It’s official: I hate the term entrepreneur.
A few week ago I happened upon a LinkedIn user whose title was “Visionary Entrepreneur,” which I found to be quite ambitious. With such a statement, I decided it best to have a look at her profile. According to the resume, this person hadn’t had a job (let alone run a business) in the past four years.
To post in a public sphere such a bold assertion – with no perceivable substantiation, mind you – rendered me malmost speechless. It’s like the weird guy in your office who gives himself a nickname. Certain things just shouldn’t be done.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered this. In fact, I recently made a LinkedIn post saying something along the lines of “If you have ‘Visionary Entrepreneur’ as your title, I would expect you being able to back up that claim.”
One of the responses I received was, “You’re being too hard. Aren’t all entrepreneurs visionary?”
The term entrepreneur has been hyper-romanticized by the media – the depictions of which often feature and praise those supremely rare mega-successful tech ventures that land the 20-something founder on the cover of Inc magazine.
The term entrepreneur is now used by anybody who feels like they have an idea for an app. They’re probably named Brock or Chad or Brytney.
The term entrepreneur had been adulterated and deflated in modern parlance – the lazy, trend-oriented substitution for something that is often disguised as something progressive. I used to fear strangers who asked me, “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”
I now fear strangers in skinny jeans telling me “I have this great idea for an app.”
Don’t get me wrong – I in no way hate those who pursue their passions and skill sets to make a better life for themselves, for those who work unimaginably hard and unimaginably long hours to better the lives of those around them. I like to think of myself in that tribe.
But can we please stop using the word so much? I bet if you ask 100 people on the street what an entrepreneur is, you’ll be hard-pressed to have a concrete, or at least marginally direct description. Maybe I’m an asshole. That’s fine. But in my experience, a great many of those who call themselves entrepreneurs are simply people with ideas.
SPOILER ALERT: Ideas are easy. Everybody has them. You don’t get a special title just for having one.
Entrepreneurs are the few and the proud – those who defy judgment and recommendations of others in order to pursue an opportunity to capitalize on their skill sets and make others’ lives better. They are the ones with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. They see an opportunity and they figure out how to make it happen.
No matter the time commitment.
No matter the physical and mental toll.
No matter the sleepless nights and prolific lack of a social life.
Maybe it’s just me (probably). Maybe I’m jaded (definitely). Maybe I’m right (?).
It’s time to stop celebrating a term that we feel brings us closer to the person we wish we were, and start taking those scary steps into the muddy swamps and dark alleys of the unknown. It’s time to start calling yourself an entrepreneur, and start acting like one.