Do you add “entrepreneur” to all your social media profiles? When people ask what you do, do you tell them you are an entrepreneur? Are you really, truly an entrepreneur?
I wasn’t, but I told everyone I was.
I have always wanted my own business. I’ve dabbled over the years and even started a few, but I’ve never stuck with it long enough to be any kind of success.
I did love telling people I had my own business. I loved adding “entrepreneur” to the end of my Facebook profile. I loved posting about how everything I was doing was so important and business-ey.
But should I have even been calling myself an entrepreneur?
This is how Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur:
“One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
It seems simple, right? When you define it like that, there were a few times I could have been an entrepreneur. I’ve created four entities over the years. I organized them, managed them, and assumed all the risks of the businesses.
But is that all an entrepreneur is?
What is an Entrepreneur?
- An entrepreneur is a starter. As the standard definition, this is the part that most people get right. Everyone gets excited about planning and setting up the venture. If this was the only responsibility of an entrepreneur, anyone could be one.
- An entrepreneur is the driver. Who is the one who makes things happen in the organization? Who sits in the driver’s seat and ensures the things needed to be successful get done? This is where many drop the ball because once the fun part is over, the hard work begins. Most are unwilling to follow through.
- An entrepreneur is accountable and responsible. Who has the highest stakes in the company? Who has the most to lose? Who takes it upon themselves to be the catalyst needed to push the company to success? The entrepreneur does what it takes and makes it her/his responsibility to be the one accountable.
In the businesses I created, I was great as a starter. I was like a thoroughbred who was quick out of the gate but faltered after the first turn. I could get the business off the ground. But when it came to driving the business or being accountable for the success of the company, I failed every time.
The reason so many fail at entrepreneurship is because they like the glamour of telling people they started a business. But, they don’t want to get inside the machine and sweat. They like the idea of posting pictures of themselves on social media with the hashtag, #entrepreneurlife. But, they don’t want to get their hands dirty with the things it takes to be successful.
When most see that it takes a lot of hard work, they falter and let the business die.
I did. I did it every single time.
Case Study: BigHeadBoy Design
In late 2000, my friend and I scored a huge web design contract. We worked very well together, so we made it official and decided we would hang out our shingle as a partnership.
We thought it would be easy. That was our first mistake.
We set up the LLC and deposited our money in the bank. Neither one of us knew what the hell we were doing. We knew we had to meet the terms of the contract, so we worked to do that.
But, didn’t all entrepreneurs have these cool new cellphones? And, don’t we have to start promoting our business so we can get more clients? We needed marketing materials. We needed the best marketing materials.
We found many things to spend our money on and soon, much of it was gone. We were talking to new clients who were impressed with our fancy marketing brochures and website, but neither of us was accountable for success.
We were working tirelessly, but for the wrong things.
I told myself, “Why should I be accountable? I am already building websites and making sales calls.” I was struggling to find time to do the things needed to keep the business afloat. My excuses were I had a full-time job and a pesky mental illness.
I reveled in the excuses.
Neither of us asked for help, and before long the pressure of trying to keep all the balls in the air took its toll.
I could no longer keep making excuses for myself. I was barely surviving.
I left the business. My friend took on another partner and tried to continue, but it wasn’t the same.
Are You An Entrepreneur?
Are you taking responsibility for driving your business to success? Or do you just want to post hustle-porn on Instagram? Are you willing to hustle or do you want to look like you do?
If you are adding “entrepreneur” to all your social profiles, are you doing what it takes to be a success? Are you willing to be the starter, driver, and the one accountable for everything?
I do things a little differently now. I still own an LLC, but I don’t call myself an entrepreneur. I am still in the starting phase. I took on the risk, but I haven’t decided on the path I need to take to be successful. Yes, I am hustling to make something out of my business. I am figuring it out as I go. I am not trying to assume I know anything. I’m learning with each step I take.
One day, when I have a thriving business, I may tell people I am an entrepreneur. Until then I'm working toward a goal. I am paying my dues and finding my path to success.
Do you still think you are an entrepreneur? If you are, I applaud you! You have taken the reins and are doing what it takes to drive your venture to success. You could teach some of us a thing or two about what being an entrepreneur is.
If you are like me and are finding your way, I have a few words for you:
There are a lot of us who are in the same place. Keep hustling. Keep working tirelessly every day. Keep paying your dues. Do whatever it takes to get where you want. Be a starter. Be a driver. Be the one responsible for everything.
Earn the entrepreneur title.