Let’s take a moment to dissect the word entrepreneur which seems to have become the hot buzzword over the recent few years. What exactly does it mean when people define themselves as entrepreneurs? Traditionally (and according to Wikipedia), an entrepreneur is defined as “a person who starts, organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. Rather than working as an employee, an entrepreneur runs a small business and assumes all the risk and reward of a given business venture, idea, or good or service offered for sale.”
The key part of that definition is the “rather than working as an employee” part which implies it’s either one or the other. If you aren’t building your own business full time, then traditionally you were not able to call yourself an entrepreneur. This definition has changed now and you see many people both working as an employee and starting businesses that require “considerable initiative and risk”. From freelance photoshopping to flipping items on ebay everyone seems like they are getting their side hustle on in some way, shape or form. So why has this definition changed over the years? The short answer: technology.
To get a second opinion on the topic I turn to seasoned entrepreneur Chris Ducker who actually went about it the old school way by picking one or the other. After dropping out of college to work as a telemarketer in the traditional publishing space in the UK, Ducker landed himself a job working for an extremely successful, multi-million dollar infomercial entrepreneur based out of Miami, Florida. The job was great but the boss was an absolute nightmare of a micromanager. After just a few weeks Ducker had enough and on his way back to Hong Kong he drafted up his resignation letter at 37,000 feet and hit send as soon as he landed. His next step was starting his own business.
Entrepreneurship has been around forever
The first usage of the work entrepreneur dates back to the 18th century. Back then and up until about 15 years ago, you did in fact have to choose to either work as an employee (for someone else) or on your own (as an entrepreneur). Building a business is extremely difficult and back then it required a full 100% dedication of time and resources to even have a chance of success.
“Nowadays, the entry barrier to become ‘an entrepreneur’ has never been as low as it is today with the Internet being the way it is. When you do business online, you’re open 365 days a year. You don’t close your retail doors at all. That’s sexy. That’s attractive. That’s what people are after, the fact that they can ultimately make money as they sleep,” says Ducker.
The result of the low barrier to entry in our digital economy is a flood of “wantrepreneurs” that have entered the scene generating a lot of confusion (and scams) in the process. With the power of the Internet available at our fingertips these days, it’s is easy to hack together a website selling a shoddy product and actually turn a quick profit with zero regard for customer retention. The only problem is that is not really entrepreneurship. As we discussed before the real secret to entrepreneurship is serving and doing it for the long term.
Read more: Forbes