It’s hard to imagine how entrepreneurs and employees differ if you’ve never been self-employed.
The main differences you know about entrepreneurs are: they have freedom, independence, wealth, businesses, and an amazing lifestyle.
However, as a former 9-to-5er, I can tell you that there are significantly more differences between being an entrepreneur vs being an employee.
Ever wonder why most people choose to stay in the comfort of jobs they hate?
It’s because working for yourself isn’t as sexy as you think. You’ve gotta be on another level to do that.
In this post, you’ll get an idea of what that level is by learning the differences between entrepreneurs and employees.
Let’s jump in.
- How do Entrepreneurs and Employees Differ?
- 1. Entrepreneurs are courageous people
- 2. Entrepreneurs are self-motivated
- 3. Entrepreneurs have tons of self-confidence
- 4. Entrepreneurs aren't afraid of failure
- 5. Entrepreneurs are visionaries
- 6. Entrepreneurs control their own capital
- 7. Entrepreneurs have strong work ethic
- 8. Entrepreneurs have unconventional mindsets
- 9. Entrepreneurs are remarkably resilient
- 10. Entrepreneurs aren't afraid to take risks
- 11. Entrepreneurs value their time
- 12. Entrepreneurs can handle critics (aka haters)
- 13. Entrepreneurs are great innovators
- 14. Entrepreneurs follow routines and rituals
- 15. Entrepreneurs have analytical minds
- 16. Entrepreneurs know how to network
- 17. Entrepreneurs are extremely ambitious
- 18. Entrepreneurs don't give up or quit easily
- 19. Entrepreneurs have unlimited earning potential
- 20. Entrepreneurs are optimistic
- 21. Entrepreneurs obsess about their pursuits
- 22. Entrepreneurs are very creative
- 23. Entrepreneurs believe they'll succeed
- 24. Entrepreneurs never stop learning
- 25. Entrepreneurs have freedom and independence
- 26. Entrepreneurs are incredibly resourceful
- 27. Entrepreneurs prioritize systems over goals
- 28. Entrepreneurs are self-disciplined
- 29. Entrepreneurs view obstacles as opportunities
- 30. Entrepreneurs don't believe in procrastination
- 31. Entrepreneurs are highly adaptable
- 32. Entrepreneurs are savvy sales people
- 33. Entrepreneurs reject the status quo
- 34. Entrepreneurs have unflinching determination
- 35. Entrepreneurs hang with winners
- 36. Entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes
- 37. Entrepreneurs are passionate about their work
- 38. Entrepreneurs are wealth creators
- 39. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers
- 40. Entrepreneurs are superb leaders
- 41. Entrepreneurs don't ask for permission
- 42. Entrepreneurs excel at decision-making
- 43. Entrepreneurs set SMART goals
- 44. Entrepreneurs are insanely productive
- 45. Entrepreneurs aren't afraid to ask for help
- Final Take
How do Entrepreneurs and Employees Differ?
You probably already know what it’s like to be an employee. So here’s a list of traits showing why entrepreneurs are different.
1. Entrepreneurs are courageous people
Imagine starting a business and it goes bankrupt, causing you to lose your home and family…
What’re you gonna do?
Maybe you’ll get depressed, have a major breakdown, or find yourself googling tall buildings and bridges nearby.
The point is it takes guts to be an entrepreneur. You’ve gotta have the heart of a lion, the memory of a goldfish, and the emotion of a stone.
It’s one of the greatest skills of a successful entrepreneur.
If you step into the world of entrepreneurship expecting rainbows and sunshine, you’re gonna get a roundhouse kick to the face.
2. Entrepreneurs are self-motivated
Almost all employees are motivated by a paycheck.
Every employer knows this. That’s why they’re always looking for ways to incentivize workers to be more productive.
Even entrepreneurs do it in their own companies. But when it comes to their personal efforts…
Entrepreneurs are motivated by a strong ‘why’. It’s the driving force that pushes them toward success and away from corporate slavery.
As Nietzsche said…
“If we have our own why in life, we shall get along with almost any how.”
This is how entrepreneurs differ from employees.
