3 Signs You’re A Fake Entrepreneur

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.

fake

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.

Author

Dale Partridge
Dale Partridge is the Founder of StartupCamp.com. He's also a keynote speaker and author of the Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling book People Over Profit.

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  1. Jeremy says:

    I’m happy to say that I don’t exhibit any of these 3 signs. However I did have some takeaways that I think are extremely important.

    – I’m not an entreprenuer just because I’ve started the business. There has to be results. There has to be a growing entity that not only provides freedom for me to work on my own company, but one that solves problems for people, and the marketplace at large.

    – It can’t be all about the money. It’s about solving problems for people, and following that vision.

    I’m a money oriented kind of person. While it’s good to be smart with money, I have a feeling it’s something I need to keep in check so I don’t lose focus of the greater cause at large.

    Amazing how there’s always something to be learned.

    Until my business solves real world problems, I’m not a full-on entrepreneur. The money will come afterwards.

    I need to do more research into how I can ensure that my startup solves the problems it needs to solve via building the structures needed to make it happen.

    Great article!

    Reply
  2. Preet says:

    Such a great writing. I was called an entrepreneur 2 years ago by somebody and I was a little stunned at that because I am an advocate (a professional) and a blogger (the one who write blogs as a hobby), and I have never felt like an entrepreneur. Maybe people are not clear about the concept and confuse it with anything that comes close to working alone. 🙂

    Reply
  3. l2entrepreneur says:

    I know a guy who calls himself and entrepreneur and he’s been creating problems instead of solving problems. Sooner or later, I found out that his little startup and projects were in the hundreds of thousands in debt, and he lived with his mom. Bratty, nonstop fantasizing about a rich lifestyle, owed a lot of people money, and always tried to beg for money to pay for his food or cigarettes. Definitely not worth my time and investment.

    Reply
  4. Aline says:

    I wanna print this to my wall! Thanks. Such an amazing article.

    Reply
    • Dale Partridge says:

      Do it! Do it! 😉 Thanks Aline, so glad you landed on this page.

      Reply
  5. Catharina says:

    Nailed it! I worked for a startup. It will sink like Titanic soon. No progress, just lies, to keep the crowd going with him: The CEO works on his field and not on the business. Blind for all the complex patterns and structures. Sinking fakepreneur-ship, feel sorry for the partners though.

    Reply
    • Dale Partridge says:

      Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. Sounds like it was a good thing you got out when you did.

      Reply
  6. Paul says:

    if you want to see a fake Entrepreneur then checkout “ChaseTheDream” who runs a website in theUK and is also on facebook because the person running this scam has left a string of debt all over the place along with angry customers from a company called Peachy Lemon but now she is offering advice on how to make money.

    These people beleive their own BS as if they are smarter than everyone else and it is this which makes them such good scammers

    Reply
    • Yes, scammers are one a whole different level! Such a terrible thing to ruin one’s own integrity and not care about it.

      Reply
    • This was an awesome read! Really enjoyed this one. The best entrepreneurs usually have someone who they look up to and aspire to emulate. Whether it’s in their personal life or professional life, the best entrepreneurs know someone who they see as a success and they’ve studied the steps they’ve taken to get there.

      Reply
      • Dale Partridge says:

        Absolutely. Mentors are absolutely essential for success.

        Reply
  7. Dale,

    Bulls Eye, After reading your article, I just realized that I have ended up meeting few this kind of person who wants to show them as the entrepreneur but they are just a freelancer.

    I love to the 3rd point which is perfectly fine. Thanks for making my day.

    Reply
  8. Ashley says:

    Thank you for this article. It hurt reading it because I am ready to look for a secure job to give up my dream because I’ve struggled and I have no extra strength. I always think I’ll come back later when I’ve saved up enough to afford chasing my dream. Anyway, I’m glad I read this.

    Reply
    • Glad you read it, too, Ashley! And glad to have you here. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Sara says:

    Great article! I enjoyed it, but I have a question which perhaps comes before the step of defining what one is– how do I figure out my dream?
    Does my not having recognized my dream make me a lifelong employee?

    Reply
    • Hey, Sara! Recognizing a dream sometimes comes naturally to people, but way more often than not, it takes a lot of work, discovery, and commitment to trying before clarity comes! I just wrote a book actually on this particular step in the process, the precursor to launching a dream: finding out what it is! Here’s a link if you’re interested: https://shop.startupcamp.com/products/find-your-calling

      Reply
  10. Adriaan says:

    This was a very good, but freightening read. When I saw this article, I needed to read it, because, well the truth is… I feel I have always had the urge to be an entrepreneur, at my core. I’ve tried many things, and have failed at many things, I don’t see it as failure though, merely learning. But this has made me question that I might not be on my way to becoming an entrepreneur at all…

    Recently, I’ve strated believing that I might not be, because I do not fully undrestand the meaning of the word. But I have a dream, a dream of helping others become free, a dream of choosing the “latter”, not in an employee sense, but choosing it none the less, by helping others achieve their dreams of becoming independant.

    I guess my question is, I don’t think being a servant makes someone a fake entrepreneur, does it? I’m also not accusing you of making this statement… It’s just so obvious nowadays that the bulk of people are only in it for themselves, and I think that might also remove them from the “Entrepeneur” list.

    Thanks for your wisdom Dale, I appreciate your reads and learn a lot from them, also thoroughly enjoyed “People over Profit.”

