Dirty Words: “Startup” and “Entrepreneur”

by . November 11th, 2014

As an entrepreneur, I hate the word “entrepreneur.” I also hate the word “startup.”

I hate them for completely different reasons.

I detest the word startup because it makes people feel way more special than they really are. It makes people feel that just because their business is so young, they can forget that they haven’t made an ounce of profit within the year. It makes people feel that they can postpone all the legal processes until their business is no longer a startup.

Have you ever been to one of those shared office spaces? Where startups would gather and just share this false sense of doing everything to be everything when all there is is staying as nothing? Where they would boast on how they met an investor or launched a product. Those are the standards, not the exceptions.

“Startup” is a dirty word. It’s as if my wife gave birth and I’d throw the child off a cliff and everything would be ok.

Call it a business.

Treat it like an actual business. Don’t wait for your all-star cast to leave and knock you on the head for you to wake up, leaving you wondering why they did. All along it’s because you never treated the problems as problems. You were just there, being happy, believing that your smiles could wash everything away.

I am a romantic. Read my author tag. I make money to run around cities and roll down hills, and yet I find this behaviour really disturbing.

I don’t like the word “entrepreneur” because it’s intimidating, outdated, and makes a snooty members-only club. Funny that I write for a blog that tells people to identify as such. But that’s the English language for you.

It’s intimidating and has no obvious root word. When I was a kid, I thought entrepreneur was just another word for rich, snooty, posh people. Those people with the maroon silk robes and the dark wooden pipes. My mom and dad both had businesses. They were both out looking for opportunities. I never thought of them as entrepreneurs.

In ReWork, Jason Fried mentions the term “starter.” I love that. It’s free, exciting, and available. It sounds like a title that can be given to that kid selling lemonade, or that Youtuber who just decided to put ads on all their videos. It sounds like it means something. Like it has purpose.