3. Entrepreneurs have tons of self-confidence
Anyone who willingly stays in a job where they’re treated poorly, grossly underpaid, and always worried about layoffs… has almost no self-confidence.
Yes, that’s a controversial statement.
But if it wasn’t true, most people would leave their jobs. If not to start a business, then at least to find a better gig.
There’s no shortage of self-confidence when it comes to entrepreneurs.
They trust in their abilities and judgement. That’s why they would rather bet on themselves than work for someone else.
Self-confidence isn’t just for entrepreneurship, it can also have a positive impact on your personal life.
4. Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of failure
“What if I fail?”
That phrase has probably crossed your mind at least once in your lifetime.
If you’ve ever thought about quitting your job to start your own business, the first obstacle you encounter is the thought of failure.
While most people have this problem, entrepreneurs don’t.
To them, failure isn’t the end of the world. They see it as part of the process of trying to do something worthwhile.
Failure is simply an obstacle standing between you and success. Learning how to overcome it is one of the best entrepreneurial traits you can have.
It will benefit you both personally and professionally.
5. Entrepreneurs are visionaries
Being a visionary means having the ability to imagine the future and see yourself achieving a specific goal.
It’s a bit like chess, where grandmasters can see 10 steps ahead of weaker opponents.
But instead of defeating someone, entrepreneurs visualize growth and success.
Their visions are so clear that all they have to do each day is wake up and step into their vision.
It’s one of the most unique personality traits of entrepreneurs.
6. Entrepreneurs control their own capital
Capital is anything you own that makes you money e.g. your home, stocks, business, etc.
A job is NOT one of them because your employer owns it – or rather, owns you.
Most entrepreneurs make their money like employees, through labor.
The difference is, they own and control the companies they work for. So it’s easier for them to acquire other income-generating assets.
As your acquisitions increase, more of your income will come from capital rather than labor.
That’s the power of ownership. It creates wealth.
If you study the skills and characteristics of entrepreneurs, you’ll learn how to create your own version of wealth.
7. Entrepreneurs have strong work ethic
Despite what you believe, a strong work ethic does not mean showing up to work early, grinding for 12 hours, and going home late.
That’s just dumb.
Even CEOs don’t work that hard, and they earn over 2500% more than you!
Work ethic means something totally different for entrepreneurs.
It’s the time you spend developing your craft. How you ensure your actions align with your ambitions. And the established morals and values you adhere to in pursuit of success.
Those are all essential characteristics of entrepreneurs.
8. Entrepreneurs have unconventional mindsets
Employers will always have control over your thoughts and actions for the duration of your employment.
That’s the price you pay for pimping out 33% of your day.
While you may be fine with that, entrepreneurs aren’t. They reject conventional wisdom and think differently.
Instead of selling out, their brains push them toward opportunities, innovation, and new value creation.
Everything else is reserved for people with poor mindsets.
It’s another good example of how entrepreneurs differ from workers.
9. Entrepreneurs are remarkably resilient
An employee’s biggest fear is losing their job.
In addition to feeling defeated, most people struggle to bounce back from getting fired.
Some even quit trying to find employment, which was the case following the Covid-19 pandemic.
But entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of quitting. They choose to endure all the ups and downs.
Setbacks are just opportunities for them to learn and grow.
Having the resilience to quickly overcome obstacles, is one of the best attributes of an entrepreneur.
10. Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to take risks
Why do most people spend a third of their lives trading 5 days for 2?
It’s because they have low risk tolerance. To them, a job is the safe option.
They’re afraid to do anything else, even if it means finding a better paying job.
But entrepreneurs are risk takers. They know that low risks almost always lead to low rewards.
That’s true in both your financial and personal life.
So they choose to pursue a more rewarding life by taking risks and doing what average people think is impossible.
11. Entrepreneurs value their time
Everyone thinks entrepreneurs only care about getting rich.
That’s 100% true. But not for the reasons you imagine.
Despite the mansions, cars, yachts, and other luxuries… nothing is more valuable to an entrepreneur than TIME.
It’s a limited resource. And the only way to get more of it is to buy it from others who value it less i.e. employees.
This is one of the best kept secrets of successful entrepreneurs.
It’s what gives them privilege to spend hours working on things they love, chilling with family, and living amazing lives.
