What is an Entrepreneur?

Review this section to learn about entrepreneurs.

A Few Things to Know about Going into Business for Yourself

Figure 5.1

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook while a student at Harvard and, by age 27, has built up a personal wealth of $13.5 billion.


So what about you? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to start your own business? Maybe you want to try your hand at entrepreneurship. You could be the next Larry Page or Sergey Brin, cofounders of Google. Or the next David Marcks, a golf course manager who came up with the idea of Geese Police - training dogs to chase geese from golf courses, corporate parks, and municipal playgrounds. Or even the next Pierre Omidyar, the French-born software developer who built an online venue for person-to-person auctions, known as eBay.

You might even turn into a "serial entrepreneur" like Marcia Kilgore. After high school, she moved from Canada to New York City to attend Columbia University. But when her financial aid was delayed, she abandoned her plans to attend college and took a job as a personal trainer (a natural occupation for a former bodybuilder and middleweight title holder). But things got boring in the summer when her wealthy clients left the city for the Hamptons. To keep busy, she took a skin care course at a Manhattan cosmetology institute. As a teenager, she was self-conscious about her bad complexion and wanted to know how to treat it herself. She learned how to give facials and work with natural remedies. Her complexion improved, and she started giving facials to her fitness clients who were thrilled with the results. As demand for her services exploded, she started her first business - Bliss Spa - and picked up celebrity clients, including Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, and Jennifer Lopez. The business went international, and she sold it for more than $30 million.

But the story doesn't end here; she didn't just sit back and enjoy her good fortune. Instead, she launched two more companies: Soap and Glory, a supplier of affordable beauty products sold at Target, and FitFlops, which sells sandals that tone and tighten your leg muscles as you walk. And by the way, remember how Oprah loved Kilgore's skin care products? She also loves Kilgore's sandals and plugged them on her talk show. You can't get a better endorsement than that. Kilgore never did finish college, but when asked if she would follow the same path again, she said, "If I had to decide what to do all over again, I would make the same choices…I found by accident what I'm good at, and I'm glad I did".

For the sake of argument, let's say that you would like to know a little more about going into business for yourself - in which case, you'll want some answers to questions like the following:

  • Should I start a business?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of starting a business?
  • How do I come up with a business idea?
  • Should I build a business from scratch, buy an existing business, or invest in a franchise?
  • How do I go about planning a business?
  • What steps are involved in developing a business plan?
  • Where would I find help in getting my business started and operating it through the start-up phase?
  • How can I increase the likelihood that I'll succeed?

In this chapter, we'll provide some answers to questions like these.