In my experience, there are two distinct kinds of entrepreneurs. There are entrepreneurs that fit the classical definition and then there are Entrepreneurs. Those in the latter category take financial risks by creating businesses that attempt to disrupt the status quo of existing markets.
Why the distinction?
While I accept the broad definition, I don’t quite understand why those folks wouldn’t just say they’re business owners or self-employed and call it a day. Throwing around a word like “entrepreneur” strikes me as self-aggrandizing. If you’re not at least attempting to disrupt the status quo, I’d lay off the fancy labels and get back to work.
If, on the other hand, you aspire to become the latter kind – a true Entrepreneur who is courageous enough to challenge the status quo and take some real risks that might result in significant rewards – let’s talk.
If you boil it down, true entrepreneurship is essentially the business version of the Socratic Method. Named for the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, it’s a method of questioning common wisdom or beliefs to determine their validity or to seek a better solution to a problem.
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The Socratic Method is also synonymous with critical thinking, the essence of the scientific method, and the basis for how court cases are argued. In other words, it’s fundamental to modern civilization. Without it, society would digress thousands of years. And without it, there would also be no Entrepreneurs.
True entrepreneurs question things. They question common dogma, how things are done, how people behave, and even their own closely held beliefs. The reason they do that is simple. That’s how you change things. That’s how you disrupt the status quo. Otherwise, you’re pretty much just following the crowd.
That’s what’s missing from today’s entrepreneurial movement. Nobody’s questioning anything. The cultural conformity is off the charts.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the least bit surprised by that. Since the beginning of civilization, the overwhelming majority of people have been followers of the status quo.
What does surprise me – and distinguish today’s entrepreneurial craze – is how many of those followers have somehow managed to delude themselves into thinking they’re leaders. They’re certainly not Entrepreneurs. Most aren’t even entrepreneurs. They’re wantrepreneurs. Amateurs. Fakes. Phonies. Posers.
The problem is the massive amount of self-serving groupthink flooding the online world with illogical nonsense that would make Socrates and Plato turn in their graves. What I’m referring to is all the fads and myths that have everyone marching to the same drumbeat like a horde of social-media drones.
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What’s remarkable is that none of those people are questioning whether the path they’re following makes a bit of sense. If they did, they would ask themselves some reasonable questions:
- Does personal branding really matter? How will I know that it’s actually having a material effect on my career or my business? What’s the metric?
- Have those who write the blogs and books I read actually accomplished something more than just generating feel-good fluff to get me to click or buy?
- Are virtual personas accurate reflections of people’s real accomplishments or overinflated facades?
- Do inspirational quotes and speeches have any lasting effect on my behavior, or are they just superficial missives that feel good for a moment? Besides, shouldn’t my work inspire me?