12. Entrepreneurs can handle critics (aka haters)
This is a huge difference between entrepreneur and employee.
From the moment you decide to become an entrepreneur, critics will emerge like roaches.
Your friends and family will criticize you for not having a job. Customers will criticize your business. And if you have employees, they’ll criticize your leadership skills.
Some entrepreneurs ignore the noise but others welcome it.
At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter.
Because you won’t be defeated by what others say about you… you will be defeated by what you say about yourself.
There’s a reason why negativity isn’t one of the entrepreneurial personality traits.
13. Entrepreneurs are great innovators
Fun fact: the number of innovative employees in the world is much less than the number of entrepreneurs.
Most people think it’s because only geniuses are capable of innovation.
That’s 100% false!
There are lots of smart people in high-paying jobs who are dumb. Just browse a few threads on Hacker News and you’ll notice this.
When people say entrepreneurs are innovative, it doesn’t always mean they’re creating new products or services. Very few entrepreneurs do that.
The majority actually innovate by doing things like implementing old ideas to modern problems, applying techniques from one industry to another, or copying and improving a competitor’s product/service.
The bottomline is: you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be a great innovator.
14. Entrepreneurs follow routines and rituals
Going to work is the only routine you follow consistently.
Outside of that, everything else usually happens based on how you feel. Yes, this includes gym and other obligations.
Even if you have routines, they lack the same consistency as your job because you can’t be fired for slacking off.
By contrast, entrepreneurs strongly believe in having things like daily routines or morning rituals.
Not only does it add structure to their day and make them effective, it also helps them develop unbreakable habits.
It’s another one of the personal characteristics of entrepreneurs you should steal.
15. Entrepreneurs have analytical minds
Have you ever watched a Formula 1 race?
Apart from driving, the most important skill is mental acuity. Drivers have to process info on the fly from a variety of sources to increase their chances of winning.
Similarly, that’s how an entrepreneur’s mind works.
They must analyze multiple data points to keep the business running like a well-oiled machine.
Otherwise, their business will just coast, stagnate, or fail.
Being able to think critically is one of the entrepreneurial skills you need to succeed.
16. Entrepreneurs know how to network
If you’re trying to raise money for your startup, recruit engineers, get clients, form partnerships, acquire companies, etc… you need good networking skills.
Most entrepreneurs know that you can’t build an empire from the depths of a basement. It rarely happens.
That’s why they spend so much time connecting with potential customers or people in specific industries.
It’s one of the most useful personal qualities of an entrepreneur.
As the saying goes…
“Your network is your net worth.”
17. Entrepreneurs are extremely ambitious
If you’re willing to sacrifice 30 years of your life in a job with limited financial or professional growth… you have no ambition.
Hey, if that’s all you need in life to be happy, cool. Not everyone has high standards.
For instance, entrepreneurs set their personal achievement bars beyond the limits of most people’s imagination.
They seek to do things so big, it scares people with small minds.
But that’s what it takes to be successful and live the type of lifestyle everyone else talks and dreams about.
Want the same life? Then just copy the skills and characteristics of an entrepreneur.
18. Entrepreneurs don’t give up or quit easily
Let’s be real here… most people struggle just to get out of bed and go to work.
If you think they’re capable of handling the hard work and stress of entrepreneurship, you’ve lost your mind!
Sure, it’s possible for anyone to change. Lots of everyday people have become entrepreneurs.
But the reality is, you’re more likely to give up during the idea phase.
Because finding a good business idea takes a little effort.
The bottomline is: entrepreneurs never give up.
19. Entrepreneurs have unlimited earning potential
You can’t get rich earning an average income and paying regular income taxes.
Even with salary increases and employer-matched 401(k)s, it’s mathematically impossible to increase your income exponentially.
But as an entrepreneur, you have unlimited earning potential.
Your business can generate more money in many ways such as:
- Adding clients
- Raising prices
- Expanding your offerings
And if it’s an online business, it’ll make money while you sleep.
Try doing that with your 9-to-5.
20. Entrepreneurs are optimistic
In 2020, the U.S. economy tanked because of a pandemic.
