The Rise of the Pseudo-Entrepreneur

With every advancement we make in society, a price must be paid. Some more so than others. Cars reduce the distance we have to travel by foot, leading to fewer people whom exercise. Fast food makes it cheap and convenient to get a meal, but at the expense of our health. Now, Social Media has made it possible for us to show the world how we want to be perceived by making claims with little, to no, evidence to support them.

Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook are accessible to anyone with a computer and a wifi connection. You can launch any image into the public sphere that you choose. We are surrounded by internet profiles created by people whose goal is to imitate and capitalize on the work of others. This is done in every industry, though one stands out above the rest – entrepreneurship.

If Stock Broker was the ideal job of the 80’s, Software Engineer the ideal job of the 90’s, then Entrepreneur is sure as hell the dream job of the 2000’s. It carries with it a sense of prestige, the illusion of autonomy. But in today’s world, EVERYONE is an entrepreneur. A 6-year-old selling lemonade outside of their house can even sport the title. It’s tossed around so much to where it doesn’t mean anything anymore, it’s too vague. Its meaning is left to be defined by the person who claims the term.

But here’s the problem, most people want the title, not the job itself. They’d rather be known as entrepreneurs rather than actually be one. Who can blame them? With shows like Shark Tank, The Profit and Planet of the Apps, it is now the job to have, but few are willing to put in the work to make it a reality.

I remember when my wife and I decided to start our Tea Truck, we were filled with delusional joy at the thought of working for ourselves. We were going to be “Entrepreneurs” we thought. The way we saw it, our days would be spent slinging tea, listening to good tunes, and making a living on our terms. Of course, we soon realized there was a lot we didn’t/couldn’t foresee. There was no distinction between our personal life and our work life, they became the same. Long hours, little pay, constant frustration over why we weren’t getting more business. So I totally understand why people fall in love with the romantic ideal of running your own business, but I also know that it comes at a price.

So what’s the alternative? Well, you can play the part of an entrepreneur instead. Craft your social media accounts with inspirational quotes, a picture of a Bentley in a showroom (you don’t make that known of course) and those pictures of that one trip you took to the Bahamas that you spread out over months to make it look like you live that lifestyle every day, and you are well on your way to looking like the real deal.

Now is this the case for everyone? Of course not. But it is the case for a lot of what we see on social media today. If their bio is a sales pitch, some inspirational cliche, or reveals any shred of an MLM, I’d think twice before taking that person seriously on how to, “Be your own boss.” If it’s not clear how you make your entrepreneurial living, it may be because you’re either acting or bending the truth.

If you want the appearance of a success, that’s fine. But if you want to be successful, you need to focus on what you want to be successful at. If social media was around when Marc Cuban, Richard Branson, or Jeff Bezos were up and comers I guarantee you that a perfectly crafted social media presence would not have been at the top of their priorities.  It’s important, but it doesn’t deserve 100% of your attention. Especially when you don’t have a business in the works. People like Bezos don’t even have a social media presence so what does that tell you?

Some of you are probably wondering, “What about fake it ’till you make it?” That only works if you have a plan in place to succeed. You can’t just look like a billionaire and wake up one day to 10 digits in your bank account. It doesn’t work like that.

If you want to be a writer, then focus on writing. If you want to be a professional musician, practice playing an instrument and owning your craft. If you want to be an entrepreneur then start your own business. It’s easy to get discouraged and focus on the things you can do quickly (i.e. post a Twitter update, revise your bio, or snap a new profile pic), rather than the grunt work that will ultimately lead you to success. Resist the temptation to just doing something, and instead focus on doing something that has value.

 

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