What is the Difference Between an Inventor and an Entrepreneur – Which One Are You?

If you are considering beginning some startup, you might be wondering what category you fall into – entrepreneur or investor. If you ask what is the difference between an inventor and an entrepreneur – don’t worry. You are not alone. Many people get these two things confused. Learn more about the significant difference between an entrepreneur and an inventor and see which category you fall into.

Inventors Create Products

It might sound a little obvious, but if you are an investor, you create things. Usually, their primary focus is creating new things. They get ideas for products, services, or processes that can solve a real-world problem. The invention could also just change the way we do things. This could be anything from serious to fun.

Inventor vs Entrepreneur
Inventor vs Entrepreneur

Here are a couple of examples of notable inventions just from 1971 to 1991

  • 1971: email
  • 1972: hand-held scientific calculator
  • 1973: the CAT scan machine
  • 1974: Rubik’s cube
  • 1975: mood rings, Pez candy, Magic 8 balls
  • 1976: inkjet printer
  • 1977: artificial heart, personal stereo, the neutron bomb, MRI machine
  • 1978: Lego people, Reeses pieces
  • 1979: the Walkman
  • 1980: Post It Notes
  • 1981: MTV
  • 1982: CD Player
  • 1983: Camcorder, NES
  • 1984: DNA fingerprinting, Apple Macintosh computer
  • 1985: Microsoft windows
  • 1986: Nicotine Patch
  • 1987: a disposable camera, Prozac
  • 1988: Laser eye surgery
  • 1989: Nintendo Gameboy
  • 1990: Kid Cuisine, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo
  • 1991: The world wide web

As you can see, not everything on the above list is serious. There are also food items and fun things like the Rubik’s cube or the CD Player. Regardless of what was invented, someone had to come up with the idea and see it through completion.

Some of these items most people still use every day, such as email and the internet. Some things are still used sparingly, but they have been built upon with new technology.

For instance, Nintendo’s most current gaming system is the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch is a system that brings together console play (like the original NES) and hand-held play (like the original Gameboy).

The list illustrates how some inventions last for a really long time and others are simply built upon. Still, the initial idea is vital to the new versions of that idea.

Inventions can be anything. It could be a scientific process, a service that has never been offered in a specific way before, a new type of food, a game, or a toy. The list is endless.

So how does an inventor invent something? Usually, there is a whole process involved. In many cases, they start with a problem they want to solve and brainstorm possibilities. Then, if they come up with something that they think will solve that problem, they create a proof of concept.

A proof of concept is evidence in some form that comes from a series of experiments. This evidence demonstrates that something (business proposal, product, service, a design) is feasible and does whatever the inventor sets out to do.

For instance, when the Gameboy was created, they may have been trying to make a similar but different gaming experience as the NES. This would provide another stream of revenue for the company while at the same time allowing their customers to be entertained wherever they were.

Read: How do angel investors get paid back?

Characteristics of an Inventor

Difference Between an Inventor and an Entrepreneur
Difference Between an Inventor and an Entrepreneur

To be a successful investor, you must have many different characteristics. Here are 9 traits that most people, even those who only dabble with inventions, have.

  • Passion – Inventors are passionate about their projects. They get really involved in each product where they put all their energy on focus on one thing.
  • Optimism – They are very optimistic. A pessimistic person would have a difficult time in the invention field as you need to believe that you can solve a problem no one else can. Or you think you can create a product or service that provides value to people’s lives.
  • Patience – People who invent things have a lot of patience. Most inventions do not happen overnight. In fact, some creations take years to come up with the core idea and experiment until the product does exactly what you set out to do. Patience is a requirement.
  • Persistence – They must be persistent. On each project or invention they work on, they will have to spend a lot of time and energy. Most people who invent things rarely succeed. They have many projects that just never work out. Nevertheless, persistence is key. They can not walk away every time they get frustrated.
  • Self-Motivated – Inventors are driven and self-reliant. They do not need outside forces motivating them to work, brainstorm or just do one more experiment. Instead, they have the internal motivation to create and solve problems.
  • Inquisitive – Inventors are usually curious, and this starts at a young age. They want to know everything about everything. They may have taken things apart as a child to see how they worked.
  • Independent – An inventor needs to be independent and be okay working independently. They will be alone in their labs or in their head for hours at a time. They need to be able to work independently and not miss others around them.
  • Creative – Creativity is the key. They need to think outside the box and look at a situation like no one else has before.
  • Able to Tolerate Failure – Finally, they need to be able to deal with failure. Although some inventors have given the world great things, they all failed the majority of the time. Inventors need to be able to deal with failure and still push on through their various projects.

Entrepreneurs Create Companies

An entrepreneur is someone who creates a business. This business could be based on one product on many.

Typically an entrepreneur is offering a service or selling a product. Some services include freelance writing, editing, plumbing, yard work, builders, designers, or providing live music. A product could be wedding dresses, perfume, lumber, home goods, electronics, or selling homemade candles.

They could offer many products or services or just one. Regardless, their job is not just creating the product or service, often times they do not even do that.

Instead, they build a business that includes selling this product or service to customers or clients and participating in other marketing, advertising, customer service, bookkeeping, and labor.

Read: How to get funding for startup without giving up equity

Notable Entrepreneurs of our Time

Here is a list of 15 entrepreneurs – most of the names you will recognize, but the ones you do not, you will know their products and companies.

