First off, don’t worry. This isn’t one of those articles where the author tells the reader that she doesn’t deserve to call herself an entrepreneur. That’s not the point.
I started my own firm (in name only—no clients of my own yet—so that I could be “of counsel” for another law firm). Then I cofounded a business. I read The 4-Hour Work Week. I listened to Gary Vaynerchuk. I researched how to get passive income.
I drank the entrepreneurship Kool-Aid.
I just recently took “Entrepreneur” off my social media profile bios. Why?
I’ll admit. It sounded cool. It felt cool. But it just wasn’t a good fit for me.
Why I stopped
I’m not an entrepreneur. And I’m not trying to be. Looking back, I’m a bit embarrassed to have even given myself the title.
I spent most of 2016 immersed in the startup world. My clients were mostly tech startups working on cool and innovative platforms. I hung out at co-working spaces where it seemed like everyone had that entrepreneurial spirit. And that spirit was contagious. I spent months working on a startup myself before pivoting and working with exclusively creatives.
As an attorney for creatives, I’ve learned that some of them are entrepreneurs and some are not. When you take a look at their businesses and their ambitions, it’s obvious. And this difference matters. Entrepreneurs have completely different mindsets, pain points, and legal needs than non-entrepreneurs.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any beef with entrepreneurs or entrepreneurship. Some of my favorite clients are entrepreneurs. I respect the heck out entrepreneurship.
What is entrepreneurship?
I’m not gonna to even try to provide a definition of entrepreneurship. The word is evolving as people continue to stretch and misappropriate the original meaning. (Thanks for that insight, English major!!)
But I do think that entrepreneurship has a lot to do with being comfortable with lots of risk. And having the itch to build, scale, and sell innovative businesses (plural). And enjoying the business side of the business over the craft side of the business.
I’m not chasing massive growth, or the next big business idea, or passive income. I’m not interested in finding investors. I’m not looking to build an empire.
I’m chasing sustainability. I’m trying to create a community filled with meaningful relationships. I’m focusing on building a business that allows me to make a living by providing a unique value to people I enjoy working with. If I happen to put a dent in the universe along the way, so be it.
I’ve been talking to other business owners and mentors about this. And I’ve learned I’m not alone. As sexy as entrepreneurship sounds, the reality of being an entrepreneur is rough. It takes a certain personality and a certain set of strengths. It’s not for everyone.
Entrepreneurs vs business owners
But just because you don’t identify as an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you can’t be a business owner. I’m hearing lots of talk about, “It’s okay if you’re not an entrepreneur. You can be an intrapreneur.” The thinking here is that, if you’re not an entrepreneur, then your skill sets make you better fit as an employee than a boss.
I call bullshit.
It’s not like you have to choose between calling yourself an entrepreneur or a small business owner. There’s obviously an overlap there. But—especially now—there’s a lot of pressure for small business owners to embrace the entrepreneur mindset. And, hey, if that’s a good fit for you, awesome!!
But if it’s not, there’s nothing wrong with you. If the title of “Entrepreneur” is starting to feel stale or inauthentic, it’s okay. Take pride in being a small business owner who is super passionate about your craft.