I started my first own business at the age of 16, which is fairly close to the legal age of doing so. Since 2013, I’ve run a private limited company (or in swedish, Aktiebolag), and in many ways then, I could see myself as an entrepreneur. Not the world’s most extensive entrepreneur, but fairly more entrepreneurial than most of my friends. However, I feel increasingly reluctant to call myself an entrepreneur, even though I like running businesses and transforming ideas to viable futures. And there’s good reason behind this, mainly including the image that is connected to entrepreneurship.

I increasingly often from my friends hear the words ”I hate entrepreneurship”. And by the common meaning of it, I tend to agree with them. The word ”entrepreneurship”, together with ”innovation”, are word that are trending now – but they form a gated community. They come with a vocabulary that is easily noticed, you ”network” instead of make friends, you talk about ”venture capital”, ”business angels”, and a whole bunch of words that doesn’t applies to any other part of the world. And the people are predictably similar to each other in appearance. A friend of mine (who comes from the northern town of Timrå, and for the record also has his own business) put it straight when seeing the profile picture of an entrepreneurship student friend of mine on Facebook: ”He’s standing in sunglasses and backslick on the sailing boat of his father, he would get punched in the face as soon as he entered Timrå Municipality.” The verdict was harsh.

And it’s not only about appearance, I think it all comes down to whether you start a business purely for the money, or if you are genuinely interested in whatever you do within the business. The fact that half of the people I knew at the first lecture within this course quit the course after that lecture probably says the lot. It was a disaster. Confirming virtually all the stereotypes and prejudices related to entrepreneurship. I myself was on the edge of quitting as well, despite my interest in whatever could be described as entrepreneurship. I understand that the lecture of Joakim (if I remember his name correctly) was thought of as an inspirational lecture, but it worked in the diametrically opposite way. I’ve never felt so much as a part of an american presidential election, or, sometimes, a sect. When talking about ”making one million dollar by the age of 25”, or was it 10 or 100 million, I felt really, really out-of-place.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with making money, but the culture of ”entrepreneurship” needs to be more inclusive. Not only open to people with the talks and appearance of the far right-wing, talking in swedish political terms. Open to the people, like me, who would see creating businesses as a way of doing things you like to do, rather than just making money, people who see money as a tool to make good rather than the ultimate achievement. Producing a gated entrepreneurship community where these people are excluded is a drawback for society as a whole.

Erik

PS. While this entry focused more on the core looking and aura of the people involved in entrepreneurship, there is a more serious side to the problem as well, as highlighted by a Techcrunch article that recently drew my attention. Take a moment to read it through, here: Startups, A Rich Man’s Game

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8 Thoughts on “On why I feel reluctant to call myself an entrepreneur

  1. serdar.temiz serdar.temiz on February 15, 2015 at 3:48 am said:

    Hi, thank you very much for the feedback. One of the reasons student left, which was major reason, clashes in the course. We would have actually triple number of students, from EIT ICT Labs if we dd not have clashes. Joakim, as he stated, he wants to help to entrepreneurs but in his personal life he made this money. It was just a small note if you remember how he did things when everybody said him he could not and how he wanted to prove himself to his grandfather. He mentioned a lot how he believes in people who wants to be an entrepreneur. On the other hand, I hear what you say. We, lecturers, starting from first lecture, talked a lot about importance of finding and solving a problem. Entrepreneurship is to solve a problem . Unfortunately, if you can not fix cash flow when you solve the problem, then you may not be able to solve the problem. It is not easy to get funding from grants etc. In your case, it is better to act as a social ent. and try to solve problem while creating a sustainably business that covers the cost to be able to continue to solve the problem. I would suggest you to send your feedback to Joakim also. Thank you.

  2. Avatar Erik A, ME2062 on February 15, 2015 at 6:52 am said:

    Thanks for the comment, Serdar, but I don’t think you really get my point, unfortunately. The problem is on a higher level than where to get funds from, etc. (I’m not specifically interested in purely social entrepreneurship, by the way, I’m just glad that I’m able to do something I like and earn enough to e g be able to buy organic products or give some pennys to a beggar.) If people get scared away by the sheer appearance of the word “entrepreneurship”, long before even thinking of business models and the like, we, the society as a whole, misses a lot of great opportunities.

    It’s not in particular criticism on this course either, the problem is more spread than that. Entrepreneurship as of today, is not for everyone. In Joakim’s case, it was not necessarily the story itself, but a lot of different things that made me (and at least a number of fellow other students) feel uncomfortable. From his looks and appearence, to his style of speech, to how he blatantly used his lecture to promote his own business idea and forcing us to sign up for something. It’s difficult to avoid getting to personal about things here, and I don’t want to critizice Joakim as a person, but that lecture fitted very well into the stereotypes of entrepreneurship, which we need to tear down, not emphasize.

    I may be adding contacts on my Linkedin account, from time to time, but I know I definitely don’t want to be percieved as a “networking” person. It’s too superficial, too shallow. Too much a gated community.

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