Having the freedom and flexibility to start your own business is tempting for entrepreneurial-minded folk. It can mean setting your own schedule, working on projects you love, and opening up infinite earning potential.
While the term “entrepreneur” refers to people who create multiple streams of revenue through businesses and other money-making activities, not all entrepreneurs are the same.
Here are the most common types of entrepreneurs, what they do best, and how they approach starting a business.
10 most common types of entrepreneur
- The hustler
- The small business entrepreneur
- The scalable startup entrepreneur
- The large company entrepreneur
- The innovative entrepreneur
- The social entrepreneur
- The buyer entrepreneur
- The imitator entrepreneur
- The cautious entrepreneur
- The digital nomad
1. The hustler
Hustlers are willing to work hard with little capital to grow a business they think has potential. Usually, a hustler’s plans will start small and build up over time, but the term can also refer to people who start up a hobby business on the side of their 9-to-5. This might be an Etsy store to sell their crochet art or a freelance writing business to top up their monthly income.
The hustler isn’t always on the hunt for more money. They’re not even necessarily looking for a whole new career or a new day job, but a business that fits into their life and brings in some cash. The tricky part for a hustler is founding a business that doesn’t take over their week and doesn’t need too much hands-on attention. Having a successful side hustle means striking a balance between your work commitments, passions, and home life.
Examples of businesses a hustler can start:
- Selling art online
- Grocery delivery
- Transcription services
- Dog walking or pet sitting
- Freelance services like writing, design or video editing
2. The small business entrepreneur
A small business entrepreneur is someone who creates a business idea by themselves but plans to expand or franchise in the future. This term often refers to local business owners, like hairdressers, florists, or food trucks operators, but can also mean ecommerce operators. The starting goal is often launching a single store, but when the business starts to flourish, the entrepreneur can then start thinking about what’s next.
The businesses these entrepreneurs create are often born out of a passion for food, beauty, flowers, or whatever else they’re selling, in the hopes the entrepreneur can start a new career in something they love.
That dream came true for Sonja Detrinidad, founder of Partly Sunny Projects. She started selling plants online to relieve stress from her job in the mortgage industry. Her knack for plants allowed her to quit her job. During the pandemic, the California-based plant business exploded, helped greatly by TikTok, where she shares advice to more than 450,000 followers.
Examples of small businesses an entrepreneur can start:
- Nail or hair salon
- Flower shop
- Vintage store
- Café or restaurant
3. The scalable startup entrepreneur
Scalable startup entrepreneurs aim to build a business model that’s expandable. Unlike small business entrepreneurs, scalable startup owners have growth in mind from the very start, even if they come from very humble beginnings. Think of world-famous brands like Amazon, Google, and Shopify that all started small with the intention of changing the world.
Examples of businesses a scalable startup entrepreneur can start:
4. The large company entrepreneur
The large company entrepreneur is usually an advanced professional with a lot of business experience. The goal is to create or maintain a company that has multiple lifecycles with the idea of turning existing ideas and products into innovative new offerings. Large company entrepreneurs are constantly creating new services and products based on market demands and are focused on consistent growth.
Brands like Microsoft and Disney fall under this type of entrepreneurship, but small business entrepreneurs can also reach this level if their company grows particularly fast.
Examples of businesses a large company entrepreneur can start:
- Selling products or services acquired from existing brands
- New branches of a company, like a learning hub or an online shop
- Incubation programs to find fresh talent
5. The innovative entrepreneur
Innovative entrepreneurs are all about finding the next big thing.
Their hope is to come up with a groundbreaking idea that will solve a huge pain point or change an entire industry. Take Uber and Airbnb, for example. The innovator actively seeks out an opportunity to fill a gap in the market and be the first to offer something newer and better.
The Herbivorous Butcher is a completely vegan butcher in Minneapolis. Siblings Aubry and Kale Walch founded the company after finding faux-meat options at the grocery store to be lacking. They first tested their idea at a farmers market, found high demand for their meats and cheeses, and were eventually able to get funding for a brick-and-mortar operation, complemented by online sales.
Examples of businesses innovative entrepreneurs can start:
- An app to make an existing process easier
- A new take on an existing business model
- An alcohol-free bar
- A new piece of wearable technology
6. The social entrepreneur
Social entrepreneurship is focused on solving social problems and making the world a better place, whether it’s through sustainable products, community initiatives, or charity endeavors. This type of entrepreneur isn’t concerned about big profits or untethered wealth. Instead, they’re committed to working toward social good.
