Several of my friends and family are people who have started and grown their own business – a.k.a. entrepreneurs. One of the questions I ask them is “Do you love being an entrepreneur?”

Every single one of them answered that question with a convincing “Yes”, however the reasons why they love what they do surprised me a bit.

Entrepreneurialism certainly has an aura about it. It’s also seen by many as a risky way to make a living. What I learned from entrepreneurs on this topic is that risk is undoubtedly prevalent with being a founder of companies, but when you think about it there’s risk associated with everything in life (including working for someone else) – the only gambling taking place with entrepreneurs is the betting on themselves to succeed.

Most people also think of entrepreneurs as fearless young people. What I learned is a lot of my friends who are entrepreneurs didn’t start their company until they were well into their 30s. It turns out the average age of business founders is 40 years old according to stats published by Dharmesh Shah. Being “young” doesn’t appear to have much to do with it.

So what is entrepreneurialism really? Based on what I’ve learned from others I know, being an entrepreneur is about three common themes:

  1. Pursuit of Improvement – there’s the belief that things can and should be better. It seems this is also the case for a large population of Americans too because the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that small businesses were credited with over 67% of the new jobs in the United States from 2009 – 2011. Innovation. Making a difference.
  2. Inevitable Direction – the realization that eventually the road leads to this. It was only a matter of time. One of my friends told me he was “born to start companies.” Experience is important (over 75% of all entrepreneurs had more than 6 years of industry experience before launching their company) which leads to opportunity. Opportunity leads to growth and hiring talent. Repeat.
  3. Passion to Help – empowering people and giving back. This particular theme among my entrepreneur friends was particularly interesting to discover. They find reward in helping others. Great news because without people, countries and businesses could not exist.

Being an entrepreneur is about so much more than being your own boss, and that is inspiring. It’s easy to see why entrepreneurs enjoy being entrepreneurs.