U.K. Founders: Don't Call Me 'Entrepreneur'
Entrepreneurship is hot at the moment. Rich founders are being profiled as eligible bachelors in the New York Times, young people increasingly claim they aspire to be entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial mindset is being hailed as the cure for many of the social ills that ail us. But apparently there's one group who are less keen on being associated with this oh-so-hip term--entrepreneurs themselves. Or at least one group of them.
The U.K. Financial Times recently reported on a survey by software company Sage that asked 1,200 U.K. business owners about their preferred nomenclature (free registration is required to view FT articles). Depending on your definition, everyone Sage spoke to would be in the running for the title entrepreneur, but it turns out nearly none of them wanted to be known that way.
"Just 4 percent said they saw themselves as entrepreneurs. Instead, 53 percent said they preferred the term 'business owner,' with 26 percent describing themselves as being self-employed," writes the FT's Hugo Greenhalgh. Lee Perkins, managing director of the small business division at Sage, offered this explanation:
[He] suggested the word "entrepreneur" had "become sullied over the past few years." He said: "They equate the word to someone who has multiple ideas, rather than the traits of someone who might build and run a robust business. Small business owners see that this reality TV culture has been established – but they don't associate with those people as role models or as the types of people they consider themselves to be. They just don't think [the word] refers to them."
The first question to be asked about these results, given their appearance in a British publication, is whether the same animosity to the term "entrepreneur" exists here in the States or whether in general business owners are happier with the term on this side of the pond.
And then secondly, if the answer to that first question is yes, what do you think is driving the hostility to the term "entrepreneur?" Is it simply that the concept has gotten too hot for its own good, suggesting a certain flashy self aggrandizement and will to glory that those with more sedate dreams of building a sustainable business over the long haul find unpleasant? Has "entrepreneurism" become too closely associated with young techies with claims that their businesses are all about some larger, socially benevolent vision?
What do you call yourself and why?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.