Entrepreneurs Are Not “Unemployed”
by Rachel Strella
22 Jan 2017
Last night, my husband and I decided to watch the movie, The Social Network. I’ve seen it before, but my husband had not, so of course, I was fine watching a movie about social media!
There’s a scene in the movie that I can’t get out of my head… and it had nothing to do with social media. Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), founder of Napster, converses with a Stanford student named Amy.
Amy discovers Sean isn’t a student and asks, “So, what do you do?”
He explains, “I’m an entrepreneur.”
She replies, “You’re unemployed.”
I hear this response often from people who work for another company – you know, those who are not entrepreneurs. Their reaction is only elevated when they find out I work from home.
I’m working in my pajamas and playing around on Facebook all day.
To them, what I do is not a real job. It’s a ‘little venture.’ In fact, this is how a former client once labeled my business. Needless to say, he’s a former client for a reason.
The irony is that I don’t feel what I do is accurately labeled as ‘entrepreneurship.’ By default, yes. But, for me, I run a business. A real business with real customers, real staff, real work and real money. It’s more than a little venture – it’s how I found my Purpose.
Talk with any business owner and most of them will agree: what we do is very real and it’s also very challenging. We are responsible for everything, including our own paycheck. We don’t just show up and get paid. Granted, I know that no job is secure anymore and I also know that many people work very hard for their paycheck. I’m only asking that business owners – a.k.a entrepreneurs – are respected as much as anyone who works for someone else.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and that’s OK. In fact, embracing entrepreneurship is sometimes a generational preference. Last year, Inc. Magazine drew insights from the annual Global Entrepreneurship Report to conclude that, “millennials seem to have a greater zest for the world of business ownership, while baby boomers seem to have more interest in a different route.”
Some who decide to pursue self-employment do so because they become disenchanted with companies that fail to live up to their core values. That’s what lead my husband to join the ranks of entrepreneurship. He spent 14 years in retail management for a Fortune 500 company. He believed in the company’s values of offering service and integrity to their customers. He realized that the company fell short of both, most the time. He gave his days, nights, weekends and holidays – for all those years – because he thought he was serving the greater good. The reality was that this company alienated their best customers… their employees.
I was disenchanted with every job I held after college. I knew that I must be my own boss because it was the only way I could have the authority to deliver the results that I had worked hard to produce. Like most people who strike it out on their own, it took me years to fully articulate my core values – my real ‘why.’ I realized that I wasn’t looking for just a job or even a career. Both seemed to indicate that we need to work for someone else to meet an end-goal: make a living – and, if we’re lucky enough to have a career, move up the ladder.
That’s a rat race. I am changing the game because I believe we create our own luck.
I had a conversation with my protégé, recently, who told me that she believes everyone needs to do two things in life: serve someone else (ex: waiting tables) and run their own business. She doesn’t care if we fail at them. The point is that the experience offers perspective.
I agree. And next time someone discovers that I’m an entrepreneur – or a business owner, as I call it – I still agree with my coach when he says, “People who don’t do it, can’t understand it.”