I love the word entrepreneur. It drips with pretention, snobbery and the absolute unknown coolness that we’ve come to associate with billionaire playboys and their young wives. But the definition is relatively simple: “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative risk.” A business can be defined as a “profit seeking concern or enterprise.” Simple, right?
Victor and I recently attended the Knoxville Maker Summit which brought together 300 “makers,” shop owners, and members of Etsy to designate Knoxville as a Maker City. During a discussion among our table, the topic of entrepreneurship was brought up, and how makers can become more legitimate. One of the table members assumed, I think, that I’m a hobbyist with a hubby earning 100k a year with absolutely no business saavy. I corrected him and we moved on, but this misunderstanding is common. If you make and sell a good or talent, artistic or not, you ARE an entrepreneur. Right?
The next day I sat down with 7 local entrepreneurs and shared my tips and tricks for maintaining sanity when you work for yourself and this topic surfaced again with the following conclusion: creative makers/business owners need to get their shit in order, develop business saavy, and start calling themselves entrepreneurs. And those who have started non-“creative” businesses need to recognize us.
How in the world do we get our shit in one sock? The first thing we can do is learn about business licenses (and when you need one), accounting or bookkeeping practices, logos and brandings, social media, marketing, and networking. That is if you plan on actually making a living on your handmade business. The Etsy reps reported that of those who sell on Etsy, those sales make up 15% of an individual’s household income. Good for them. My creative & counseling business make up 100% of my income. And I know others who strive to be completely self-employed.
So, here’s the straight dope to clear up all this nonsense: if you self your goods or services, you are an entrepreneur. You can also call yourself #maker, #creativepreneur, #whatever, but the fact remains that you are earning money off of something you create. You’re not creating art and shutting it away in a garage. You’re SELLING it for PROFIT in order to LIVE. So, stop apologizing or refusing to play in the big leagues. Legitimize yourself. Pay your taxes. Create contracts. Determine your ideal client. Market your shit. And stop, for the love of God, discounting your awesomeness as a small business owner. It takes guts, balls of steel, and a crazy awesome resolve to be an entrepreneur. OWN IT!