Sunday, July 25, 2010

Am I an Entrepreneur?

I'm having a bit of trouble recently understanding what I'm doing.

I'm not working for anyone else right now. No steady paycheck (no real paycheck's at all, yet). But I'm not unemployed. More and more I'm hearing the word entrepreneur. Of course, I've known the word, but never though it'd be applied to me. I've though about starting a business, other organizing endeavors, etc., but never wanted to be an entrepreneur.

I think, as I'm coming to understand it, there's nothing inherently that I have against entrepreneurialism. I think this is just another instance where I am deeply frustrated by the game we're playing.

Dictionary definitions of "entrepreneur" are usually similar to: One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. But the dictionary definition isn't really what I'm referring to here. It's rather the concept of what an entrepreneur is in my mind. For me, the concept of entrepreneur smacks too strongly of capitalism for me to be completely comfortable with it. It sounds like someone trying to make a buck. It sounds like the infinite creativity of humans directed toward financial gain.

Being around all of the independent workers, free agents, and self-proclaimed entrepreneurs that I have been recently, I'm realizing that they don't all share my feelings about the concept. I'm learning that entrepreneurialism is multifaceted, complicated (as most things are). According to a video by Grasshopper, which Cameron Herold showed in a TED talk, "entrepreneur" is just a relatively new word for "thinker", "doer", and "innovator". In a presentation that he gave at the European Creative Cities Conference, Blake Jenelle says that, to him, entrepreneurialism is "The art of building something that has never existed before.

I like Blake's definition, but that's not what an entrepreneur is to me. For me, an entrepreneur is someone who devises a way to make money off of something, whether it existed before or not. And maybe that's why I like the concept of missioneur, so far, which Jenelle has been evangelizing lately. For me, the appeal of missioneurialism is not any affinity for entrepreneurship, but instead because I see it as a tool with which to move money from the center. As such, I do not see it as entrepreneurship, though.It's entrepreneurialism as much as grassroots community organizing or non-profit work. By definition, each of those activities may be entrepreneurial, but they are not considered in the same vein.

To do: Write (and post) my mission. This is what will guide me, more than labels of entrepreneur or missioneur.

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