At the CFE we often talk about building an entrepreneurial mindset.

The mindset is a set of skills which allow individuals to identify and make the most of opportunities, learn from their failures, and be successful no matter the challenges faced. Research shows that an entrepreneurial mindset is highly sought by future employers, can improve academic results, and is essential for creating new business ideas.

So once you’ve acquired this mindset, which can be learned at U-M through various ENTR courses offered by the CFE, what type of entrepreneurship best suits you?

To answer this, you must first understand the various types available and how they differ from one another.

Most often, the types of entrepreneurship are broken into four categories: 

  • small business 
  • scalable startups 
  • large company or intrapreneurship 
  • social entrepreneurship.

1. Small Business

The Small Business Administration (SBA) says that more than 99% of all U.S. businesses are considered small businesses, and a majority of them are entrepreneurial ventures. These could be anything from a restaurant to a retail store to a service provider that is local. They typically don’t have any intention of becoming a chain or franchise. These are the pizza places, dry cleaners, daycares, and self-employed individuals. Most small business entrepreneurs use their own money to get things started and only make money if they are successful in their venture.

2. Scalable Startups

A scalable startup attempts to grow quickly and become a profitable company. While less common than small businesses, these startups have a tendency to gain a lot of attention when they become successful. They typically start in an attic, a garage, a dorm room, or study room on campus, as an idea that’s being tossed around. These small scale concepts end up gaining investors which allow them to grow and scale up. This is what most folks think of when they hear “startup” or “entrepreneur” and get visions of Silicon Valley tech companies.

3. Intrapreneurship

Think of a company like Alphabet (Google) which owns several other companies, but has also started a few of their own. There are times when entrepreneurs work within a larger company as an employee, but see potential to spin off new products or services that take on a life of their own. These intrapreneurs utilize an entrepreneurial mindset to employ the resources their current employer has available to them. Thinking outside the box, they continue to solve potential problems for current and future customers. This model allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to hit the ground running thanks to support from a larger backer.

4. Social Entrepreneurship

Human created issues sometimes call for innovative community-based solutions. Social entrepreneurs seek to create a positive change with their actions. By launching an initiative or non-profit organization, whose primary purpose is to help people and not make money, these individuals strive to be the change they want to see in the world. Some topics these organizations focus on include racial justice, environmental conservation, or serving underserved communities in one way or another.

So no matter what type of entrepreneurship you feel is right for you, the CFE is here to help. Check out our courses, as well as our experiential learning opportunities. The University of Michigan has a sprawling ecosystem of entrepreneurship available to students, faculty, and staff. Visit to find events, funding, networking, and other entrepreneurial programming. 

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