    You are a great leader.

    Reply
    • Gosh, thank you so much, Adriaan. Such incredible encouragement and I am utterly humbled. To answer your question, having a servant’s heart definitely doesn’t discount anyone from being a great leader and entrepreneur. In fact, I’d say its integral to being one, which is how the idea of People Over Profit came about. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Hi Dale, I love your article about fake entrepreneurs. I am currently running an Accelerator in Vienna and sold my house for this project. It is my 3rd company actually as I started my 1st company when I was 28 after being fired 3 times from big corporations. I decided to start a company and found the idea after making the decision. I grew up the company till 20 people in 2 continents (China & France). After 10 years I went bankrupt and move to Austria, learned German and 18 month later start a real estate agency. Great to learn German but very boring. Impossible to build something bigger and very poor creative business . I stopped the activity, sold my house, open a space and 1 year after an intensive learning process ( when I say intensive it means from the time you wake up till the time you go to sleep) we finally found a unique value proposition in the Europen market, build a proof of concept and we are now ready to scale. We are trying to raise our first fund of 18M € (my god how difficult it is). It’s funny because a few weeks ago, one pretending business angel asked me why instead of building the organization I could not help him with one of his startup and go to China. I was very upset. I replied him that I was not a consultant but that I wanted to build something BIG. You cannot believe how many fake of everything are on this world. May be next time write an article about the fake investors/business angels.
    Today I am running out of money because the accelerator is something very hard to turn to profitable ( I know how to do it, just it take a bit more time and money than expected ); but I love what I do and one thing that you mentioned about the choice to be employed or entrepreneurs; for me being an employee when sometimes I am thinking about it; it is worse than the prison. I just cannot do it, it’s depress me when I am thinking about it. Terrible. And one thing which make me very happy is to turn ab employee to entrepreneur. The vision is to open the cage and let the bird flying with freedom. Yes freedom even I have to precise that the cost is very high. The entry ticket is very expensive but the feeling to create, build up something bigger than you is so marvelous. Now my friends and family helped me to continue the project and we are applying a grant which normally we should get. This will help us to continue for 1 year and normally we should be able in this period of time to catch money from corporation and perhaps raise our fund. I don’t pay me since 27 month and from this point of view I have 5,5 more months in front. Not that much. I am living alone with my son, so no husband to support me and couldn’t assume a relationship during this building process as it would be unbearable for the partner. I love entrepreneurship, this is my passion. I love to see young people trying to build up big things and starting from scratch and this is what I am doing today with the ambition that this will bring me soon enough to be able to continue the venture. I have no dreams to become very rich but I have the dream to build up something BIG.
    Thanks again for your article. Best.
    Isabelle

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your story and honesty, Isabelle! Very much appreciated. Keep working hard, remember to rest, and give yourself grace.

      Reply
  12. This is a really great post. I have conversations all the time with freinds about the difference between a startup and a small business. I think the discussion of entrepreneur here is in the same vein.

    Reply
  13. This is excellent. It reminded me I’m on track and that I am indeed an entrepreneur. Thanks for the quality content you’re providing.

    Reply
  14. I’ve read this article a few times before today, and it continues to encourage me and fuel my almost-insane passion to continue as an entrepreneur. Your statement, “True entrepreneurs will turn down $150K…for $36K and a 60 hour work week,” resonates with me. Sometimes I need to be reminded that what I’m doing is what other true entrepreneurs are doing. I’m not alone. So, thank you!

    Reply
  15. Cherrelle Thomas says:

    Question. I was reading one of your articles about fake entrepreneurs. If what Im comprehending is correct, its basically when you’re earning revenue without physically being available. I want my own pole fitness studio in the future, but I actually would have to be available to teach. What title would you consider pole studio owners?

    Reply
    • If you can make money and not be there then yeah, you would be an entrepreneur.

      Reply
  16. Great article. Yes being an entrepreneur is about pursuing your dream and vision and not looking back at what if scenarios. As someone who has had the itch for business ownership since I was 12 when I finally took the leap it was scary but exciting. Being able to leverage your self beyond trading time for money and actually building systems where you are making money when when on vacation is what takes owners to the next levels of success.

    Reply
  17. Yes. I agree. I am trying to create a job for myself, and ultimately for others. I am a creative, passionate, hard-working, independent woman. I love a challenge and thrive on learning and discovery. I want to pay my bills and enjoy some of the finer things in life, but I don’t give a shit about money (a substantial obstacle for a business owner). I have always had difficulties with “titles”. But, I agree Entrepreneur should be reserved for those in the black; fair enough. For now, I guess I’m a hard-working Dreamer. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  18. Lisa says:

    I started off not liking this article at all. It felt kind of callous and I have no idea why I felt irritated by the tone. But it’s 100% true. There is a world of difference that is worthy of being defined and separated as you’ve done. Nothing wrong with any of these positions (i.e. Freelancer, Entrepreneur, etc.), but it’s meaningful to understand the difference. Excellent read!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading it through Lisa. I appreciate your support.

      Reply
  19. Great article Dale! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and funny I’ve found this article (law of attraction? lol).
    I am totally unemployable and left the employment world a long time ago. I’ve started off as a freelancer as a way of making money but always wanted to build a business. At the present moment I don’t work or charge by the hour or for my time, but for results. I’m also building a system to sell products and make money when I’m asleep so I have several sources of income. It’s a mindset really. I do have specific goals and I’m hustling and chasing them like never before. As a solopreneur I really like this kind of articles.

