Recently in one of the documents I've come across the abbreviation PE which stands for Private Entrepreneur.

The term sounds like a calque from Russian/Ukrainian.

I've found English equivalent Sole proprietorship, but I'm not sure that does mean the same.

So I'm wondering if anyone from native speakers would ever use Private Entrepreneur or would they understand it if found in an official document.

  • "Entrepreneur" implies some amount of innovation and risk, while "sole proprietor" does not (though of course any business has some risk).
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 8 '16 at 12:03
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    The term Private Entrepreneur is not one I've ever seen on official documents (e.g. tax forms) in the US, though Sole Proprietorship is a standard term here. Jun 8 '16 at 12:03
  • I don't think there's such a thing as a "public, state-funded" entrepreneur, so private isn't needed. But in normal use, a business operating as a [sole] proprietorship is normally something pretty small - the proprietor (and perhaps his wife as "company secretary") may be the only people on the business payroll. But an "entrepreneur" usually means someone who borrows significant amounts of money to start a successful and substantial business, employing many others. Jun 8 '16 at 12:04
  • @FumbleFingers I don't have the same association of an entrepreneur being associated with a larger business. I associate entrepreneur with a risk taker, and sole proprietor just means a business owner who may have a very stable, but small business. They might be entrepreneurs as well, but they could also be someone who inherited the business and haven't taken any risk.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 8 '16 at 12:08
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    Sole Proprietorship is a tax status. These businesses can be stable (e.g. a corner candy store in business for 50 years) or unstable (e.g. a consultant moving from one short-term project to the next). Jun 8 '16 at 13:24

Private Entrepreneur, as you suspect, is the equivalent of a sole trader/proprietor in the UK and US (and over here in Australia).

The term is certainly used in Russia, Ukraine and Finland - there's a good page on the status in Finland here

In answer though to the main part of your question: While those who are more familiar with international business terms would probably have no problem with the term, I think it would be unfamiliar to most native speakers

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