As a former franchisor of an original concept, I always assumed that all entrepreneurs were like me, deep thinkers finding new niches in the market place to exploit with their original solutions. Today, what seems to pass for “entrepreneurship” is much different. It’s like everyone who starts a business is considered an entrepreneur? Mostly, what I see is everyone copying everyone else. What’s worse many of these new business owners think themselves so damn clever as they do. Seriously, the situation is out-of-control, so pervasive it’s now the norm, almost as if it is considered acceptable – Why?
Well, I have a few thoughts on this, and before I start let me tell you what I think, let me clue you in on which perspective I come from and how I think. First, I am a white male, and think this whole ‘white privilege’ crap is nonsense, as I started my first business at 12-years old, so I am not sure how much of my success was privilege, but I know it was hard work. I also had to leave college to run my company. Thus, I guess I was luckily in that I hadn’t been mashed down by authority into a believing I needed an authority figure to answer every question I had. Nor was I brainwashed into believing I had to stay within the approved answer category of the status quo for every decision I made or every conclusion I came to while observing the world.
The Definition of Entrepreneur – Does It Include the Prerequisite of Novelty Anymore?
So, maybe I am different, or one of the last ‘real entrepreneurs’ or maybe I am wrong, and my definition of “Entrepreneurship” is wrong. No, I don’t think I am wrong, I think the definition has changed. Perhaps the term is ‘all-inclusive’ now, meaning anyone who owns a business regardless of size or type – so society has changed the definition to make everyone feel special – but before I give all you new business owners a certificate for participating – I am going to have my say in this article and give you some critique I believe you need and is well deserved. So here we go, ready?
Let me start with an example. Recently, I did business with a company that had built a second website to serve a new niche they’ve added to their business model. They ordered the proverbial GoDaddy website with 5-pages, email address, and WordPress blog. Then they went and looked up competing companies on Google, scraped the content, copied and pasted it to their own website. The website they copied it from made mistakes and it looked as if they’d copied it from someone else. Now it was a copy of a copy, and it barely made any sense – at least to anyone knowledgeable in the industry or any serious customer.
This isn’t good enough, yet we keep telling ourselves that here in the US we excel at innovation? Not from where I am standing. We tell our college students that they are geniuses, creative, innovative, and problem solvers – nonsense! We have endless programs to teach our innovators and entrepreneurs – classes, seminars, podcasts, webinars, eBooks, you name it. And, yet what are we producing – copiers, cut-and-pasters, imitators, and the like. Why? Is it because, students look stuff up on WikiPedia, or on Google, then re-write it and turn it in for class credit? They’ve been doing this all through school. Now they get out in the real world to run a business, and well, that’s all they know how to do. We are not teaching people to think anymore.
Why is this okay? Why do so many business owners call them entrepreneurs when they are little more than copiers and imitators? I thought the word entrepreneur was reserved for us innovators in business, original thinkers with ideas and new solutions worthy of the marketplace?