    Reply
  20. Gray says:

    Interesting article, but I have to ask another question the same vein and also widespread. What about the term ‘professional’? Everyone uses it, but are they really professionals? Originally, and still today, the term signifies a requirement for licensure, such as engineering, accounting, teaching, medicine/health–meaning, a profession is a particular standing and an ongoing requirement to maintain it ethically and legally. More recently, it is considered a standard but hard to track and prove. This can be misleading, causing people to trust someone who truly is not ‘licensed’. So does that mean that if someone says they are a ‘professional blogger’, does that mean they are licenesed to do so and garner CEUs, are monitored by a governing body,, and have they received and worked for professional designation, and follow laws and ethics required by the industry itself? Even journalists cannot say they are professionals, as it is considered a vocation–there is no ongoing licensure requirements, although there are requirements to adherence to the laws and ethics in the press. You wouldn’t trust someone who says they are a doctor, but not licensed to do so, so why are people so quick to accept the word ‘professional’ without either the standing, educational requirements, continuing education and adherence to practitioner requirements?

    In the American Webster’s Dictionary, this is the full definition of profession

    1: the act of taking the vows of a religious community

    2: an act of openly declaring or publicly claiming a belief, faith, or opinion : protestation

    3: an avowed religious faith

    4: a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation b : a principal calling, vocation, or employment c : the whole body of persons engaged in a calling.

    So how it is that people promote themselves as professionals, yet many do not require continuing education, licenses or have to follow specific laws and ethics in order to operate as a so-called ‘professional’? Although Malcolm Gladwell talkes about the 10,000 hours to become a specialist, it still doesn’t garner the traditional requirements.

    And of course, freelancer was the traditional term for ‘fighter for hire,’ and as we now know, the pen can be mightier than the sword.

    Reply
  21. Great article!
    Although I’ve run my own business for 26 years, I have never seen myself as an entrepreneur.
    I’m a technician by the sounds of it. I’ve bumped into all the categories listed above and found this great to clarify who’s who and what’s going on.

    Reply
  22. Boy! That was needed! Truly, the word “entrepreneur” is been tossed around like some kind of title that means “I’m not technically employed I just tell people about the stuff I might work on”. I’ve seen so many people like that, they have an idea, tell everyone how awesome it is (without trying to figure out if it’s even doable) and then find an excuse to not work on it like “now is not the right time”. Anyway, I perfectly agree, they’re just so many fake entrepreneurs around, it’s a mes. I am an inspiring entrepreneur myself, but I just don’t use the word in general, because of my French background, it’s not something one woud say unless they already have a 200+ employees company.

    Reply
  23. I just want to say I am really glad I read this article BEFORE I started using that term in anything I market at this time. I have big aspirations but was feeling uncomfortable with all the people around me calling themselves entrepreneurs having just started their businesses. Thank you for the clarification!

    Reply
  24. Thank you for my morning paradigm shift. 🙂

    Reply
  25. Mark G says:

    Thanks Dale. If anything your article was affirming for me that I AM and entrepreneur and I don’t have to doubt. Merry Christmas, brother. MG

    Reply
  26. Nice one Dale, you have set a new bar for me to scale. Thanks for the insight.

    Reply
  27. Normally I adore your writing but this comes across as so negative and, sad to say, arrogant.

    What also stands out to me is your picture is of a woman. Are you particularly aiming this at women? Or unconsciously?

    I think people can call themselves whatever they want, whatever they feel suits them. As long as they are true to their purpose.

    I also think it is time for a new economy, one that elevates the feminine energy and redefines the business model to include the feminine.

    I hear what you say about setting goals, but I find it very much in the entrepreneurial spirit for someone to redefine – and define for herself – what an entrepreneur is and which goals are relevant.

    And yes, I have reached many of my goals and no, some I still have not. Some goals turned out to be not what I wanted. I consider myself an entrepreneur – amongst many other things – because I am open to this journey, the shifts, the surprises and I honor the path by being open to the fact that it will change and transform into something that I never had imagined as well as everything I had imagined.

    Reply
  28. Jordan Charters says:

    Thanks for the reminder Dale! It wasn’t tell I stopped being a Technician in my own company that I really saw the magic happen. It was hard at first since I was so passionate about my craft in Massage Therapy. Teaching others and building the culture necessary to duplicate myself was a daunting task although, well worth the sacrifices. Keep posting great insights brother! I have thoroughly enjoyed being a Ambassador for Sevenly. God bless you and your wonderful family this Christmas season!

    Reply
  29. Dale, I have really learned a lot from you. You have not only helped me define what an entrepreneur really is but you have motivated me to push myself beyond my fears. I look forward to reading more posts by you! Thank you.

    Reply
  30. Hey Dale, your article is a turning point for me to make a decision! You’are 100% right! I cannot be a freelancer and an entrepreneur at the same time. Working on operation level occupies my time for creating management structure, ideas and strategies. You are the first coach speaking about real business so I will follow your courses.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your support, Goran. I know you will reap many benefits from being a part of StartupCamp. 🙂

      Reply
  31. A really great read and very inspiring! That’s exactly what I needed today as I started to be my own employee lately and disliked it. Thanks for this inspiring article.

