en·tre·pre·neur – what the heck is an entrepreneur?

You’ve made it to post number two. You’re at least slightly interested in being an entrepreneur, in living a lifestyle where you can be your own boss and do your own thing, and maybe you’re in your 20s and maybe you’re not, but you’re definitely interested.

Welcome. That’s step one.

So what the heck is an entrepreneur? According to the dictionary, “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so”.

Forbes tells me that an entrepreneur is not the same as someone who runs a business, but I knew that already. Entrepreneur.com tells me that an entrepreneur is a starter, a driver, and is responsible and accountable. So logically, if an entrepreneur is a starter but not necessarily the person who runs a business, does that make an entrepreneur someone who starts a business?

Sure? Maybe? Sounds right?

That’s what I think of when I think of an entrepreneur – someone who has an idea but also has the drive and ability to take the risk and do something with their idea. Having an idea literally does you no good if you never make the time to do something about it. Very little exists in this world without effort, and that includes your ideas.

So what if you have an idea, go through the process of making it happen… and then it fails? Are you still an entrepreneur? Yes, of course; you just need a little help. Maybe one of the piece – strategy, marketing, accounting, operations, whatever – just isn’t your strong suit. But that’s the point. It’s OKAY and NORMAL to be an entrepreneur and not be fantastic at every aspect. Entrepreneur is not synonymous for master of all tasks. You may start out as a solo-preneur, but there comes a point where if you grow enough, you’ll have to branch out.

But that, my friend, is a topic for a later date.

I feel like I haven’t covered this topic well enough, but I also feel like there isn’t much left to say. Are you an entrepreneur? That’s for you to decide. Is that a hat you want to wear? Can you say that you’re a starter, a driver, a go getter? Would you rather leave the risk behind and work for someone else (even if you’re fantastic at your day job)? Are you drooling with excitement over the idea of starting your own business and getting that idea out of your head and into the world?

You get to make the call on whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. It’s a mindset, not an achievement.

Before I go, I’ll tell you a story. I wanted to make greeting cards when I was a kid. I voiced that desire to my parents… and then basically did nothing. It’s not that I didn’t think about it; in fact, I made birthday cards for friends and was so proud of my little folded printer paper cards. My parents encouraged me in that – because it meant we didn’t have to buy $4 birthday cards for every kid I went to a party for – and also in hand making cards for family and friends for holidays, but not so much in the selling of the cards. There wasn’t really an easy way to do that at the time. Etsy wasn’t a thing, if eBay was then we sure as heck didn’t know how to use it, and my street isn’t busy enough to set up a stand or anything. I have no idea if craft fairs were popular in my city in the 90s and early 2000s, but that wasn’t anywhere on my radar. It makes sense then to say that when I outgrew those little folded paper cards, I didn’t graduate into anything. I just stopped making cards. I thought about them, and when we got a new computer, I loaded that program onto it just in case… but I didn’t open it in years.

Then one year while I was in college, I started it back up again. Not with folded printer paper and clip art images, mind you, but with things I bought at Hobby Lobby. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but I think maybe it was because I signed up for a Valentine’s Day or Christmas card swap with my pen pal group and didn’t want to buy the cheap cards from Target. I went back to my roots a little bit and made the cards… and that basically created a monster. If you give a mouse a cookie…

I still wasn’t selling them, though. That piece hadn’t come into play just yet, and when it finally did, I was a little too late in the game to make it without effort. I slapped some Christmas cards up on Etsy one year – took some pictures, wrote a simple description, gave a fair price – and waited. And waited. And the listings expired and there they sat, untouched, mostly unseen, and left me very confused as to why the, “if you make it, they will come” thing wasn’t working.

It took about a year before I tried again. By this point, I’d figured out some of the places I went wrong – crappy pictures, no tags, boring description – and went to work fixing those listings. I relisted the cards and they still didn’t sell, but they were at least seen. I’ve since let that listing expire again until I can really focus my efforts on card marketing. Alternatively, until it gets a little closer to Christmas.

So what’s to learn here? First of all, don’t take bad pictures. (We’ll talk about that, don’t you worry.) Second, just because a thing is cute/pretty/awesome/perfect, doesn’t mean it’ll sell. It has to be seen in order to sell, and getting seen is the first major challenge once you already have the thing. Third, if you make it, they will not come. If you make it well, market it, promote it, change your mindset, and give it time, then yeah, they will probably come.

Do you still want to be an entrepreneur? Are you already an entrepreneur? Stick around, let me know, and we’ll continue on this crazy journey together.

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