The entrepreneur illusion

I have a challenge for you. Open your phone tap on the LinkedIn app, and click on the top 5 suggested people. I would be incredibly amazed if one of them wasn’t promoting their “entrepreneurship.” Don’t get me wrong I see incredible things coming from young entrepreneurs, however, the majority of people you’re going to find calling themselves “entreprenuers” are a very interesting breed. 

The entrepreneur phase really started a few years ago with the introduction and main line growth of figures like Gary Vaynerchuk who promote a mindset of doing what you love no matter the cost. A common mantra he often promotes is not staying in a job that you hate just because it pays well, and to do what you love while still managing to be fiscally responsible, even if it means you take less trips or not buy a new car or the most expensive watch.

This kind of mentality was incredibly appealing to me, because I’ve always wanted to be in control of what I made. I couldn’t see myself working a nine to five doing menial jobs that can be done be a semi-sophisticated robot. And while many people find immense amounts of satisfaction from these types of positions, I personally don’t. So I decided to buy a heat press, make my own apparel, take it to conferences, and start trying to build a business. I even took over a friend of mine’s sportswear/fitness company. I was so enamored by the idea of cutting my own paycheck whenever I wanted that I lost sight of the core identity of what entrepreneurship is about. 

Let’s go back to those LinkedIn profiles that I started this with. Most people claim that they are entrepreneur as a sort of badge of honor. They say I’m an entrepreneur, except they’re running a company that has done nothing but they still get to claim themselves as CEO, and to them that’s what matters. Entrepreneurship is becoming a status symbol as opposed to what it’s really meant to be. Entrepreneurship at its core is about taking something that you love and growing it into something that’s recognizable. It has those elements of autonomy because it’s necessary to work. Most large companies are never going to take a chance on a new idea that may or may not pan out.

Thus, entrepreneurship is born. Now, I highly doubt the budding entrepreneur loves the idea of not having a stable job and likely relying on a platform or website that hopefully will bring them in customers. It’s far more comfortable to have a job that you know can consistently cut you a paycheck even if it’s not what brings you great satisfaction. However, the key that makes entrepreneurs special is their desire to push past all doubts and insecurities in search of a higher pursuit. This doesn’t mean of course that they’re ignoring them, you shouldn’t quit your job if you’re thousands of dollars in debt just because you have a passion. What it is instead is an overwhelming urge to create that makes all doubts irrelevant. 

The passion that people have for creating something from their brain, arriving at the point where they can place into someone’s hands is what makes a true entrepreneur. That’s why the majority of people you’ll see on LinkedIn touting themselves as Entrepreneurs/CEOs of their own company are empty.  To them, being an entrepreneur is important because it allows them to be called CEO; to see heads of major companies like Disney or Netflix under the “people with the same title as you” tab on LinkedIn. But to a real entrepreneur, those accolades don’t matter. Satisfaction comes from the process, not the title.

This is something I’ve had to reconcile with myself recently. My search to build something, anything, led me to a place where I was running things I didn’t enjoy. Technically, I was still in entrepreneur because I was running something myself, but self employed would likely be a better term. And there’s nothing wrong with being self employed, but it lacks the drive and intensity that entrepreneurship has. 

When this realization hit me like a load of bricks it led me to have an internal struggle, questioning everything that I had been doing and whether or not it was for the right purposes. And I think that internal quest led me to  the previously mentioned statement. if I wanted to call myself an entrepreneur, I couldn’t just be building anything. I had to be building what I was passionate about. That is what separates real entrepreneurs, people who are disrupting industries and building major companies, from Jim Bob on LinkedIn or Facebook who claims he’s CEO of nothing.

So if you want to start something, grow it, and see it flourish under your own hands, you will and can be successful if you have a fire in your belly to pursue that dream as hard as you possibly can. That’s the key ingredient that most people are missing in entrepreneurship. 


"Everyone’s calling themself an entrepreneur, but what does that mean when you go beyond the title?"

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