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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A business person (business man, business woman) is a person involved in the business sector – in particular someone undertaking activities (commercial or industrial) for the purpose of generating cash flow, sales, and revenue by utilizing a combination of human, financial, intellectual and physical capital with a view to fueling economic development and growth.[1]

The term "businessperson" may refer to a founder, owner, or majority shareholder of a commercial enterprise; or it can characterize a high-level executive who does the everyday running and management of a company even if that executive is not the owner.[2] The term may sometimes refer to someone who is involved in an upper-level management role in a corporation, company, enterprise, firm, organization, or agency.[citation needed]

An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business or businesses.


Mauricio Macri Argentinian businessman and politician
Mauricio Macri Argentinian businessman and politician

Prehistoric period: Traders

Since a "businessman" can mean anyone in industry or commerce,[3] 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 in human history were  traders or merchants.

Medieval period: Rise of the merchant class

Merchants emerged as a "class" in medieval Italy (compare, for example, the traditional merchant caste (Vaishya) in Indian society). Between 1300 and 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.[4][need quotation to verify]

Around the same time, Europe saw the "emergence of rich merchants."[5] 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.[6]

Renaissance to Enlightenment: Rise of the capitalist

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, cheques, and joint-stock companies (and their shares of stock).[7] Developments in actuarial science led to insurance.[8] Together, these new tools were used by a new kind of businessperson, 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.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes the earliest known use of the word "business-men" in 1798, and of "business-man" in 1803. By 1860 the spelling "businessmen" had emerged.[9]

Modern period: Rise of the manager

The newest kind of businessperson is the manager. One of the first true managers was Robert Owen (1771–1858), an industrialist in Scotland.[10] He studied the "problems of productivity and motivation", and was followed by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), who was the first person who studied work.[11] 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).[12]


Salaries for businesspeople vary.[13][14] The salaries of the top chief executive officers can be millions of dollars per year. For example, the head of Discovery Inc., David M. Zaslav, made $156 million in 2014.[15] The high salaries which executives earn have often been a source of criticism from many who believe they are paid excessively.[16]

Business guru

Some leading business theorists look to leaders in academic research on business or to successful business leaders for guidance. Collectively, these people are called "business gurus."

See also


  1. ^ Compare: "businessman". WebFinance Inc. 2018. Archived from the original on 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2018-07-06. businessman[:] A person who is employed by an organization or company. Businessmen are often associated with white collar jobs. In order to avoid sexism or the perpetuation of stereotypes, the term is often replaced with "businessperson". The term "businesswoman" is less commonly used.
  2. ^ Compare: "BUSINESSMAN". Audioenglish. Retrieved 2016-08-27. The noun BUSINESSMAN has 1 sense: 1. a person engaged in commercial or industrial business (especially an owner or executive)
  3. ^ "BUSINESSMAN". Audioenglish. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  4. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 506. ISBN 9780141968728.
  5. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 509.
  6. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 510.
  7. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 558.
  8. ^ Roberts, J.M. (2013). The Penguin History of the World, Sixth Edition. New York: Penguin. p. 559.
  9. ^ "businessman". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  10. ^ Drucker, Peter (2008). Management, Revised Edition. New York: Collins Business. pp. 13.
  11. ^ Drucker, Peter (2008). Management, Revised Edition. New York: Collins Business. pp. 14.
  12. ^ Drucker, Peter (2008). Management, Revised Edition. New York: Collins Business. pp. 15–16.
  13. ^ "Business and Financial Occupations". Bureau of Labor and Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  14. ^ "Management Occupations". Bureau of Labor and Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  15. ^ "100 Highest Paid CEOs". AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  16. ^ Gretchen Gavett. "CEOs Get Paid Too Much". Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
This page was last edited on 21 April 2021, at 18:59
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