Employee vs. Entrepreneur: 8 Differences

Are you an entrepreneur? If you answered “no” because you don’t own a business, know this: Being an entrepreneur doesn’t require owning a business any more than being an accountant requires working for an accounting firm.

Related: 9 ‘Mindsets’ You Need to Switch From Employee to Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is all about mindset. So, are you an entrepreneur, or an employee? Let’s find out:

1. Entrepreneurs improve their skills; employees improve their weaknesses.
If you’ve ever been on a job interview, you’ve probably answered this question: “What have you done to improve your weaknesses?” This is a sensible question . . . to an employee. After all, employees are taught that weaknesses are bad and that they should be improved.

Not entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs view focusing on weaknesses as futile; instead, they draw on their strengths.

2. Entrepreneurs may produce lousy work; employees are perfectionists.
Employees, constantly under the watchful eye of their bosses, strive for perfectionism. After all, nobody wants a black mark on that all-important performance review.

Yet entrepreneurs thrive on lousy work, because putting out lousy work means that at least they’re producing, and it’s better to create and fail than to not have created at all.

Related: Cultivating The Mindset of a Successful Entrepreneur

3. Entrepreneurs say ‘no’ to opportunities; employees embrace them.
Warren Buffet said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Entrepreneurs, then flex their “no” muscle often to maintain their focus on what matters. Employees, on the other hand, say “yes” to everything because they fear that if they say ‘no’ to an opportunity, they’ll miss out on their big break.

4. Entrepreneurs delegate; employees practice ‘DIY.’
Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to get things off their plate. They know the monetary value of their time, and focus on the things only they can do.

Employees are the opposite. They try to do everything themselves, and see it as a weakness when they can’t juggle it all. They try to know every single aspect of the business. The mantra “If you want it done right, do it yourself” is the employee’s mantra.

5. Entrepreneurs mono-task; employees (try to) multitask.
There’s no such thing as multitasking. Despite what employers want, this statement is true. Studies show it’s impossible for our brains to focus effectively on more than one thing at a time.

Entrepreneurs recognize that multitasking means doing nothing well, so they “mono-task” instead.

Employees, however, are trained to worship multitasking and beat themselves up when their brains won’t cooperate.

6. Entrepreneurs thrive on risk; employees avoid it.
If you ask many people in the employee mindset why they won’t start a business, they’ll say they need the security of their day jobs. Not having access to a pension, steady paycheck or health insurance is too risky, they say.

Yet entrepreneurs thrive on risk.

Without risk, there’s no reward, and rather than scaring entrepreneurs away, this knowledge invigorates them. As Peter Drucker said, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

7. Entrepreneurs believe in seasons; employees believe in balance.
Ahh, work/life balance. That is every employee’s most coveted dream, the most sought-after treasure.

But entrepreneurs know that balance isn’t achievable. Instead of seeking balance, they believe that to excel in one area of their lives, others will suffer. They accept that the areas of their lives rotate through seasons.

Instead of fighting for an unachievable balance, they recognize that one thing will always have to take precedence over the others.

8. Employees are threatened by smarter people; entrepreneurs hire them.
In the corporate jungle, it’s survival of the fittest. If you’re not the smartest, most well-connected or hardest-working person in your department, you’re stuck at that bottom rung of the ladder.

Employees, therefore, are threatened by those who are smarter than they. They view the smarter guys as competition.

Entrepreneurs hire those people. They know that without a great team, their business will fail, so they hire up.

You don’t have to be a startup CEO or even own your own business to be an entrepreneur, but the entrepreneurial mindset is one that attracts success.

And the really good news is that there are many different ways in which you can apply these mindsets to become successful at whatever you choose to do with your career.