    Reply
  32. What irks me is when small business owners refer to themselves as entrepreneurs because they started the business on their own. I’m talking about coffee shop or clothing store-type owners who want to use the word entrepreneur instead of just calling themselves small business owners. The term entrepreneur is definitely muddled. I’ve had tons of conversations about this. I’m a writer’s coach, trading my time for money. But I also produce products (my books and downloads, etc). I don’t intend to hire a big staff, but I do think about turning my coaching model into something that could be licensed. I’ve always called myself an entrepreneur, but it’s a gray area.

    Reply
  33. Jane says:

    And yes, it is all about being able to make LIMITLESS money somewhat passively; not body for hire freelancer (and then you’re both an employee and having to file for company status). I’ve done every version of this and am every day one step closer to breaking through.

    Reply
  34. Jane says:

    Exactly! Amen. If I were to put “Self-Employed” on a resume it is key for “Unemployed and desperate” even though I am certifably paying for myself with money I earn on my own as a business entity. That’s how much people are FAKEPRENEURS, they’ve ruined their ability for the rest of us to use the term self-emplyoed, freelance, or consultant even. Seriously. WTH.

    Reply
  35. Micah B says:

    This article stung a bit, thanks for the reality check. I’m the one who went from full on entrepreneur to allowing myself to be bought out and with out realizing it, became a technician.

    Reply
    • Dang. Tough reality but at least you know. Thanks for the support.

      Reply
  36. Jon says:

    This is a great article. I’m sure you’re familiar with people in shady multi level marketing/pyramid scheme businesses who call themselves entrepreneurs.

    Reply
  37. Just found your blog. Love this article. A bit ruthless but so helpful for self reflection! loved to see which category I fit into right now…a technician! Your book sounds great, would love to read more.

    Reply
    • Awesome. Thanks for the love. Hope you enjoy the book too 🙂

      Reply
  38. At first I was in disagreement with some of this because I know there are people who are really passionate about their work and want to be hands on with it no matter how big they get. But now that I think about it that’s different from the barber who owns his shop but has to work for it to keep it alive.

    I’m in college right now. When people ask me who I want to work for I don’t have an answer because I want to work for myself. I wouldn’t mind temporarily working for a company like Intel that aligns with my interests and can help me support my business goals though. Aside from that it seems I do fit the characteristics of an entrepreneur. I’ve been reluctant to use that term till recently especially because I’m still struggling with the early stages. But after embracing it I’ve been more confident in decision making and authority and I feel like I can achieve my goals now. I can say for sure what I’m doing to do instead of “Well umm I kinda run these two things. We’re serious” That can’t be a bad thing right?

    Reply
    • Good job. It takes boldness to challenge our assumptions. Keep it up.

      Reply
  39. Mark Andeer says:

    I like the thought and it’s one that I have grappled with during my career as well. It’s probably important to mention that the assassination of business titles is nothing new. e.g. the V.P. title used to be held by a select few at the top of a company – now look, a designer used to be someone who knew how to make something look aesthetically pleasing through their craft – now anyone that can turn on a mac is a “designer”, etc. Some title’s are being destroyed by a greater accessibility to technology while others are being destroyed by a need that some companies feel they have to over title people in the hopes of keeping or getting better talent. In the end, let’s hope that it’s the content of someones work that matters, not the title on their door.

    Reply
  40. Siri says:

    wow this article hurt my feelings! Lol but in a good way
    Thanks for opening my eyes. I def am not a fake, BUT I see
    Where I need to improve and keep going. Looking forward to more articles.

    Reply
    • Haha! Lean into discomfort my friend, it’s the only way we truly grow. 🙂

      Reply
  41. Riska says:

    I always have this question in my head. I want to be an entrepreneur but doesn’t seem to have the guts or ‘instinct’ to do it properly. Do you have to be “born” an entrepreneur to be one? Do you believe in the sentence “fake it till you become it”?

    Reply
    • I think entrepreneurship can be learned. It’s easier for some but all can succeed if they try. Consider enrolling here at StartupCamp if you decide to chase the dream.

      Reply
  42. Can I share this blog on my blog website?

    Eric

    Reply
  43. Conan Breitmeier says:

    Whew! I have been fired from ever job I’ve ever had, some jobs twice and even once fired by my own father, but now I know there is still hope for me yet lol.

    You truly are an inspiration and a positive motivation for me to build in areas that are scale-able and reevaluate the areas that are not. Focus on my strengths and learn to use my weaknesses for good, even if it is pure motivation to better myself in those areas.

    Reply
  44. Great article. I have always felt that business owners put themselves into the “entrepreneur” category to easily. Love your clarification of what the term means.

    Reply
  45. Great article. I have to say it slapped me in the face a couple times. I say i want to make money while i sleep, yet i see how most of the work i do is trading tasks for money. This really makes me think twice about my use of the word and I will set in action aligning myself with the true meaning of entrepreneurship. Thanks for posting!!

    E.

    Reply
  46. What a great article. I’ve been wrestling with entrepreneurship and what that means. This month I’ll be leaving my full-time corporate job behind to pursue full-time freelance… but I have so many business ideas swarming in my head. Some of which I can see creating income in my sleep—others requiring me to be involved 95% of the time. So much to figure out, and I feel like I don’t have enough time in a day to do so. I’ve stumbled across your course this morning and have put it at the top of my list. While I can’t bring myself to invest now (taking the leap to working for myself means uncertain income, so I simply can’t justify it at this moment), I hope to invest SOON. Thanks for sharing. I cannot wait to take part.

