Somehow, in recent years, the word entrepreneur has become so vague that its lost it’s meaning.

And I’m not just pointing fingers. I’m guilty as well. I continually make the mistake of referring to people as entrepreneurs who just aren’t…

Growing up, I was raised with the mentality of an entrepreneur. Thanks to my Dad. He wouldn’t let me get a job at 7-Eleven. He said that if I wanted to make money I had to start businesses. So from elementary school forward, that’s what I did.

I sold soda cans. I bought them at the grocery store and sold them individually for way more money. Was it legal? Probably not. But was I only like 10 years old? Yeah… so I wasn’t too worried about a run in with the authorities for selling soda.

I’ll skip some of the ventures in between but in high school, I started selling candy. But this time was different. Instead of just buying and selling candy, I did more. I created a candy operation. A freaking network of candy hustle. It sounds funny and that’s because it is. 🤣

I rented lockers to stash my sweet product, had upperclassmen making Costco runs to bring me my shipments each week and had other students selling for me and splitting the proceeds. This time I had a system.

What do you think; was I an entrepreneur?

4 Ways To Not Spell Entrepreneur

Too often, people confuse entrepreneur-like terms with the term itself. Being an entrepreneur often entails so much more. There are all sort of words that don’t mean entrepreneur but before that, let’s define the term.

I promised one of my partners at Chiedo Marketing, Evan, that I’d give him credit. So I’m doing it. This is mostly his definition except with a few tweaks. Here it is.

Entrepreneur – A person who persistently seeks opportunities and risks their own time or money to creatively build something greater than themselves

Agree or disagree on the definition in the comments below… I love the feedback and I’m curious to hear what other people think. But here are a few words that don’t mean entrepreneur.

  1. Businessman (or businesswoman)
  2. CEO
  3. Self-Employed
  4. Ambitious

Nothing’s “wrong” with those words per se. But do they mean entrepreneur? No.

Why are Those Words Incomplete?

When I started my soda business, I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I was just ambitious and business-minded. But it was just me selling my effort for money. Kudos to me for creativity but I wasn’t an entrepreneur. Some of the mentalities of an entrepreneur were starting to form but I wasn’t there yet.

In High School, I did things differently. I kept my eyes open for opportunities and when I found one I went all in. My candy operation was way greater that myself. I had systems in place, was risking my money by buying the candy upfront and trusting my “employees” to sell my goods and return with their share of the proceeds. I got pretty creative. Renting lockers from other students was the game changer I needed to have a central location to do business without running out of supply.

The problem with the words I listed is that they describe qualities or titles that someone who is an entrepreneur could hold without fully embodying the term.

A businessman is someone who is good with business. That’s all. A CEO is someone who runs a company. That’s it. Running a company doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. Neither do business skills.

Someone who’s self-employed works for themselves but that doesn’t make them an entrepreneur, it just means they don’t get paid vacation or benefits… I’m being cheeky with that last remark. Lol! But you get the point.

Lastly, someone can be ambitious but that doesn’t make them an entrepreneur, it just means they’re opportunists. And I mean that in the nicest way.

Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind. It’s not forever. Entrepreneurs can cease to be entrepreneurs the moment they stop seeking new opportunities and taking risks. They can cease to be entrepreneurs the moment they stop building something greater than themselves.

Being an entrepreneur requires more than just some of the qualities of entrepreneurship. It requires them all.

Anything Else?

We discussed this topic on Episode 1 of the FounderBy30 show, with Dawn Womack and Ray Brown, so be sure to check that out.

Lastly, I want to leave you with an inspiring quote. Courtesy of Dawn Womack but originating from Milton Berle.

If an opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

To you all you entrepreneurs out there, dream on!