In February 2004, Facebook was founded. Over the next eleven years, Mark Zuckerburg has become the poster child for modern entrepreneurialism and innovation.
We all get the mental image of the modern international entrepreneur: sloppy pants, sloppy shoes, hoodie, slightly calm demeanour and with a bank account flush with a few hundred million dollars.
A few months ago, South Africa got a public taste of what a young modern successful South African entrepreneur looks like. Sibusiso Leope (more popularly known as DJ Sbu) generated a mix of positive and negative uproar among media, and would-be business owners when he allegedly promoted his new South African based energy drink, MoFaya on a faux cover of Forbes magazine.
The modern South African entrepreneur is similar to the American one, except that it seems our version wears a suit jacket, jeans and Converse sneakers.
Both images represent the idea of what an entrepreneur is about:
Taking risks in business and in life to develop their business to make a profit and become a success in life.
We love to see our entrepreneurs succeed. We love the lime light, the news channel interviews, the magazine articles, mounds of radio interviews and guest appearances. Being an entrepreneur is really the desired life so many of us crave and look toward achieving.
Does everyone even know what they’re talking about?
Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest jobs on the face of the Earth. Being an entrepreneur is working from six in the morning to twelve at night, every night, to make your business work.
It’s about losing money, a lot of money, regularly.
It’s about repeatedly falling, burning bridges and, letting friends, family and loved ones down.
It’s about having the courage to get up every day with no money in your bank account and working on a business that hasn’t made you money yet.
As a society, we have fallen in love with the idea of the successful entrepreneur. We have fallen in love with the glamour, the fame and the fortune that comes with it. Which is okay, really. A lot of people want to be famous and want to be celebrities, but not everyone wants to be nor should be entrepreneurs.
I think too many people want the pop culture brand title of being your own boss, rather than the reward of being your own boss.
Saying “I’m an entrepreneur” is a fashion statement; a lofty title that today gives the bearer some kind of class at the next party.
So many want to be entrepreneurs, but so few are ready to put in the mountains of work. Very few are ready to deal with the deep chasms of regret and doubt, and still push forward to the other side of success.
It’s for this reason that, although being an entrepreneur is a part of who I am, I have been thinking about referring to myself as a business man/human.
Although you may want to be successful, that doesn’t mean you have to be an entrepreneur. Remember that working hard and consistently, is what Mark Zuckerberg, DJ Sbu and Richard Branson all have in common. It’s not the simple fact that they have successful companies, but because they worked for the last ten years getting there.
Ask yourself the next time you call yourself an entrepreneur, “Do I have what it takes?”
Cover Image: Entrepreneurs are GREAT! | British High Commission, Ottawa