    Reply
  47. Dale, I’ve really enjoying discovering your work after one of the (many) podcasts you did recently. I think I heard you on Social Media Examiner. I was 3 years into a thriving photography biz when I realized I didn’t own a business. I owned my own job. I made the transition to making money while I sleep, etc, and am seeing a tipping point…but even at a 6-digit per quarter deal, I by no means consider myself an entrepreneur. I’m a SOLOpreneur at best… but there’s still no doubt in my mind that I’m 95% wannabe and 5% solopreneur. Just bc I’ve done something tiny once doesn’t mean jack. Entrepreneurs create systems that scale, and they do it over and over and over again. Anyway, great article. I’ll be a StartupCamper by the end of the night.

    Reply
  48. Matthew Monk says:

    Ready, Fire, Aim! Here I go! Thank you Dale for putting out into the world what it (and I) need right at this very moment. I initially heard you yesterday on the EOFire podcast and you have COMPLETELY changed my attitude and thinking. I am still working a fulltime job for a company that does not see the value of people. What a major source of frustration! As of this morning, I am now a camper and happier already as I prepare to strike out on my own in an industry I understand. I will help people, both customers and the employees I choose to hire. I will create my own freedom by doing so!

    Reply
  49. Robin says:

    After reading the article and following many of your other very insightful articles, podcasts etc. I still am not sure where I fall into place. I am ‘creating’ a job for myself due to the fact that I have a family member that makes it very difficult to have a job in the field I enjoyed and went to school for. The job I am ‘creating’ is very rewarding but not my passion—either that or i am having a hard time surrendering to what I thought I was going to do vs what my options are now. There is a need for my (new) job within the community but limited funds. I do not stay up till the wee hours of the night and if my sons health needs tend to blow up on a day then I pretty much get nothing done. Finding a balance between starting a new business and taking care of my family has me baffled. I am super interested in taking your Startup Camp course but must admit I am scared.

    Reply
    • You’ll never know unless you try, Robin. What’s the worst that could happen? You fail? Then fail forward. If you think you will reach success without fear or failure.. you are largely mistaken. You can do this. Remember that everyone starts somewhere. StartupCamp is PERFECT for you, and I created it with people like you in mind.

      Reply
  50. This truly speaks to me. I still need to work more to create that automation where I’m making money in my sleep. I’m currently transitioning from being a Freelancer to an Entrepreneur. There’s a long way to go but this is great to know what path NOT to take.

    Reply
  51. Paul David says:

    This is really good! I was reading it aloud to my fiance who owns a salon (she does not claim to be an entrepreneur) & she laughed out loud when I read the “technician” section & said “oh that is so true”… I agree with the point about money too. I have a friend who just stopped his personal business to take a job that he said he couldn’t pass up & I was thinking to myself “is there any job that would cause me to give up?” & I truly couldn’t think of anything… I think even if a was filthy rich I would still be doing something & growing something & helping someone else grow too!

    Reply
  52. James M. says:

    Hi Dale, I am curious – My wife and I are photographers who have dabbled in shooting and getting paid for the last five years. For sure the fear of failing, not believing I have what it takes to successfully run my own business, know-how, these things have all been barricades to fully dedicating ourselves. I continually fall back on jobs that I end up hating, don’t earn enough income to support my family and our desires to be generous, and want more freedom and purpose in what I do. We are on the cusp of pursuing our photography with intentionality and I want to know, after reading this article, is StartupCamp something that we would benefit from? I thought so for sure, and then I read this article and perhaps we fall into the freelance category…

    Your reply is most appreciated. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Hey James. Sorry for the late reply. Just getting back into the swing of things after my book launch. StartupCamp sounds PERFECT for where you two are at. Registration closes tomorrow. There is no contract so give it a whirl for 2-3 months. I’m confident it will change your trajectory.

      Reply
  53. Thanks for the reality check reminder. Work on a business that doesn’t require you to be in it for it to function. Making money while you sleep.

    Reply
  54. Rianna says:

    Loved reading this, my sentiments exactly! even more loved seeing that you’re actively replying to the comments.

    Reply
  55. Wham! Bam! Thank you, ma’am! Great 3 pointer article that even had me asking, “so, what the heck is his definition of an entrepreneur? ” Sheesh! Guess I made the cut, reading at 2 am, after working on processes that would continue to make me money while I’m sleeping.

    Reply
  56. Hi Dale,
    This is my first visit to this blog and enjoyed reading a great comparison between fakepreneurs and entrepreneurs.
    Video is also very interesting. You are an outstanding speaker. 🙂

    Reply
  57. Nice article! It was just the affirmation I’ve been looking for. I really liked #3. Before reading your article, I was actually in a mild funk because (although I don’t really want one nor have I seriously looked for any), I haven’t been offered any employment in a long time. I’m glad to discover this is a positive sign after all. 🙂

    Reply
    • Haha out there it isn’t considered a positive sign.. but in here we know what it really means – you are UNEMPLOYABLE 😀

      Reply
  58. Hi Dale,

    Agree with you! A great post that helps identify this difference between a real entrepreneur and a fakepreneur.
    But don’t you think that starting as a freelancer, the person is one step near being an entrepreneur because he or she has a vision and confidence to get business based on his or her skills. If he learns the techniques of marketing his skills, he can earn more business.
    What do you say?

