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Definition of entrepreneurs

Definition of entrepreneurs

There are many definitions of entrepreneur. They can range from the most humble 'survival' entrepreneurs who struggle for every next customer or contract, to the highly successful. A tiny minority are the 'innovators' who succeed in implementing new business strategies and may join the super-rich. The definition adopted for the BBCE is the most inclusive – all possible individuals who ran businesses that are identifiable in the censuses. They range from survival entrepreneurs and those who ran enterprises from necessity, to those with many thousands of employees. With this starting point other users can identify targets from the BBCE data using specific definitions to suit their own research questions. The BBCE definition aligns with the modern censuses and the UK Labour Force Survey, which is fundamental to tracking over time: see of The Age of Entrepreneurship (Chapter 2).

The BBCE definition is essentially all the self-employed for whom this was their main occupation. In modern terms this is full-time over 30 hours per week, though this was not so specifically defined in the past. The BBCE definitions are disaggregated into three main types of self-employed:

  • Employers (those who employed others)
  • Own account self-employed (sole proprietors who employed no-one else)
  • Directors of corporations (of Limited Companies)

There is additional BBCE identification of:

  • Portfolio entrepreneurs (with multiple business activities)
  • Partners (those with formal or informal co-entrepreneurs)

Portfolios are quite well identified in the censuses, but partnership information is more limited.

BBCE also identifies the rest of the economically active so that entrepreneurs can be compared with workers. Workers are not contained in BBCE but are available as downloads by RecID: for methodology see England & Wales and Scotland.

All categories in BBCE and downloads (including identifying workers) are re-coded to their economic occupations, whereas I-CeM codes to what census clerks are believed to have done for census publications (which gave farming priority over an individual's other activity, and used social rank and other non-economic categories) (see BBCE User Guide pp 5-6; I-CeM Guide).