What is the antonym of an entrepreneur and why does it matter?

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and granted it’s a great time to be one. But what is one? Entrepreneur what? Entrepreneur who? ‘To entrepreneur’. No that doesn’t work. It’s definitely not a verb then.


In the film The Magic of Belle Isle, Morgan Freeman plays the character of a writer who is charged with the duty of mentoring a nine year old girl on the subject of imagination.

In teaching her about how to use it, which she hopes will enable her to write stories, Mr Freeman asks her to look up the road and describe what she can’t see. By thinking of the opposite, or the negative, of what she sees, the little girl is able to dip into her imagination and write her first story.

So when thinking about what an entrepreneur is, it’s important to think what it is not. Or, more extremely, what is its opposite? Its antonym?


When asking my comrades ‘what is the polar opposite of someone who is entrepreneurial?’, the answer was bold and clear. Someone who is safe. Der.

entrepreneur |ˌäntrəprəˈno͝or, -ˈnər|
a person who sees, and seizes, an opportunity others have not, and creates, organises and operates a business often by taking great risks in order to succeed.

antonyms: safe, cautious…unenterprising.

Definition of an entrepreneur


If safety is the opposite of entrepreneurial. Then the ‘safe option’ should not be considered the favourite path so frequently as it is. Because being entrepreneurial is synonymous with being innovative (which figures as the antonym of innovative is also safe, or conservative, traditional). And being entrepreneurial and innovative is the key to survival in business today. Safety so often leads to bankruptcy. Look at HMV.

Innovation + entrepreneurial thinking = success

Safe option + tradition = bankruptcy

Become an entrepreneur


Intrapreneur is similar to entrepreneur (clearly), but whilst entrepreneurs are independently working on their own enterprises, intrapreneurs are employees and innovate their employer’s business from within the organisation.

Intrapreneurs may set up new departments, or products, within existing businesses. Or they may bring a new idea to an existing product or department.

The point is that people in all levels of a business need to be entrepreneurial, so that businesses are constantly innovating.

Businesses, of whatever age, should be definitively entrepreneurial.


Businesses need to have entrepreneurial cultures to thrive in this age. So everyone needs to agree on what it is, and what it is not.

Knowing what it is, and what it is not, will help employers to recruit people who are creative and entrepreneurial thinkers. Which in turn will help them to build an entrepreneurial culture.

Having a knowledge of the antonyms can also help management to ask the right questions. Is this a bit safe? How could we do this differently and better than how we’re currently doing it?

That’s it. Go forth and be entrepreneurial. Not safe. Make money.