    Reply
  59. Bunkle Firesheets says:

    have you ever sold popcorn in a blizzard? Thought not, guess your no entrepreneur…

    Reply
  60. Such a true and honest article! Now, after reading this I can understand that there are lots of fake entrepreneur. Thanks for nice article.

    Reply
  61. Hi, I am developer and founder of EasyHashtag(http://www.easyhashtag.com/) a twitter tracking and visualization tool. We started out with this tool with very limited funds. I agree with most of the points here, but for someone like me I cannot afford to hire a experienced technical resource, so I am involved in most of the development work. Does this fall into “employee in my own company?” and what do you suggest would be best thing I can do?

    Reply
  62. gabreil says:

    Thanks Dale, Let me tell you if this is the case, then 90% entrepreneurs in INDIA are FAKE.. lol.. They are just merchants in disguise or even merchants who hire freelancers on project basis to make a big cake. Some of these are also visiting teachers in the country’s best IIT & IIM and other management schools- even international Bschools in India! (Delhi, Chandigrah, Kanpur, Lucknow, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkatta & Pune)

    This was an eye opener. I was going to join a so called Entreprenuership course with one of them but when I read the reality, I guess they just have their eyes on Money… and most are already making a lot of it via this big chain of bschool courses and hiring INTERNS from them.. at no pay or low pay. Which means, they are just fake. They want the money and more of it… and they go to Bschools to give one guest lecture in a quarter to pitch for worker-bees who will join their company as an “intern” (read unpaid employee who has been sold to their dream)

    The real entreprenuer as you said is the one who brings a big change or some helpful cause in this world. Thank you

    Reply
  63. I think your opinion of the definition of an entrepreneur completely missed the mark. Your description makes being an entrepreneur sound like checking off a list of accomplishments that someone else wrapped up in a neat little box. Entrepreneurship is about breaking out of that box and building something special and unique. It’s the endurance and tenacity you apply getting to the goal. It’s the willingness to put yourself out there. It’s the spirit with which you jump both feet first into the unknown and pave your own road. It’s the ability to endure failures that would crush most people and still get the the next morning to open the doors. It’s not the type of service you offer or how much money you make doing it. Having a company that makes money when you don’t do anything describes an executive, not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is in the trenches (even if the trenches means running a company of thousands of people), rolling up their sleeves, getting dirty, and loving every second of it.

    Reply
    • Larry says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I like how the blogger avoids all comments that contradict his opinion. He seems to misunderstand why people do work at their own companies. For example, a restaurant chef/owner is in the business because s/he is passionate about cooking and seeing people wonderfully pleased by the food. People go to a restaurant knowing that the executive chef is back there overseeing the final product and not for some line cook making the food.

      Reply
    • I absolutely love your response Kelly.

      The problem with this article is the negative and arrogant tone of it. I had to read it a second time to eliminate the immediate push-back and I do agree with the 3 points that were made.

      I wish this article was written in a tone to inspire and not discredit. I don’t think that was his intention, but it definitely resonated that way.

      Reply
  64. I call my self a freelancer. I imagined owning a business and being an employee but now see the importance of employing others. I have also been fired from all my jobs due to “insubordination” or “overstepping boundaries”. What does this mean?

    I was misunderstanding the use of the word and the essence of entrepreneurship and so I thank you for the additional clarity. I think my new self-proclaimed title is Life Enthusiast or Eternal Student. Those just don’t quite do either.

    Reply
  65. Do you think it has anything to do with our culture? We praise entrepreneurs,especially here in Silicon Valley, so everyone thinks they should be one. Its like celebrities in LA. I certainly want to be my own boss and start a business. But an entrepreneur, I don’t even know if its in my blood.

    Reply
    • Oh definitely. Being an “entrepreneur” is the cool thing to do. It’s kind of like when you are a true follower of Jesus, the ones who call themselves have lives that look nothing like Jesus and the world judges the Christians by that. There’s nothing wrong with being a freelancer or anything else, I only meant to provide clarity on the differences. 🙂

      Reply
  66. That is a great insight into what a true entrepreneur really is. Thanks for clarifying through your experience and values. I am grateful a company I started 3 years ago is growing without me and I recently let go of it to focus on other opportunities.

    You are the man Dale!

    Reply
  67. I’m fake entrepreneur I guess, since I wrote to my site without much thought “I’m a fresh entrepreneur”. Actually when I think about this concept now, I don’t feel that I’m an entrepreneur, but my aim is to be in near future.

    In my opinion, categorizing people is quite black and white way to think and should usually be avoided, because it can cause huge misunderstandings. Like for example, if you categorize people by an ideology, there will be misunderstandings and unaccurate perceptions almost certainly.

    Just a honest thought, that is the way we Finns are built. One more secret about Finns. When u compliment a Finnish person, he/she propably feels uncomfortable and might think that there is something fishy going on! 🙂

    Keep on rocking and cooking aweinspiring articles.

    Reply
    • Haha! Appreciate your perspective, Juha. 🙂 My aim was only to clarify that there are differences between a freelancer and an entrepreneur.

      Reply
  68. Great article. It all sums up in developing systems that generate value, wellbeing and profit without being stuck in it. Saludos from Mexico.