Millions of people lost their jobs. Fear and panic skyrocketed as people began to worry about their future.
But despite the chaos, entrepreneurs saw things differently. They were hopeful about the future.
That’s one of the great personality traits of an entrepreneur.
Instead of freaking out, they chose to improve operations, expand, invest, or start new ventures.
Ultimately, their optimism paid off because the economy bounced back stronger than the force of a Jedi.
21. Entrepreneurs obsess about their pursuits
In the battle of entrepreneur vs employee, only one cares very little about their job.
In fact, employees spend more time complaining about work or dreaming about making more money than self-employed people.
But you can’t blame them. After all, they’re not entrepreneurs!
If they were, they’d have a deeper obsession for everything they do.
When an entrepreneur gets a thought or idea etched in their mind, it’s hard for them to resist pursuing it.
22. Entrepreneurs are very creative
If you don’t think entrepreneurs are creative, you’re just a hater!
It takes a lot of creativity to be able to turn an idea into a full blown business.
Some of the most exciting startups began as ideas on small 6×6-inch napkins.
That level of creative genius also extends to running a successful business.
It’s another one of the many skills entrepreneurs need to be successful. And if you’re smart, you’ll try to develop it.
23. Entrepreneurs believe they’ll succeed
When Elon Musk decided to start a car company, most people said he’d fail.
The same thing happened to Jeff Bezos and other trailblazers.
But regardless of what other people thought, these entrepreneurs strongly believed that they would achieve success.
If you don’t have that sort of conviction in your own pursuits, the naysayers will win.
Then you’ll just end up being another essential worker.
Now, you might argue that belief in oneself should be number one on this list of entrepreneur personality traits. Top 5 at least.
And you know what? You’re right.
It’s definitely one of the most important personal attributes of an entrepreneur.
24. Entrepreneurs never stop learning
Learning new office software, doing weekly sales training, or attending a business conference.
Those are a few ways companies try to improve their workforce. Unsurprisingly, most employees hate it.
But entrepreneurs value personal development. They’ll gladly invest hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars to improve themselves.
That’s why so many of them read books and hire coaches. If it helps them grow personally and professionally, it’s totally worth it.
Most people aren’t born with the skills needed to be an entrepreneur. You have to learn and develop them over time.
Anyone who detests learning is content with living a monotonous life.
25. Entrepreneurs have freedom and independence
If you’ve got a full-time job like most people, that means someone owns at least 40 hours of your week (and your life).
You’ve got a boss, have to ask permission to do stuff, and need to dress a certain way.
In addition to that, doing or saying the wrong thing outside of work will quickly get you fired (i.e. canceled).
It’s a lot of power and control over your life that you willingly give up to someone else.
Yeah, even the worst entrepreneur knows that’s a crappy deal.
26. Entrepreneurs are incredibly resourceful
Most employees focus on fulfilling their job requirements and nothing else.
Anything beyond that and you’ll hear things like “not my job” or “not in the job description.”
As far as initiative goes, there is none.
You won’t see this type of behavior in entrepreneurs. If something needs to be done, they quickly find clever ways to make it happen – no matter what.
They’re scrappy hustlers.
Being resourceful is a one of the more common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
27. Entrepreneurs prioritize systems over goals
Every employee should set goals in their personal and professional lives.
Unfortunately, most goals end up in the graveyard… like all the new year resolutions.
Because they lack proper systems.
You see, entrepreneurs know that goals are finite. Something you only complete once.
That’s why they set big audacious goals then focus on building systems to achieve the result of those goals over and over.
Basically, goals go stale while systems scale.
28. Entrepreneurs are self-disciplined
Not many employees can resist coworker banter, extended lunches, or happy hour hangouts.
Those are actually some of the few luxuries that entrepreneurs can’t afford.
Avoiding such distractions to continue working on their goals requires a high level of self-discipline.
It’s a small price to pay for the lifestyle everyone else will be gossiping about in the office, at lunch, or during happy hour.
If you’re smart, you’ll focus on improving your own self-discipline.
29. Entrepreneurs view obstacles as opportunities
Obstacles exist to deter you from getting something you really want.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a great example.
When people lost their jobs, most of them stuck around waiting for the government or someone else to fix things.
