Many government applications that ask you to define your employment, give you the option to select "0wn-account worker" or in some other instances the option of "self-employed". For statistical purposes, these exist to distinguish somebody from the typical business employee. These individuals are then put under the umbrella group of the "entrepreneur" and further distinctions are limited to academic researcher papers. But this should not be the case.
What does it mean to have an "entrepreneurial spirit"? First of all, let's recall some of the definitions that have tried to capture what entrepreneurship is and what it means to be an "entrepreneur": my favourite one is Victor Kiam's.
Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacles and opportunity, and are able to turn both to their advantage.
Schumpeter explains that it is rare for someone to always be an entrepreneur, saying that
Everyone is an entrepreneur only when he actually 'carries out new combinations', and loses that character as soon as he builds his business, when he settles down to running it as other people run their businesses.
Joseph Alois Schumpeter
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) defines it as
Entrepreneurs are people who are entrepreneurially active as adults in the process of setting up a business they will (partly) own and or currently owning and managing an operating young business.
Paul Reynolds, the creator of GEM admits that
Although there seems to be no generally accepted definition of entrepreneurship, many assessments are unified by the notion that entrepreneurship is about creating something new.
So, summing it up we can accept that an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to risk his time, money and effort to start up an innovative business, or who is operating a new business, and he or she are entrepreneurs for as long as they actively keep repeating this process. Hence, we should distinguish the entrepreneur from the businessman.
First of all, is the distinction between the self-employed and the employee. But being self-employed does not make someone automatically an entrepreneur in the sense of creating new businesses that generate both innovation and wealth. The self-employed who are entrepreneurial are those who enter self-employment to capture a new profit opportunity. This is the true nature of entrepreneurship, which GEM refers to as opportunity entrepreneurial activity (OEA). Then there are those entering self-employment s a last resort of employment due to a lack of paid-job alternatives. These are the kind of entrepreneurship that GEM refers to as necessity entrepreneurial activity (NEA). Finally, there are those self-employed, who do receive a paid-employment offer, but are "conditioned" to become own-account workers. This is a relatively recent phenomenon of our modern times that its motives are to be found in the employment legislation and the tax laws. Your typical "freelancer" probably falls under this specific group of self-employed.
This latter type constitutes so-called dependent self-employment because their self-employment status is little more than a device to evade the most onerous elements of employment protection legislation.
José María Millán, Concepción Román, Emilio Congregado
When seen under this light, it is hard to argue that some self-employed are somewhat less "entrepreneurial" than others. Furthermore, this distinction separates the self-employed into those entrepreneurs who create new businesses that hire external labour, thus contributing to the job-creation process, and those own-account workers, who simply work on their own.
The true entrepreneur is characterised by a restless spirit that continuously seeks business opportunities and shortly after establishes one firm, moves on to start-up another. It is an individual who freely chooses an independent profession that enables him or her to materialise his or hers visions and aspirations.