A businessman or businesswoman 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. An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business or businesses. He or she is also referred to as a promoter in the entertainment industry.
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. 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.
Prehistoric period: Traders
Medieval period: Rise of the merchant class
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). Developments in actuarial science led to insurance. 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 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. He studied the "problems of productivity and motivation", and was followed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who was the first person who studied work. 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).
Salaries for businesspeople vary. 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. The high salaries which executives earn have often been a source of criticism from many who believe they are paid excessively.
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."