From the time we are children we are taught that words have meaning, and that when used correctly they can be powerful. Since November is National Entrepreneurship Month we decided to look up the origination of entrepreneur and see how it is defined today.

It comes from the French word entreprendre which means ‘to undertake’ or ‘to take control.’ That sounds about right since entrepreneurs take control of their business, their work, and also their lives to invent and develop a business based on a gut instinct that they can do it and make it work.

Next we looked up the word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for a modern definition. It is defined as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Perhaps that’s an over simplification of what it truly means to be the one who envisions, oversees, and directs the future of this small universe you create by yourself.

Finally, we looked up synonyms. But the synonyms that this well-known dictionary offers for a word that embodies so much aren’t really accurate replacements for it. Words like merchant, dealer, and tradesman don’t really capture the hard work, long days, and excitement of landing a new client or inventing a new product. Less-flattering words like hawker, huckster, and hustler are also offered, but they don’t illustrate the vision, passion, and excitement that is needed to make a dream work.

Maybe that’s because the word entrepreneur itself, and those who embody it, can’t be defined by any other word. (Watch our “What It Means to be an Entrepreneur” video series below to hear from six small business owners inside the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center.)


Incubation Program Manager, David Dunn says, “Entrepreneurs are one of the essential components of economic development everywhere.  These innovators willingly accept the financial risks of starting a business with the hope of enjoying some of the financial and lifestyle rewards as they grow.  They create the most jobs, they contribute to the tax base and they improve the quality of life in our community. We proudly support them because their success is our success, and we are eager to help them get off the ground.”

To celebrate National Entrepreneurship Month, we met with six entrepreneurs in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center and asked them questions about their journeys, as well as for advice for budding entrepreneurs. The four embedded videos below each focus on their responses to the individual questions. We suggest watching them all in any order to get the full picture of what being an entrepreneur means to them.

Here are a few highlights:

What words of advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?

“Do the one thing that scares you the most, and entrepreneurship is exactly that. You have to be able to battle your fear and go against what scares you the most because within that are the lessons. Seeking failure is where you are going to grow. And that’s entrepreneurship!”  – Tyson Daniels, Polymer Contours, Inc.

“Be prepared to work really hard, long evenings, long hours, long nights. Become a master at whatever you are doing. You will never be able to get other people to appreciate what you are doing unless you can do it and do it well. And do your homework so you are well versed on what you are about to embark on.” – Andrew Schevets, Amorphic Tech Ltd.

Did you receive any advice early on that impacted your decision to pursue your own business?

“I was advised to just do what I love and go with it. Before I started my business I was doing this almost as a hobby… helping leaders and giving them ideas and offering them support. And it didn’t dawn on me to pursue this as a business until a friend suggested it. So that was the biggest piece of advice that someone could have given me.” – Victoria Cooper, The Consulting Firm LLC

What makes the entrepreneurship journey so rewarding?

“I get to be agile and adjust to my client’s needs, and also to my own interests. When a client comes to me with a particular problem to solve, I can get really creative about not only how technically to solve the problem, but how we can set up the business relationship to get their needs addressed.” – Matthew Sommerfield, MTS Design + Manufacture

“What makes this most rewarding is when I hear from people and they tell me how much they like the wine, that they are drinking the wine for special occasions with their family and friends.” – Kevin Danna, Binah Winery

How have you overcome struggles?

“I have a strong network of peers, mentors, and people in other industries, people that I am able to talk to and get guidance and reassurance. And honestly, just remembering that when you are in business, every day is awesome and terrifying at the same time, and that switches every 5-10 minutes!” – Evan Johnson, Stay Calm Industries