But a few smart folks used it as an opportunity to improve themselves, start a business, invest, or find better careers.
The art of turning obstacles into opportunities is one of the unique entrepreneur skills that can make you successful.
30. Entrepreneurs don’t believe in procrastination
Procrastination is a myth.
The reason deadlines are missed or work gets delayed is because of YOU!
When you let things pile up and wait until the last minute to tackle them, your work suffers.
This is why entrepreneurs don’t believe in procrastination. To them, it’s all about priorities.
If something’s not important to you, you’ll just ignore it. For instance…
Black Friday sale? You’re there for door-busters. That TPS report? You’ll deal with it another day.
Next time you’re wondering how do entrepreneurs differ from employees, just check how you handle priorities.
31. Entrepreneurs are highly adaptable
Running a business is not a fluid process.
There’s always some unforeseen problem waiting to stick a monkey wrench in your plans.
But instead of freaking out and panicking when things change or go sideways, a good entrepreneur adapts to the situation.
They tweak their strategy to ensure the business survives or thrives in periods of uncertainty.
It’s kinda like a captain navigating the Suez Canal… without grounding the ship.
This is one of those successful entrepreneur characteristics you can’t help but admire and respect.
32. Entrepreneurs are savvy sales people
Sales is something you either love or hate.
You’d be thrilled to get that home in Vancouver, BC for 85% below asking. Or…
You’d want to stone the door-to-door salesman trying to sell you a home security system.
Entrepreneurs don’t have this dilemma because they don’t get emotional about selling.
If they know the product or service they’re selling is legit (not diet pills), they feel obligated to get it in front of as many people as possible.
33. Entrepreneurs reject the status quo
Society says you must get an education, find a job, and mortgage decades of your life for a nice comfortable living.
That’s the status quo most people conform to.
Unsurprisingly, every entrepreneur thinks that’s absolutely ridiculous.
Instead of selling their souls for a “secure” job, they choose to chart their own destiny…
One that will allow them to live extraordinarily.
34. Entrepreneurs have unflinching determination
This is one of the few entrepreneur traits that can’t be taught.
Someone once joked that the hardest work most employees do is trying to get a job.
It sorta makes sense because you need determination to submit hundreds of job applications, go through tons of grueling interviews, and face rejection.
But once hired, that level of determination quickly dies.
That’s not the case for entrepreneurs.
They’ve got a similar drive to do or achieve something. The difference is, it never fades.
Even when things get rough or they complete a task, they maintain a consistent level of focus and determination.
35. Entrepreneurs hang with winners
Spending most of your day around coworkers is the best way to get nowhere fast.
You’re just crabs in a barrel with capped potential and shallow futures – especially if your jobs are similar.
Obviously, that’s not a winning environment.
Every entrepreneur knows this, which is why they surround themselves with smart people.
They also seek out those successful entrepreneurs who’ve achieved what they’re chasing.
This is how you grow personally and professionally. Basically, winning begets winning.
36. Entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes
Successful people rarely make the same mistake twice.
It’s one of the cool traits and characteristics of an entrepreneur.
There are two reasons for this…
Firstly, mistakes can cause loss of time, money, productivity, or other resources. Big or small, it can have a severe impact on the business.
And secondly, entrepreneurs view mistakes as valuable lessons. They use them to improve the business and prevent future issues, or they identify potential business opportunities from those mistakes.
Learning from experience is one of the most valuable types of education you can get without a degree.
37. Entrepreneurs are passionate about their work
This shouldn’t surprise you. While most employees hate their jobs, entrepreneurs love theirs.
It’s one of the main reasons why they can put in 60-80 hours a week without missing a beat.
Perhaps what Steve Jobs said was true…
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
By contrast, the average employee dreads the idea of working past 40 hours.
They can’t wait to get the hell out of dodge once they’re off the clock.
38. Entrepreneurs are wealth creators
Unless you chose a high-paying career or held shares in a company that IPOed…
It’s virtually impossible to create wealth as an employee.
This excludes stock investing. Very few people have the financial chops to do that.
In terms of creating wealth from nothing, entrepreneurs are the only ones who actually do it.
But not just for themselves. They also create wealth for others.
