A businessperson is someone who owns or works for a company. Often the term is applied to those in higher levels of responsibility, such as managers or executives. Businesspeople can be men or women, and are found in a variety of industries and pursuits.
One common term for a businessperson is a white collar worker. This means that his or her job does not involve manual labor, such as construction, agricultural work, or other physical tasks. A white collar job usually involves working in an office, where tasks typically require mental, rather than physical, performance. This is not necessarily a reflection of comparative intelligence between white collar and blue collar workers, but simply a distinction in the tasks of the job.
The type of company that a businessperson may work at can vary widely. Some are involved in the production or sales of goods and services. Others may be involved in the financial sector, such as investment bankers or day traders. Businesspeople may work for non-profit organizations such as grant foundations, educational groups, or various charities. Government employees are not usually considered businesspeople, even though their work may have significant connections to business and the economy.
A businessperson may or may not have formal education. While many have specialized degrees in a particular field, others come up through the ranks of the business world by apprenticeships, simple intelligence, or even inheritance. There is no one way to become a businessperson; university education, professional contacts, entrepreneurial instincts, and family connections may all provide roads into the business world.
Historically, businesspeople have been associated with the upper and middle classes of society. Nobles and merchants frequently conducted most of the buying, selling, and investing of past years, since they had primary access to liquid funds. Artisans, farmers, and industrial workers, on the other hand, had little opportunity for savings and tended to operate through barter systems and trades, or use earnings solely for necessities, rather than have the luxury to amass and expend wealth.
Business is not always associated with extreme amounts of wealth or prestige, however, and becoming a businessperson does not always guarantee a path to riches and success. A single person sitting at a computer in pajamas selling artistic greeting cards through an Internet website is as much of a businessperson as a Wall Street banker in an expensive suit. Moreover, the greeting card salesperson could enjoy considerable financial success based on a small, personal business model, where the investment banker's career and securities can be far more subject to the whim of the market and investments. Indeed, the presence of market-expanding tools such as the Internet has expanded the scope of the business world considerably, allowing more people than ever before to try their hands at entrepreneurial endeavors.