A businessperson (also 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 utilizing a combination of human, financial, intellectual and physical capital with a view to fuelling 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.
Since a "businessman" can mean anyone in industry or commerce, businessmen 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 businessmen in human history were traders or merchants.
Merchants emerged as a "class" in medieval Italy. 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 businessmen.
Around the same time, Europe saw the "emergence of rich merchants." 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.
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."