    Reply
  69. It is always interesting to see the same idea stated different ways. Steven Pressfield’s “The War Of Art” refers to the difference between the amateur and the professional, and you refer to what I call the “entrepre-not” vs the real deal. It it always a good thing to be reminded of the difference; the “entrepre-not” fools himself in thinking great thoughts but never doing the work, while the professional just settles in for the long haul out of love and respect for his/her craft. When we do what we love, success follows. Wonderful to hear such wisdom and practicality from those who actually DO THE WORK. I’ll take all the cue cards I can get! Thanks, Dale.

    Reply
  70. hmmm…yes, this is a great distinction. Little bit condescending to a freelancer, or another category self-produced artists, maybe not necessarily intentional. However, I think it takes a lot of “tenacity, intention, and being addicted to your vision” to do anything self-generated. However, you are right it is so freeing to make this distinction, so, as an artist or freelancer I can be free of the label “entrepreneur” and say this is what I have to offer, now what? How do I either team up with an entrepreneur, or get real and begin to imagine how I can generate the income, time, and life that I want with what I have to offer as an artist. I think there are a lot of really incredible entrepreneurs out there who need ideas and so many artists trying to pretend they are entrepreneurs, but really need to accept they are artists, and would be of great service on a team. This is great to distinguish, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur, I want to be an artist, but I still have a lot of tenacity, determination, and a similar story to yours, tried to employ myself in other ways, but it’s not working, I have to do my art. But, doesn’t mean I don’t also have a dream of wealth and time freedom. I love the conversation of clarity, because I think people aren’t necessarily trying to be posers, but they are genuinely confused. They are driven and want more freedom in their life and feel like they need to be an entrepreneur to do this, rather than accepting who they are and imagining other possible ways that in the end probably fulfill their vision more than what they could have imagined! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jasmine says:

      I agree with this comment for sure. I took some important distinctions away from the original post so I am glad I read it . However I think it’s important that when making those distinctions not to try to take anything away from people or a particular path ie. (That of a freelancer) .
      Even posted comments above that say things like “just a freelancer” can put a bad taste in people’s mouth.
      I to am an artist of sorts as well and proud of it.
      However I understand the definitions set forth here.
      I have been on a mission to make money in my sleep in a way by offering written patterns of my work vs solely depending on income generated by what I can physically make myself and it has definitely been a game changer for me …so belive me … I GET it!

      Reply
  71. Funny! (well, it’s a great post!!), but what is funny is that I had seen this post around FB and the mere word (Fakepreneur) turned me off from reading it. I guess I had a slight fear that I would actually be one. But, alas, I am NOT!! Thanks for the insight.

    Reply
  72. Nehemiah says:

    On point article Dale! I have tried to communicate this effectively to friends of mine for some time…I’ll just forward this link now lol!

    Reply
  73. Jamelle says:

    Wow, you are spot on! It is about creating systems and achieving a high level of freedom. Excellent post!

    Reply
  74. “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.” I totally agree. Taking the whole trading your time for money concept and flipping it 180 degrees. It’s not about living a lavish lifestyle, but having enough to do what you love and enjoy life on your own terms.

    Reply
  75. Awesome post. I liked the example of gentlemen. It’s more of show off these days. It’s like there is a trend of being entrepreneur. People should always work on their business.
    Great article !

    Reply
  76. What a great article. Luckily I went through all the filters, ha! Though I started my journey from Freelancing, but ultimately created processes which didnt need me. After so many years, I am now striving to connect the extremely underpaid and unemployed human resource of Pakistan to the clintelle of the US through FB.com/EmpowerPakistan. Internet freelancing is changing lives here in third world and thats what I am focusing on. What does it make me? Entrepreneur or Fakepreneur?

    Reply
  77. Brian Smithers says:

    Would you consider a music producer as an entrepreneur?

    Reply
  78. Osama Malik says:

    You hit the nail in that one. I actually never thought to aspire to be the real definition of an entrepreneur but all the points you mentioned lead me to believe that I am embarking on that journey. Although I am very employ able and worked 2 years in the industry while being in school, i realized that’s not the life I wanted. Now I’ve turned down interviews at top firms and don’t bother to even apply for well paying jobs I’m capable for because I have my own plans cooking. Haha just like you mentioned and same thing I tell my parents and others, I’d rather make half as much with twice the number of hours doing something I love with my own freedom. Thanks for the post!!

    Reply
  79. I knew it! I knew was up to something rather than just sticking to just being a freelancer. 🙂

    Great article and thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dale!

    Reply
  80. I think even the obsession with being an “entrepreneur” starts people off with the wrong mindset and values..

    Rather than wanting to build a business and contribute value to the world, people want to be an entrepreneur for the sake of it. Its become more or less an ego thing.

    Reply
  81. Great article. I’m an unemployable Passionpreneur! Totally passionate about my business in social media and finding the business owners and authors their extra voice and quotes inside them and bring it out to tell the world. I resonated with points in this blog Dale and am busy scaling up my business as we speak.

    Reply
  82. Dale,

    Quality article. It’s been bothering me too and that is why I wrote an article about it a few weeks ago which can be found at – http://jacquesvh.com/is-the-term-entrepreneur-overused/ I focused on whether or not the term entrepreneur is overused amongst starters.

