Since primary school, I spent most of my weekends washing cars and doing odd jobs for the people who lived near my house. I tried to earn money any way I could. Not for any particular reason, just so I could buy PlayStation games and go to the cinema with my friends. Pretty normal stuff.
I continued along this path throughout my teenage years. I bought stationary in bulk and sold them to my fellow students for a huge mark up. It wasn't long before the word "entrepreneur" started to crop up. Family and teachers started describing me as "entrepreneurial". They said it in a way that made me feel proud and motivated to keep going. I thought I was going to be the next Richard Branson, and I was pretty happy about that.
Now, at the age of 27, I've had both failure and success in business. I've worked hard, and I'm lucky enough now to be in a position where I run a profitable business. I also teach other businesses how to be more successful in their field.
But throughout all my time as a business owner, one thing has never changed. I have never claimed to be an ENTREPRENEUR.
I've started to hate the word with a passion.
Ever since the early days of Sir Alan Sugar's, The Apprentice, flashy young business school graduates and highflying estate agents would describe themselves as entrepreneurs.
I don't have a problem with the lifestyle choice. I simply have a problem with the word, and I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. In fact, I believe that my own success is partly due to avoiding the word entirely.
Of course, I could call myself an entrepreneur, based on my past experiences and achievements, but why would I want to?
Stop calling yourself an entrepreneur
I can understand why more young people are starting their own business. With the lack of jobs available and the technology we have at our disposal, it's become more appealing to ignore a traditional 9-5 way of life. This is why becoming an entrepreneur is so desirable.
However, labelling yourself as an entrepreneur should be based on your past achievements, not on the decision to run your own business.
I would even argue that if you do label yourself as an entrepreneur, without the credentials, you're putting yourself at a real disadvantage. The word entrepreneur has lost it's meaning. It's weight. It's power. Everyone is an entrepreneur, so if you are too, how is that going to impress?
Making a good first impression
As the saying goes, "you only have one chance to make a good first impression."
So, why would you choose to waste that opportunity, simply because of your ego? Because, let's face it, that's what it comes down to - your ego. In most cases saying you're an entrepreneur is a pretentious way of saying you run your own business.
If you continue to label yourself this way, I guarantee you're going to have a difficult time getting people to take you seriously - myself included.
What you can do instead
As a business owner, the thing I value the most is relationships - connecting with interesting, passionate people with their own unique story to tell.
This is how I've forged long-lasting, profitable business relationships. So, don't tell people you're an entrepreneur, instead show them who you are, your passion, excitement and work ethic. Show them why they should work with you.
In Michael Port's New York Times best seller, "Book Yourself Solid", he talks about your "who and do what statement". Your "who and do what statement" lets others know exactly who you help and what you can help them do.
We've all heard of the elevator pitch before, but in my opinion Michael Port's explanation is the most useful.
The fact that you call yourself an entrepreneur proves that you are thinking about yourself, rather than your potential clients and what you can offer them. Using this strategy reverses this effect, making you look outwardly rather than in. For example I could say, 'Hi, I'm Martin and I'm an entrepreneur.' Or I could say, 'Hi, I'm Martin, I help young people find jobs with my unique job finder app.'
Which one do you think has more impact?
Each and every one of you has something unique to offer the world, so don't hide behind the word entrepreneur. Step out and show people who you are, not who you'd like to be.