Three Types of Business Owners (according to Jocelyn and Brian)

In the decades that we’ve been working with clients, we’ve noticed that there are a few terms that get used interchangeably to describe the types of businesses.

We wanted to create our own categories–mainly so we’d have one that felt like it described us!

Our 3 categories business of owners are:

1. Small Business Owner (“SBO”)

Small Businesses make up 80% of all businesses in the United States. This figure is similar in most other countries.

A small business owner focuses on steady growth and utilizes the business to provide income and stability. Most small business owners view outlays of cash as expenses and will try to minimize these.

The small business owner works to live vs. the live to work attitude. The business is not critical to the SBO’s identity as it can be for entrepreneurs.

When SBO’s come to fork in the road, they will most often choose the path that leads to steady state and spending what’s necessary on the business.

2. Entrepreneur

If you leave a corporate role or decide to strike out on your own, people might label you an entrepreneur.

This might be a misnomer.

Entrepreneurs make up about 5% of the businesses in the U.S., this figure is similar in other countries, as well.

Entrepreneurs are focused on growth, growth, GROWTH. Much of the revenue generated by the business will get reinvested. Most entrepreneurs will take on outside investors and focus on scaling and multiples of growth. At the beginning of their venture, they have an exit strategy in mind.

Entrepreneurs live to work. The label and lifestyle of the entrepreneur are a big part of their identities.

When an entrepreneur reaches a fork in the road, they will most likely choose the option that leads to scaling and growth.

If there are circumstances that prevent them from choosing growth at that juncture (cash flow, economic or market environment, not enough employees) they will map out the timing of favorable conditions and revisit that growth strategy.

While the small business owner and the entrepreneur are at opposite ends of the spectrum, we encountered business owners who identified with characteristics of each, but still didn’t feel like they fit in either bucket.

This is how option number three came to be.

It’s the “Goldilocks” descriptor for a business owner.

3. The Passionate Business Owner (“PBO”)

Passionate Business Owner is a term we coined a term that bridges the two categories. 

Small Business felt “too small.” Entrepreneur felt “too big” and “Number Three “PBO” is just right…

Passionate Business Owners share the Entrepreneur’s drive for improvement and growth but combine it with the Small Business Owner’s commitment to personal values and lifestyle balance. 

They are deeply invested in their business, actively involved in day-to-day operations, and eager to grow, but not at the expense of their personal life or core values. 

This approach means that their business expands steadily but remains sustainable and aligned with their long-term life goals.

A Passionate Business Owner is an expert at their craft and had a desire to start their own business, create a business that works with their holistic work/life vision, or they may have stumbled in running their own business.

While they might not have all the business skills, their innate desire to get really good at something, fuels their desire to learn how to “get good” at the business stuff. They will invest in learning & coaching, and/or hire people to help with the things they’re not skilled at.

They enjoy finding communities and networks of like-minded business owners that can support them and challenge them to grow.

These are the business owners that tend to self-identify as “entrepreneurs,” but don’t fit the growth at all costs mold. They also may want to pursue growth at some point and they invest in themselves and their business, so small business owner doesn’t fit, either.

A Passionate Business Owner knows how to choose their own goals for what is a sustainable and manageable size for their business.

They’re often thrilled to have a third option to describe their type of business.

Most people in our audience will probably fit into this category.