Just call me a ‘Preneur

I feel a rant coming on – bear with me please.  I don’t do it often.  Indulge me and perhaps by then end I can even find something positive to add. 

To start off – I really, really, really dislike the word ‘entrepreneur’.

entrepreneur“Why?” you might ask.  “Aren’t you one? “

The answer is probably yes by some peoples’ definition and then by others’ it would be no. 

There are few words in our business lexicon that are more misused, argued over, or modified than the word entrepreneur.

With all the talk about entrepreneurship these days, you would think our generation invented it.  We did not.

The word entrepreneur was first coined in the eighteenth century by Richard Cantillon and later expanded upon by Joseph Schumpeter in his writing the Theory of Economic Development  in 1911 .  It first appeared in Webster’s dictionary in 1852 and it’s definition is actually very simple according to today’s Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary –

en·tre·pre·neur  (noun)

Date: 1852  Etymology: French, from Old French, from entreprendre to undertake

: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise

In today’s business literature, we now find a plethora of _____preneurs.

    • Intrapreneurs – entrepreneurial people inside an  enterprise
    • Co-preneurs – husband and wife entrepreneurial teams
    • Solo-preneurs – the me- myself- and I crowd
    • Mommy-preneurs – does being a Mommy make your business different?
    • Home-based-preneurs – does it matter where your office is?
    • Serial-preneurs – these folks just can’t seem to get enough…
    • Green-preneurs – these are the save the planet, eco-friendly folks
    • Social Venture-prenuers – the make a difference folks
    • Micro-prenuers – smaller scale ventures
    • Macro-preneurs – get out of my way I’m gonna be big!

et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

And then we have my personal favorite – the snob-preneur – those entrepreneurs who look at other classes of -preneurs and confidently state that the other group really is not an entrepreneur at all.  They do not count.  They are just a life-style business, or a non-profit, or a franchise, or a …..

You can find snob-preneurs everywhere.  I’ve had this debate with some of the top authors of best selling books on entrepreneurship (and no, I am not naming names) as well as with entrepreneurial advocates across every level of the continuum.  It is like entrepreneurship is some exclusive club and only certain people have the right to belong.

But going back to our simple definition, an entrepreneur is a person: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.

It should not matter whether…

you own the company or work in it. 

you go it alone, partner with family, or grow your team to be a cast of thousands.

your office is in a corporate complex, your garage, your basement or your car.

your enterprise is structured to create wealth for shareholders, for yourself, to create greater value to society as a whole,  or any combination thereof.

Instead, let’s celebrate the “one” in the definition.  The person who see an opportunity, has the courage to pursue it despite the risks, and who through their passion and persistence creates something great – by their definition – not ours.

Perhaps, it’s time for a new word to encompass that.  Preferably one that is easier to spell. 

Got any ideas?

  Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

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2 Responses to Just call me a ‘Preneur

  1. I always wondered where that word came from. It doesn’t just roll of the tongue, does it? But to me ‘Preneur sounds just as bad. I think I might just stick with startup Founder.

  2. Marty –

    I agree – there has got to be a better word. It seems that everyone has to be a ____preneur these days.

    Thanks for your comment!

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