One of my pet peeves (and I have many) is the trend to take the word entrepreneur and turn it into another “cool” word like Mompreneur or Jobpreneur. It bothers me because it really takes away from the meaning behind what an entrepreneur is. It has now become synonymous with an independent contractor or a work–for-hire type person. Someone who’s “job” is not connected to any particular business but is self-employed. Yes, self-employed, the IRS term for “you have to pay your own taxes.”
Is that what an entrepreneur really is? A taxpayer of a different kind? A self-employed person who minimally contributes to the greater economic society? I think that is what the term has become. I personally like the term business owner. A business grows, it does not stay stagnant. It changes with the economy and technology. It increases the GDP of the country and it helps with job growth and benefits the community as a whole. A business owner understands this and seeks not only to grow the business, but the community surrounding it as well.
What type of impact do you want to have?
I was recently interviewed on a radio show and one of the hosts asked me if he should open up a hair salon. He is a hairdresser and people told him he should have his own shop. I know many hairdressers that rent booths or work out of their homes and they are happy doing just that. They make their own hours and take the type of clients that they want. They are self-employed. Not business owners.
I asked the question, “is that really what you want to do?” If the answer is yes, then you should not open a shop. If the answer is no, then before you open that shop you need to know and understand that the responsibility is not just about you and what money you make, it is about the surrounding community and the responsibility of owning a business.
What you do affects others!
As a business owner you are now contributing to the local economy in a way that you had not done before. By signing a commercial lease, you are now contributing to the local property taxes and supporting schools and roads in the area. You are now a part of the community where your business is located. The local politicians answer to you as well as the residents in the area. You should be a voice in the community.
As a business owner, you are now responsible for others' livelihoods. It does not matter if you have employees in the traditional sense. You may have independent contractors that work with you. Your business helps to support them. You may also choose to have interns, your training helps get them employment elsewhere. You may purchase goods from other businesses which in turn helps them to survive.
As a business owner, you are innovative. You are thinking about new ways of doing things and you are making changes. You are staying ahead of the curve and you are thoughtful about how you deal with your customers. You do not have to be the creator of the latest App to be an innovator. Maybe, as a restaurant you donate food to the homeless shelter in your area. How many other businesses do that? Maybe, you help support a local school by providing books for their library? How many other businesses do that?
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.