ASK THE WOMAN FOR MONEY: Small business owners and entrepreneurs are the backbone of every community, but aren’t the same

Dear Money Lady, is there a difference between an entrepreneur and a small business owner?


Dear Jack,


Most people think you have to be an entrepreneur to be a small business owner. Not true.

A small business owner is just that: running a small business of his own, an existing business, or a franchise of a larger corporation.

An entrepreneur is very different. Yes, they could also be small business owners. However, entrepreneurs are found every day in large corporations across the country, often in sales, marketing and management positions.

An entrepreneur is a unique person who has the ability to think differently than most others. They are founders, creators, inventors and risk takers. They often come from humble beginnings or were overlooked by others when they were young. Entrepreneurs crave knowledge to educate themselves further and advance their position in life. They all have a deep work ethic (more so than the average Canadian) and as driven freelancers they refuse to get bogged down in failures, but instead remain optimistic and open-minded towards learning, people and their past circumstances.

One trait that all entrepreneurs have, and which essentially sums up the difference between the masses and the successful, is their ability to pivot their thinking, actions, and direction in life. Successful entrepreneurs can take a bad situation and turn it to their advantage.

The fact is, if you look back at the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, you’ll see that they’ve all had to go in many different directions in their lives than they originally planned or envisioned. It wasn’t easy, but they endured it, with an even-tempered attitude, seizing new opportunities as they presented themselves, not getting stuck in self-destructive mindsets and always being receptive to the change and criticism.

Small business owners are much more conservative, often trying to make a living. They want to work to pay their bills and follow the status quo or established business model. They are usually involved in all aspects of their business, usually performing repetitive tasks while working towards long-term goals.

The small business owner strives for consistent profits rather than the high returns and rapid growth sought by the entrepreneur. Small businesses are often treasured by their owners and treated as a family heirloom. It is their livelihood but also a source of personal pride.

Entrepreneurs are not the same. They are driven by passion, innovation and opportunity. They want to make an impact and quickly move on to the next big thing if something isn’t working. Small business owners want to stay grounded, support their communities, and tend to be much more adaptable to the needs of their customers.

Whether you or someone you know is a small business owner or entrepreneur, the one thing they have in common is that they are all actors. They’re doing it. No matter what life throws at them, they keep fighting. They are action-oriented, humble and client-focused, determined to succeed and fearless in the face of future turbulence and adversity.

These are the two types of people who form the backbone of every community and province in Canada.

If you’re thinking about becoming a small business owner or entrepreneur, here are some resources that might help you get started:

  1. BDC, Business Development Bank of Canada
  2. Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce (in your community)
  3. CAWEE, Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs
  4. CFIB, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  5. CAFE, Canadian Association of Family Businesses

Good luck and best wishes,
ATML – Christine Ibbotson

Written by Christine Ibbotson, national radio host and author of three books on finance, as well as the Canadian bestseller How to Retire Debt Free & Wealthy. Visit or send a question to [email protected]

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