Most privately held businesses are either referred to as small businesses or entrepreneurs. I find both terms distasteful when discussing a privately held business owner.
Here are some of the reasons I dislike both terms:
Most successful business owners I know don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs. Most of the people I know who own their own businesses think entrepreneurs are often wannabe business owners. They don’t have the discipline to make a business work. This group often refers to themselves as entrepreneurs.
A real private business owner sets up systems, makes their business tactically excellent, and thinks about creating enterprise value. An entrepreneur is someone who comes up with great ideas but never can make those ideas into a “real business.”
Small business refers to someone who can’t run a big business. Small businesses are often referred to as “cute” in the financial and business press. Although the term cute is not often used it’s what I interpret the press is actually saying.
Smaller businesses do have different problems from their larger brethren and most small businesses will likely stay small. At the same time there are many positives about smaller privately held businesses.
I believe privately held business is a more descriptive term. If I’m going to use jargon (and we all do that) I like my jargon to be descriptive of what I’m talking about. I love the term privately held business owner. I never use entrepreneur unless it really is an entrepreneur and never use the term small business owner.
The reason I don’t use either of those terms is because it doesn’t describe what I’m talking about. A privately held business has many common characteristics with a small business. At the same time we’re pigeon holing what that business is and we have a definition problem with describing how small a small business is.
If I use the term privately held business it doesn’t matter what the size is; it just matters what the ownership structure of that business is. Yes larger businesses will have different issues than smaller ones but in essence most private businesses have much in common.
How do you think about your business? Do you think of yourself as a private business owners, entrepreneur, or small business owner? Do you think of yourself as all three?