Because I have been in business for myself during much of my adult life, people occasionally call me an entrepreneur. They mean it for a compliment, so I try to hide the fact that I consider the term an insult.
I can see why they might apply the term to me. I’m rarely at my best in a 9 to 5 job, and I maintain a sole proprietorship called Outlaw Communications that I occasionally remember to declare my GST on. Once or twice, I’ve even created jobs by sub-contracting.
Still, there is a fundamental difference between an entrepreneur and me. An entrepreneur is someone who wants to accumulate money or power, a whole-hearted participant in the game of capitalism set on building their own empire – if only so they can take early retirement. But I’m none of those things.
By contrast, my attitude is that of a bourgeois intellectual. Although I see no nobility in poverty, and don’t object to having a good year for income, I am not especially concerned with accumulating money. My ambition in those directions extends only so far as being comfortable, and having a good chance to be as comfortable as I am now in the future.
As for power over people, while I mildly prefer it to them having power over me, who needs the responsibility? I am far more interested, too, in interesting work now than in early retirement – especially since, if I worked hard enough to take early retirement, I probably would forget how to enjoy it anyway.
Besides, having survived on the outer edge of academia for years, I am full of anti-capitalist sentiment. Accumulating privilege seems a ridiculously trivial way to spend my time when there are so many books, films, songs, and pieces of art to appreciate – to say nothing of exercise, conversation, and food. Why make the effort, especially when it is so soon forgotten? Andrew Carnegie and John Paul Getty may have been known in their times, but their names are only half-familiar at best today.
Consequently, I have a hard time understanding in my heart of hearts why a grown adult would be pleased to be called an entrepreneur, or imagine that I would be. Taking on that role seems to involve an obsession with the banal, and a deliberate decision to ignore most of what makes life worth living while getting nothing worthwhile in return.
Frankly, the idea of being an entrepreneur bores me. As for being called one, why would I pleased that someone considered me so shallow?
This attitude, no doubt, explains why I will never be rich. But, please, don’t strain my manners by calling me an entrepreneur. I aspire to better things than that.