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A businessperson (plural businesspeople, much more commonly referred to as businessmen) is someone involved in business, where in particular undertaking of activities, commercial or industrial, for the purpose of generating cash flow, sales, and revenue utilizing a combination of human, financial, intellectual and physical capital that further fuels economic development and growth. An entrepreneur is an example of a businessperson. Though the term usually refers to founder, owner, or majority shareholder of a business, the term is sometimes interchangeably used to describe a high level executive who does the everyday running and management of the business even though the executive is not the owner.[1] The term may sometimes mean someone who is involved in the upper-level management role of a corporation, company, enterprise, firm, organization, or agency.[2] This can especially apply to the founder, an owner, a manager, an executive, or an administrator in charge of total management of a corporation, company, organization, or agency.[3][4]


Prehistoric Business: Traders[edit]

Since a "businessperson" can mean anyone in industry or commerce,[5] businesspeople have existed as long as industry and commerce have existed. "Commerce" can simply mean "trade," and trade has existed through all of recorded history. The first businesspeople were traders, or merchants.

Medieval Period: Rise of the Merchant Class[edit]

Merchants emerged as a "class" in medieval Italy. Between 1300-1500, modern accounting, the bill of exchange, and limited liability were invented, and thus the world saw "the first true bankers," who are certainly businesspeople.[6]

Around the same time, Europe saw the "emergence of rich merchants."[7] This "rise of the merchant class" came as Europe "needed a middleman" for the first time, and these "burghers" or "bourgeois" were the people who played this role.[8]

Renaissance to Enlightenment: Rise of the Capitalist[edit]

Europe became the dominant global commercial power in the 16th century, and as Europeans developed new tools for business, new types of business people began to use those tools. In this period, Europe developed and used paper money, checks, and joint-stock companies (and their shares of stock).[9] Developments in actuarial science led to insurance.[10] Together, these new tools were used by a new kind of businessman, the capitalist. These people owned or financed businesses as bankers, but they were not merchants of goods. These capitalists were a major force in the Industrial Revolution...

Modern History: Rise of the Manager[edit]

The newest kind of businessperson is the manager. One of the first true managers was Robert Owen (1771-1858), an industrialist in Scotland.[11] He studied the "problems of productivity and motivation," and was followed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who was the first person who studied work.[12] After World War I, management became popular due to the example of Herbert Hoover and the Harvard Business School, which offered degrees in business administration (management).[13]


Qualifications needed to be a businessperson vary by the type of businessperson. Many business occupations in the United States require a bachelor's degree.[14] Even top executive positions do not typically require a master's degree.[15] There are no prescribed educational qualifications, rules or guidelines which one may follow and expect to become a successful businessperson. Much of the business education gained is related to real life experience and on the job learning rather through a textbook or a classroom. A person owning a small gas station in a local market is as much as a businessperson as a person who owns and leads a large Silicon Valley technology giant. There are many paths to becoming a businessperson. Some aspiring businesspeople complete a two-year business diploma in a college, a four-year Bachelor of Commerce degree, a two-year Master of Business Administration degree or a degree in a specialized area related to their business (e.g., a mining business executive might complete a Bachelor of Engineering or a chemical company CEO might complete a Bachelor of Science degree). On the other hand, since much of business skills is related to real life experience, there have been heads of major companies who lack formal education that were college drop-outs or who have never attended college. Hence, no rigid formal educational qualification requirements can be stated for becoming a businessperson. However, there are certain attributes that successful businesspersons must possess, such as:

  • The businessperson should have tact, financial and business savvy, courage, vision, imagination, and organizing ability.
  • They should be a person of attention, time sense, and punctuality because these are essential for successful business.
  • They should be well-balanced and should apply consistency in their approach.
  • They should be friendly towards the employees and the customers.
  • They should be imbued with social interest.[16]

Besides this, there are also certain traits or characteristics that most businesspersons possess:

Initiative and capacity to take prompt decision: The business world is highly volatile and changes are taking place at a rapid pace. Hence, a businessperson should have the ability to take prompt decisions.

Determination, courage and perseverance: They must have strong will power and determination and must have the courage to protect the business of the company under unforeseen circumstances.

Intelligence and alertness: The businessperson should be alert and aware of the possible changes taking place in the external environment otherwise they will fail in the business. They should be intelligent enough to utilize available business opportunities and use them to the advantage of the business.

Quality of leadership: They should be an ideal leader and should be a role model to others because today's business requires loyalty and co-operation by all employees.

Morality and integrity: The businessperson should be honest, straightforward, fair in dealings, dependability, and of a moral character to ensure long-term survival of the business.

Training and education: The businessperson should learn the intricacies of modern business through training and education and should pass this onto their subordinates.[17]


Salaries for businesspeople vary.[18][19] The salaries of the top CEOs can be millions of dollars per year. For example, Discovery Communications' head, David M. Zaslav, made $156 million in 2014.[20] The high salary which executives earn has often been a source of criticism with many believing that they are paid excessively.[21]

Business guru[edit]

Some leading business theorists believe that managing a business is like a science. These people look to leaders in academic research on business or to successful business leaders for guidance. Collectively, these people are called "business gurus."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BUSINESSMAN". Audioenglish. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Sam Ashe-Edmunds,. "Entrepreneur Vs. Executive". Globalpost. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Difference Between CEO and Owner". Differencebetween. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Entrepreneur vs. CEO: Understanding the Difference Can Save Your Business". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "BUSINESSMAN". Audioenglish. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 506. 
  7. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 509. 
  8. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 510. 
  9. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 558. 
  10. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 559. 
  11. ^ Drucker, Peter (2008). Management, Revised Edition. New York: Collins Business. p. 13. 
  12. ^ Drucker, Peter (2008). Management, Revised Edition. New York: Collins Business. p. 14. 
  13. ^ Drucker, Peter (2008). Management, Revised Edition. New York: Collins Business. pp. 15–16. 
  14. ^ "Business and Financial Occupations". Department of Labor. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  15. ^ "Management Occupations". Bureau of Labor and Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  16. ^ Sharma, Girish. "What are the qualifications for a successful businessman?". Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Swain, Radhakanta. "What are the qualities that make a man to a good businessman?". publishyoursrticles. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Business and Financial Occupations". Bureau of Labor and Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  19. ^ "Management Occupations". Bureau of Labor and Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  20. ^ "100 Highest Paid CEOs". AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  21. ^ Gretchen Gavett. "CEOs Get Paid Too Much". Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 

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