So let’s take a look at people who started out with an idea and turned it into a worldwide product or service, as well as becoming more financially stable than most people’s wildest dreams.

  • Jeff Bezos – Bezos is one of the biggest success stories of our time. Although the original idea of a giant bookstore was great, the way he has expanded the Amazon empire over the years is impressive. Are there still items you can not get from Amazon?
  • Sara Blakely – You may not know the name, but she created Spanx. Spanx revolutionized how women dress and feel about the clothes they are wearing.
  • Mark Burnett – Burnett is a creator and producer. He has brought some of the largest reality television shows in history to the networks. These shows include Survivor, The Voice, The Apprentice, and Shark Tank. He has not only created binge-worthy television, but he shaped how a generation looked at the world through the introduction of reality TV.
  • Brian Chesky – Chesky is a co-founder of AIRBNB. This startup grew to crazy proportions – even if you would not use AIRBNB, you are still familiar with it.
  • Bill Gates – Gates co-founded Microsoft. He is one of the wealthiest people in the world, and his company has been around for almost 50 years at this point.
  • Steve Jobs – Jobs co-founded Apple. One of the most impressive things about Jobs is how Apple was one of the most innovative companies, and then they failed to keep up. It looked as though Apple would disappear forever. Then he not only helped save the company and products like the Ipad, iPhone, and Itunes. He helped change how the world looks at technology.
  • Travis Kalanick – He co-founded Uber, a company that changed how the world traveled and set up transportation from one place to another.
  • Elon Musk – Must is co-founder of Tesla and founder of SpaceX. He is one of the richest men globally. He is not afraid to use his money to be innovative, like exploring space so future generations can take exotic vacations or colonate other planets.
  • Satoshi Nakamoto – He is the creator of Bitcoin. I say he, but no one really knows much about the bitcoin creator, but bitcoin is a commodity that seems to here to stay.
  • Larry Page – Page is a co-founder of Google. Google has its hands in everything. Most people use at least one of Google services every day.
  • Martha Stewart – Stewart is the founder of Martha Steward Living Omnimedia. She is an early example of branding yourself as a business. Love her or hate her; everyone knows who Martha is.
  • Peter Thiel – He is a co-founder of PayPal and founder of Palantir. Palantir is a firm he founded in 2004 specializing in big-data analysis. He contracts exclusively with the United States Government.
  • Oprah Winfrey – Founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah is another entrepreneur that needs no introduction; Oprah is a brand that everyone is familiar with.
  • Mark Zuckerberg – He is probably one of the most successful and wealthy Harvard dropouts ever. He left school to work on Facebook, which is still used by millions of people today.
  • Shawn Carter – you may know him better as Jay Z. He founded Roc-A-Fella Records. He did not release his first record until the age of 26, which is late for an aspiring rapper. So, to get an audience for his music, he founded his own record label.

As you can see, the entrepreneurs are all in different fields. Some of them created services, and some made products. Some of them actually invented a service or product. Still, after the initial invention, their focus changed to the business side of things.

Read: What Are the Benefits and Risks of Social Entrepreneurship?

Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

what is the difference between an inventor and an entrepreneur
what is the difference between an inventor and an entrepreneur

To be successful as an entrepreneur, you will need to have many different traits. Here are 9 characteristics that most successful entrepreneurs have.

  • Self-Motivation – If you are planning to run a business, you need to be self-motivated. You are the boss, and you will be making all the decisions. Therefore, it is up to you to ensure your company maintains your vision and heads in the right direction.
  • Networking – Entrepreneurs need to know how to network. You will need to make contacts with customers, investors, other businesses, and members of the media for promotional purposes.
  • RiskTaker – Entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature. Leaving a steady job and starting a business is a risk.
  • Flexibility – When you are running a business, you can not be rigid. You need to be open to new things and ready to change and adapt.
  • Passionate – Entrepreneurs are passionate. They started a business because they believe in the product or industry and think they have something beneficial to add. They are passionate about their business and what they are doing.
  • Creative – They are also creative. They look at things differently. This is why they opened a business. They think they have something special to add, whether it is expertise or a new way of looking at things.
  • Future-Oriented – Running a business is about today, but it also about the future. Entrepreneurs need to keep in mind where they want their business to be in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and more. They also need to understand how to reach these goals and work towards these goals daily.
  • Resourceful – When you are running a business, unexpected things happen. Good entrepreneurs are visionary. They will find a way to address all the problems that arise.
  • Decisive – Finally, a successful entrepreneur will need to be decisive. You are in charge, making all the decisions, big or small, will be up to you.

Can You be Both an Inventor and an Entrepreneur?

It is possible to be both an inventor and an entrepreneur, but it is rare. The majority of the people who invent a product or service and then run the business are not creating new things. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an inventor, this typically takes all your time and energy. It is not likely that you will do both for an extended period.

Innovation – where Entrepreneurs and Inventors Meet

One of the things that both entrepreneurs and inventors have in common is that there are innovators.

An innovator is a person who creates new products, methods or comes up with new ideas. Someone who spends their time inventing new things and ways to do something is all about innovation.

Entrepreneurs are innovative in the products they sell, the ways services are offered, or their methods while running their business.

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Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the question what is the difference between an inventor and an entrepreneur, and you understand which one of these categories you fit into.