That’s why they get rewarded extremely well for starting a successful business.
It’s one of the most impressive skills of an entrepreneur.
39. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers
In life and work, most people tend to ignore or run from their problems.
But entrepreneurs thrive on finding solutions to theirs.
It’s actually the reason they choose to start businesses.
They either had a personal problem they wanted solved, or they saw that the market desperately needed a specific product/service.
This desire to solve problems is another reason why entrepreneurs are more successful than employees.
40. Entrepreneurs are superb leaders
Leadership is another one of those entrepreneur qualities you can’t teach.
You could make the argument that some employees do a good job of leading others.
While that may be true, leading coworkers on a few projects is vastly different than leading an entire company.
Even if you disagree, the reality is it takes a certain type of person to be a great leader.
Entrepreneurs have to convince others of their own ideas. They constantly have to inspire, motivate, delegate, and make critical decisions.
They’re also responsible for the development of others, which is vital to the growth and success of the company.
Being a leader like Ford or Carnegie isn’t easy. You need next-level brilliance.
That’s how you earn respect and get rewarded in life.
41. Entrepreneurs don’t ask for permission
When you have a job, you need permission for everything.
Got a cool marketing idea? Need to run it by management.
Found a way to save money? It needs to be reviewed and voted upon.
The amount of bureaucracy is insane!
Entrepreneurs ain’t got time for all that. Instead of sitting at home waiting for others’ approval…
They believe it’s better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.
If they worried about all the red tape, they’d never become successful.
This is another one of those distinct traits of an entrepreneur. They’re doers.
42. Entrepreneurs excel at decision-making
While the average person can’t decide what to order for lunch, an entrepreneur has to make hundreds of decisions everyday.
Many of those decisions need to be made instantly without hesitation.
It puts a lot of pressure and responsibility on them to ensure their decisions don’t negatively affect the business or it’s stakeholders.
Whether they have full confidence in the decision or not, they must be comfortable with the potential outcome.
And they need to be, since entrepreneurs take calculated risks frequently.
43. Entrepreneurs set SMART goals
Whether personal or business-related, every successful entrepreneur has goals.
Unlike most people whose goals and resolutions die after January, entrepreneurs actually stick with theirs long enough to see results.
Those results are then assessed at specific times to determine how they’re affecting progress.
Entrepreneurs then use that data to adjust their current goals or create new ones.
This is the true beauty of using the SMART goal system.
If you plan on emulating the personal characteristics of an entrepreneur, you can’t go wrong with goal-setting.
44. Entrepreneurs are insanely productive
Most full-time office jobs involve 8-hour workdays. But at least 30-40% of that time gets wasted.
Unnecessary meetings and other distractions lead to low productivity.
In order to avoid that, entrepreneurs focus on doing what Cal Newport calls “deep work.”
They spend 3-5 hours working on important tasks “in a state of distraction-free concentration.”
This allows them to push their cognitive limits and get more done in less time.
By the way, these aren’t just skills for entrepreneurs…
You can also increase your personal productivity by learning how to do deep work.
45. Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to ask for help
Asking for help at work is almost as taboo as talking about religion, politics, and salaries.
Employees think they’ll look incompetent if they ask, which could make them expendable in the next round of layoffs.
But the truth is, they’re just scared.
Since embarrassment isn’t on the list of entrepreneur qualities and characteristics…
Entrepreneurs have zero reservations about asking their contacts or complete strangers for help.
Surprisingly, this happens frequently in the realm of entrepreneurship. You can see a lot of it on Twitter.
Strangers networking, helping each other, and forming relationships. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
If you made it this far, you now know that being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.
Some people are born to do it. Others develop their entrepreneur skills and characteristics from running their own businesses.
While it’s possible for anyone to become an entrepreneur, the only person who really knows if you can do it is… YOU.
Everything you need is literally in the palm of your hand. You just have to decide if you’re going to use that device to pollute your mind with digital garbage, or you’re going to consume content that’ll help you become successful.
At the very least, if someone asks you to tell them how do entrepreneurs and employees differ, you can easily share what you learned today.
In fact, there are tons of people who are still curious. So click the buttons below to share this post and help them out.