What being an entrepreneur means to me

Credit: Jeffrey Friedl

Credit: Jeffrey Friedl

About 18 months ago, I quit my research career and began my career as an entrepreneur.

Back then, I was a bit naive. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. I only knew that I wanted something different, and needed the time to figure it out.

I remember logging into my LinkedIn account to commemorate the career change. I quickly tapped the backspace key to remove the title ‘Senior Research Engineer’. Then I sat silent for a while, before slowly typing ‘Entrepreneur’.

I stared at the word ‘Entrepreneur’, and thought “what the heck does that mean?

I couldn’t really answer the question. I just felt like the right word to use.

Still, it sounded too serious, and I felt weird about it, so I tacked a bit more onto my title: ‘Entrepreneur (a.k.a. unemployed, but hopeful, bum)’.

That seemed passable. I opened up more tabs in my browser and proceeded to change my job title in all other social networks.

Since then, I’ve thought a great deal about what it means to be an entrepreneur.

And I think I have figured it out.

To me, being an entrepreneur means that I am making it my job to create value in the world.

The first part to understand is the “creating value” aspect of this.

It has nothing to do with:

  • my development skills;
  • who I am, or who I know;
  • whether I’m am employed or unemployed;
  • how much money I make;
  • whether I am working alone, inside a team, managing a team, or managing an organization.

All that matters is the act of creating some thing of value for the world.

Note that I mentioned it doesn’t matter how much money an entrepreneur makes. There are things of value that should be created, but are not particularly profitable.

However, it is fortunate for the entrepreneur that things of value can be usually be monetized in some shape or form. After all, money exists to be exchanged for things of value, right?

Being a successful entrepreneur can be quite lucrative. In fact, it can be lucrative enough that it distracts people. People see the money, power, and/or fame, and then aspire to be in this position.

A true entrepreneur is concerned with, and often obsessed with, the process of creating some thing of value. Money isn’t the goal. Money is the byproduct. It turns out to be a great byproduct because it can be reinvested to create more things of value.

The second part of this is that entrepreneurs create value “in the world”.

What good is a creation that never sees the light of day? It is the entrepreneur’s version of the proverbial tree in the woods.

Entrepreneurship is more than creation; it implies some form of accessibility or distribution.

An entrepreneur creates this thing of value, but doesn’t stop there. An entrepreneur ensures that this thing touches the world.

This is the value of the entrepreneur. This thing would not exist if the entrepreneur wasn’t there to create it. And because this thing has value to some people in the world, the entrepreneur has made the world a better place.

So there is it: my tentative definition of an entrepreneur, which at this point, seems to make perfect sense to me.

It makes me sure of myself, and clear about what I am doing.

I am an entrepreneur. I want to create a thing of value. And I want to see it touch the world.

P.S. This is lucky post number #7 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye

Check out my current project Soulmix, your daily mix of food for the soul. Request an invite now for free early access to the private beta!

7 thoughts on “What being an entrepreneur means to me

  1. Surviving the startup roller coaster | Alex Shye

  2. Why entrepreneurs should blog | Alex Shye

  3. Dreamers, talkers, writers, and doers | Alex Shye

  4. Creating value from zero | Alex Shye

  5. Why I write | Alex Shye

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