For some people the word entrepreneur automatically brings to mind Richard Branson and his ilk - those high flyers who set up and run more successful businesses than most of us could manage in several lifetimes. But actually an entrepreneur is anyone who chooses to go it alone and make the most of a business opportunity for themselves, no matter how big or small.
For more and more people this is becoming a legitimate career choice. Gone are the days when you had to have years of business experience under your belt before you might even consider taking the plunge with a start-up of your own: nowadays everybody's doing it. And if you're reading this, you've already taken your first steps to joining them.
Reasons for starting
People choose to become entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons. For some it will be an opportunity to escape their mundane nine-to-five existence and to commit their working lives to something which is a lot closer to their heart. For the 'lifestyle' entrepreneurs the important part of the deal is not how big their business ends up but the effect in has on their lives.
David Creswell, 27, of comics website ComicDomain.co.uk falls into this category: "I don't care if I'm a comic geek, it's my hobby and I've turned that into a small business, I'm proud of the service we provide and our customers are also happy."
For others the motivation for starting up will come from spotting a gap in a market they know well. 'Ski Bums' Tim Slade and Jules Leaver spotted an opportunity for 'been there done that' t-shirts to sell to skiing holiday makers. Their high street chain Fat Face now turns over £25 million.
And for Dee Edwards, 29, the same sort of insight helped her to launch internet company Habbo Ltd. "I really believed internet businesses could be made successful by using technology to run a business effectively and leveraging the different way people were changing their communication," she says.
Whether it be t-shirts or technology, the world is littered with those who've been able to see a business opportunity others simply can't. In fact, a lack of business experience could well give you the kind of perspective that those with a blue-chip CV would struggle to attain. Nowhere is this better illustrated than by Lena Bjorck.
Arriving in the UK from Sweden with no qualifications, she landed a job as a kitchen porter, but quickly realised the country's service industry was just not up to scratch, so without a pound in her pocket, or even the most basic equipment, she quit. She now runs one of the countries most successful catering companies.
What qualities you need
Lena Bjorck's case also highlights the qualities you're going to need if you are going to choose to become an entrepreneur, of which one of the most important is passion. No matter how much potential your business might have for making money, unless you believe in it, how can you expect anyone else to? A bit of self-belief can go a very long way.
Hand-in-hand with passion comes commitment to the cause. From day one you'll need to work incredibly hard, often for-going friends and family to get your venture off the ground. You need to ask yourself whether you're prepared to make that kind of sacrifice and whether you can keep yourself motivated to put in those long, long hours. If you're the sort of person who's new year resolution lasts until January 2, you might want to think again whether you've got what it takes, particularly when things might not be going your way.
And, as you've probably realised, you'll be going through all of this on your own. While escaping the office might seem like paradise now you could soon be longing for a bit of mindless gossip and back-chat. You'll need to dig deep to find the kind of emotional resilience to keep you from losing the plot when there's no-one around to lend a helping hand.
So while you don't need qualifications on paper, not just anyone can become an entrepreneur. But if you think you've got what it takes then it could be one of the best decisions you ever make.