I don’t want to step on any toes here, but self-proclaimed entrepreneurs practically grow on trees these days. I can’t read a Twitter bio, a LinkedIn profile, or a blog post without seeing someone refer to themselves as an “[insert industry here] entrepreneur”! It drives me a little nuts.
In my opinion, you don’t earn the right to use that title until you’ve actually accomplished your initial business goal. You shouldn’t toss it around just because you like the way it sounds. It's a pollutant to the genuine entrepreneurial community. It's also this misuse of titles that create the need for real entrepreneurs to come up with other words to describe the real thing.
For example, in the 1800's the term "gentlemen" referred to a man with an extensive moral code, who owned land, was married, and carried a good name within his community. Today, it's anyone who opens a door for a woman.
Simply referring to yourself as an entrepreneur or an innovator isn’t going to cut it…and it doesn’t automatically make you part of the club. For example, working for yourself, and being an entrepreneur are different. Below, I have listed a few common signs of the fake entrepreneur.
1. You're A Freelance Rockstar
Oh the millions of freelancers... The creatives who believe working for themselves doing what they love is entrepreneurship. But throughout history, this career path has always been referred to as a "merchant". A self-employed individual who trades their craft for money.
Unlike freelancers, entrepreneurs don't trade their time for dollars. With this model, you can only make as much money as you have time. It's a losing structure.
The goal of a freelancer is to have a steady job with no boss, to do great work, to gradually increase demand so that the hourly wage goes up and the quality of gigs goes up too. You're a freelance for hire, not an entrepreneur.
2. You're An Employee At Your Own Company
We see this all the time with restaurant owners, coffee shop owners, hair salon owners and about a hundred other ventures where people have created themselves a job. Michael Gerber in his book "The E-Myth" refers to these fakepreneurs as "technicians". Those who are so good at their craft are unable to work for someone else but so weak at the required competencies of growing a company, that they end up reverting to employee-based technician mentality.
Technicians spend almost all their time working in their business instead of working on their business.
3. You're Employable Under The Right Conditions
I might be one of the most qualified people to write this paragraph. From 15-19 years old I had 16 jobs ranging from bailing hay and working at PETCO to an associate at a skate shop in my hometown. I was fired from almost every one of them. I am 100% unemployable. And even now, 11 years later, I have never worked for another person.
Now, I'm not saying that you can't have a successful employee career and become an entrepreneur sometime in the future. Nor am I saying you can't have a job while launching your new company. But I am saying employment is not an option for your future. People (even if they currently work for themselves) who would even consider a well paid secure job over chasing their dream, are not entrepreneurs.
True entrepreneurs will turn down $150,000 salary and a company car for a $36,000 salary and a 60 hour work week. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with pride or financial intelligence either, it's almost solely a drive from purpose, vision, and personal control.
Entrepreneurs know you can chase your own dream, or help someone else chase theirs. They always choose the first.
So What Is An Entrepreneur?
True entrepreneurs will tell you it's rarely about money. Rather it's about creating systems that can scale an organization into something bigger than themselves. Sure at some point, they will be the only employee of their company, and they might even have a part-time job during a portion of their journey. But legit entrepreneurs only build companies that eventually produce revenue without them. Or as Richard Branson once said, "entrepreneurs make money in their sleep." Freelancers, technicians, and employees don't.
Entrepreneurs are scale masters, job creators, and freedom generators. They work with tenacity and intention, they are addicted to their vision, and at the core, their work is about solving problems.
Do You Want To Become A Real Entrepreneur?
Are you a fake entrepreneur? Or maybe you're an aspiring entrepreneur? How can you align yourself with the real definition of the term? Let me know in the comments below.