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'Entrepreneur?' Ha!

(3 minute read.)

'It ain't me, babe.'

I prefer not to use the word 'entrepreneur'…

Dictionaries are very clear and simple in their explanation of it: 'Someone who starts their own business.'

So what's my gripe?

To me, it initially conjured connotations of Branson, Murdoch, and suchlike - tycoon/magnate types. That ain't me, and they're people with whom I could never identify nor aspire to be.

You enjoy business? Deals, etcetera?

I don't.

Years later my discomfort also includes how the word has become a 'cool trend', overused and devalued (also, conversely, aspirationally over-valued); seems almost everyone and their pet dog is an entrepreneur these days, and many want to start their own business just so's they can call themselves 'entrepreneur'.

So it's not so much the word, but many of the people who consider themselves such; whether the tycoon-types, others imbued with alpha-male-machismo, or pretentious wannabes.

Either way, there's too great an element of 'money-and-glory oriented'. Definitely not people for me.

While I'd of course prefer to be well-off than poor, personal financial enrichment has never been my key motivation. And I've certainly never wanted fame and glory.

Back in the 70s I initially started my own business because I didn't enjoy working for others, then continued because it was a way to enable me to spend a decent amount of time with my wife and young kids.

Subsequently it became because I had an idea for something I liked and which was socially and financially worthwhile - and so starting and building a business to enable it to be done was logical and satisfying.

I've tried (and continue to try) to become more comfortable with 'entrepreneur' to describe what I do. Because 'an entrepreneur is simply someone who starts a business' is fine - clear and unambiguous and with no negative connotation. There's nothing wrong with it.

But I do wish there were an alternative with which I'm more comfortable. For me, ‘business person’ or ‘company director’ certainly don’t cut it.

So, when asked 'what do you do?' I just reply with 'I do business stuff - marketing, etcetera.'

And, if I wanted to push my point, I'd likely say something about how 'entrepreneur' has become in some way romanticised; hijacked by those who don't have the ideas, courage, or perseverance to do it. It involves risk.

Freelancer, consultant or somebody with a side hustle is not necessarily 'entrepreneur' - it's a mindset not for the faint-hearted, and few are really cut out for the responsibility and insecurity. The chance of failure.

Shaping and growing something from vision to fruition, then long-term viability, requires fortitude, discipline and skill. Lots of. And luck, too.

Contrary to what's often said, not anyone can do it.

And 'entrepreneur' is a work in process: a journey, not an endpoint.

Back to the use of the word… I can't remember ever meeting anyone who introduced themselves with 'Hi, I’m an entrepreneur.' I hope I never will. (There's so many better ways to sound human and credible.)

I only use it in that 'troubleshooter/entr*pr*n**r' written line - and always with the asterisks self-deprecatingly present and linking to this note.

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