company

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


Jecorey “1200” Arthur, Founder, 1200

“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.”

David Dafoe, Founder, Flavorman

“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.”


Madison Hamman | Managing Director, BlueSky Capital

“The nature of entrepreneurship is to see needs and fill needs. A successful entrepreneur does this with an uncanny balance of delusion, talent, work, and perseverance.”

Nick Baute, Founder, Hound Dog Press

“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.”


Laura Callanan | Founding Partner, Upstart Co-Lab

“An entrepreneur is smart but doesn’t have to show it. A sponge for information. Not motivated by money. And endlessly trying to build the better mousetrap.”

Patrick Riley | CEO, GAN 

“Entrepreneurship is leaning into the unknown while also having a vision for what could be. Entrepreneurs must believe what few others believe. They must create a vision that others will follow. It is an impossible job, but a job that our country and the world need if we are going to create more jobs, better products, and more thriving communities.”


Coty Hoskins | President, Clean Care

“The nature of entrepreneurship is an individual or group passionately risking their time and money as they create a unique value for their customers and team members. Entrepreneurs love (passion) what they do to the point that the fears (risks) are worth it. Entrepreneurs work (create) day in and day out to ensure that their customers receive the highest quality product or service (unique value #1) and that their team members receive care and investment (unique value #2).”

Greg Langdon, startup advisor

“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.”


Tendai Charasika, CEO, SuperFanU

“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.”

Gill HollandThe Group Entertainment

“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.”


Jonny Price | Director of Fundraising, Wefunder

“Entrepreneurship is creating something out of nothing. It’s taking risks, and taking action. Now. It’s supreme self-confidence that you’re right, when everyone is telling you you’re wrong. But at the same time, humility to ask questions, learn lessons, and pivot when you need to. It’s grit. It’s leadership. It’s people.”

Bryce Butler, Managing Partner, Access Ventures

“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.”


Maggie Keith | 4th-Generation Land Steward, Foxhollow Farm

“Entrepreneurship starts with passion and evolves with innovating and taking risks. It starts out being your whole life, taking every bit of you and teaching you persistence and patience. Then it evolves into this graceful balance of energy and light.”

Colleen Clines, Co-Founder & President/CEO, Anchal Project

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


Ben Reno-Weber | Co-founder, MobileServe

“Entrepreneurship means taking ownership of solving a problem that impacts multiple people. It can be a business problem, a personal problem, a social problem, but an entrepreneur is someone who creates something new to solve that problem and then casts it into the universe to succeed or fail.”

Matt Argo, Owner, Good Folks Coffee

“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.”

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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