There is a misconception that all entrepreneurs are innovators and vice versa. There certainly can be an overlap but many innovators cannot implement their innovation. For every significant innovation there are thousands of entrepreneurs finding applications. The innovator has the idea. The entrepreneur puts it to work. It is the difference between development and application. A recent example is the iPhone/iPad- great innovations with thousands of applications being developed by independents. When the transistor was invented the innovators were solving a particular problem but overall they had no idea what would evolve from their innovation. The overall result was the tech revolution still going on.
A fundamental difference is the focus- is it the project or the process? The innovator is immersed in the project-often finding a new approach to solve a specific problem. The entrepreneur thrives on the process of making things happen. Innovation takes entrepreneurs in many directions. This is why tech is so critical to entrepreneurs and why the rewards for tech innovation are dramatic. Tech innovators who graduate to entrepreneurship are superstars. They are the high profile face which the public identifies as an entrepreneur. Steve Jobs was not a techy- he was a visionary who led his company to make things happen. He drove his tech support to produce the innovation that fulfilled his vision. In that sense he represents the ultimate entrepreneur. He identified the opportunity and knew enough to direct the development team into the innovation. He wasn’t satisfied until his vision did happen.
There are many different levels of entrepreneurship, more than ever in this age of mompreneurs and structural unemployment. The common bond is the ability to make things happen-the determination to do it yourself. As the 21st century evolves tech innovation will remain at the epicentre but the ability to create your own job at any level will be the most important skill for the individual.