    At the end of day it doesn’t really matter what people call themselves, but more about what they do. However, yes, freelancers calling themselves entrepreneurs has kind of been annoying to me in the past year, simply because I met so many of them.

    Cheers for a good read.
    Jacques

    Reply
  83. Thanks Dale for the article,
    I was discussing same with my friend few weeks ago.
    Everyday i meet lot of people will who say they are entrepreneurs most of them are just freelancers.

    Reply
  84. Really appreciate you writing this post Dale. That said, I feel you’ve only scratched the surface as it’s leaving me wanting more (some of which I am learning as I live it). I love how you explored time vs money and ultimately, entrepreneurship is about problem solving, scalability to implement systems of automation and to ultimately make money without trading it for time. Let’s talk to google about updating their definition! They currently have it as: “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”. PS. Really enjoyed your latest podcast with Josh Shipp. Much love from Sydney, Australia mate. -Ram (Designer, Author and CreativeLIVE instructor).

    Reply
  85. Music to my ears, great article Dale,

    Recently I have seen a massive increase in the articles posted by members on Linkedin. I feel like the quality of articles I used to be able to read there has significantly decreased and this is another reflection of ‘everybody is an entrepreneur now.

    Even though I run my own company, it has some success in its own right here in the UK and I am currently building an online learning solution for a particular industry that I am pretty hyped about as I know online learning is the future and more so than this, making a difference for me is everything…. I still wouldn’t consider myself an entrepreneur. I believe an entrepreneur is something people will call you, but you should never, ever call yourself it. In other words, it’s an observation from another on the way you live your life, your behaviours and actions. I prefer to just think I am a Jedi making some cool things happen haha.

    Anyway, great article and thanks here from the UK.

    Pete

    Reply
  86. Logbo Stephane R. says:

    Great post ! I’m freelancer and this article permit me o reconsider my work and my vision.
    And it permit me to correct many thing.

    Reply
  87. I am super excited I found this! What a brilliant idea and awesome tool.

    Reply
  88. When I network with people I don’t care about titles because that doesn’t reveal to me what the person does for a living. How are they improving the world as an entrepreneur or are they self-appointed hobbyists and freeloaders trying to make a quick buck. There is a balance. But I would like if you expanded on the gentlemen analogy as being a “real” entrepreneur is not solely a man’s job but can be taken into that direction. This post is a buzzy one for sure! Hot topic!

    Reply
  89. I get it… so many people are chasing the status of being “a business person” vs what’s really going on. I’d say that everyone has to learn. I say you do what you have to do, to do what you want to do. I believe more people need to be about build things that mater with profits as the testament to all humanity. We have people that talk about this but some of the largest businesses where built on everything. Work, work, work, invest, and care. Money is needed for sure but our world is built on great vision, action, love, a desire to make an impact.

    Reply
  90. Really great stuff Dale. It’s a game changer when revenue can be generated when you’re not in the room. I would love to interview for my new podcast to promote your new book.

    Reply
    • Great point Terry. I’m SLAMMED for podcasts already. 20 podcasts in two months…. Maybe this summer.

      Reply
  91. Great post! When the article first started I was thinking man… this will definitely step on toes, but after reading the complete article I’m definitely gonna share it. I agree 100%. I create music for television, film etc, I do it through a company, but I’m the only employee(I hire musicians though :-)). The business makes most of its money from royalties. I don’t know if I would consider myself a full blown entrepreneur like yourself, but I’m definitely on the way. Articles like this keep you focused. Thanks.

    Reply
  92. tinah kobe says:

    This was an awesome read! Really enjoyed this one

    Reply
  93. Such a good article! I think this also helped me (a freelancer) draw those lines more clearly. Although I would say I try to push past the traditional freelancer as I’ve been taught by my father to invest in things that can make money in your sleep but freelancing was the first obstacle for me now it’s using my flexible schedule to create a product that’s scalable (the 60 hour + weeks lol). I never want to settle as just being a merchant. I don’t want to be 40 years old and be working the hourly cap. Thanks for publishing such great content!

    Reply
    • Thanks Zech. It’s important to know those boundaries. Glad you liked the article.

      Reply
  94. Well said Dale. Starting up your own business doesn’t necessarily mean you are an entrepreneur. Once you are able to duplicate yourself and make money even while you are not physically working yourself, that is when your business is thriving giving you the freedom of an entrepreneur.

    Reply
    • Exactly.

      Reply
      • Someone says:

        “Once you are able to duplicate yourself and make money even while you are not physically working yourself.”

        So the main problem is that people are taught at school that you have to work to earn a living. And without money system this is exactly the way life works: If you want to eat and survive you have to show some kind of action at least. To “duplicate” yourself unfortunately often means the exploitation of others. At least there is a strong and undeniable tendency in this direction.

        Reply
        • It can definitely turn into exploitation at times, as I have seen. It doesn’t *have* to, but it can. However, thats where the true character of the entrepreneur will determine what kind of fruit they product. The success and well-being of your employees are a part of that fruit!

          Reply
  95. Dale, thanks for this! It was actually really affirming and encouraging to me because it reminded me that I don’t fall into the “fake” catagory. The reason I follow you, or anyone for that matter, is because I want to “surround” myself by good people who will make me better and encourage me to live a great story. Especially now, starting out, most days I’m on my own. So I start everyday with off with things like this.

    Reply

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