For example, the Grameen Foundation’s founder, Muhammad Yunus, won a Nobel Prize for his business idea. The company is a microfinance organization that helps women get out of poverty through low-interest loans.
Examples of businesses a social entrepreneur can start:
- Educational services
- Eco-friendly products
- High-speed internet for remote communities
- Apps for local alerts
7. The buyer entrepreneur
Instead of starting their own business or side hustle from scratch, a buyer entrepreneur will invest in other businesses. They’ll either purchase a well-established company and reap the rewards or help develop an existing company to help them thrive.
Don’t confuse this type of entrepreneur with investors or venture capitalists. Buyer entrepreneurship means getting involved in a business both financially and personally. It involves being an active part of growing the bought businesses. When a business is making a healthy profit, the buyer might hand over leadership to someone else while they work on their next investment, or they will remain an active part of the business.
Examples of businesses a buyer entrepreneur can start:
- Acquiring existing physical companies
- Creating an umbrella company with multiple subdivisions
- Property investing
- App or software acquisition
8. The imitator entrepreneur
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and this is the motivation behind imitator entrepreneurship.
Instead of coming up with new ideas, imitator entrepreneurs take inspiration from existing businesses. They don’t completely rip off the idea—they’ll work hard to improve the idea and fill any glaring gaps in the market. Imitators are good at learning from other people’s mistakes to ensure their businesses thrive, and they can come in all shapes and sizes, from a side hustle imitator to a large company imitator.
Kickstarter, for example, took inspiration from Indiegogo a year before it launched. It’s now one of the biggest crowdfunding sites in the world.
Examples of businesses an imitator entrepreneur can start:
- White labeling an existing well-known brand
- Replicating an existing product but with extra features
- Creating a copycat brand with better marketing
9. The cautious entrepreneur
Also known as researcher entrepreneurs, cautious entrepreneurs take their time when starting and growing a business. They do their due diligence, carry out research, and only go ahead with their plans when they’re certain they’ll succeed.
Cautious entrepreneurs rely on facts, data, and logic and will often create detailed business plans before getting started.
Examples of businesses a cautious entrepreneur can start can vary wildly—the differentiation is in the process they use to get started. Instead of diving in headfirst, this type of entrepreneur will spend months or years researching their market, product fit, and game plan.
10. The digital nomad
While many of the entrepreneurs listed here have the luxury of working from wherever they want, digital nomads make it a critical part of their business plan. They create businesses that they can work on anywhere, anytime, from a beach in Barbados to the bustling city streets of Tokyo.
The goal is the freedom to travel as much as possible. Most digital nomads run businesses from their laptops and often use skills like copywriting, designing, coaching, and teaching to earn money.
Chris Cage, founder of Greenbelly Meals, started his business as a digital nomad in Thailand and grew it while traveling the world. An avid hiker and cyclist, Chris saw a hole in the camping and hiking food market, and seized the opportunity to create nutritious, convenient meals.
As a digital nomad, he wanted to start a business that would allow him to travel.
“There are a lot of cities across the globe that have great set ups to work on your business,” Chris told the Shopify Masters podcast.
Examples of businesses a digital nomad can start:
What type of entrepreneur are you?
As you can see, the type of entrepreneurs running businesses varies greatly. Innovative entrepreneurship? Large company entrepreneurship? Scalable startup entrepreneurship? Small business entrepreneurship? Which one is best for you?
The entrepreneurs you relate to the most will ultimately depend on your skills, passions, and goals, both in business and in life. If you want to create purpose-driven initiatives, then you might align better with social entrepreneurs, but if you want to create the next big thing, you probably skew more toward innovative entrepreneurship.
Types of entrepreneurs FAQ
What types of entrepreneurs are there?
- The hustler: Starts a side hustle or multiple businesses at once.
- The small business entrepreneur: Starts small with an ambition to grow.
- The scalable startup entrepreneur: Has growth in mind at all times.
- The large company entrepreneur: Leverages the resources of an existing business.
- The innovative entrepreneur: Aims to come up with the “next big thing.”
- The social entrepreneur: Focused on creating a business for social good.
- The buyer entrepreneur: Buys and invests in existing businesses.
- The imitator entrepreneur: Takes inspiration from existing businesses.
- The cautious entrepreneur: Researches and plans well in advance.
- The digital nomad: Travels the world while working from a laptop.