Why Are Us British So Afraid To Call Ourselves Entrepreneurs?

What a question. Umm, er…. how does it feel? Well, it’s hard to get a mortgage and the tax man is always on my back, but the word entrepreneur… hmm. It felt weird to say, ‘YES, I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR!’

This got me thinking. The teenagers that I used to work with when I was a youth worker were happy to call themselves entrepreneurs and CEO’s long before they had made a prototype or even spoken to a customer. Hell, most of them before they even knew what CEO stood for! So why was it so hard for me? Is it because I grew up before the US hip hop / reality star / everyone is a CEO mentality made its way over the pond? Granted, I don’t feel like I can stand up against other entrepreneurs, I have many failures under my belt and don’t really feel like I’ve had my greatest success yet, but in fairness… I am one!

I thought back. Something stuck in my mind a few years back when watching The Apprentice. Alan Sugar (was he Lord, surralan, or just Alan at that point? I don’t remember), said to one of the candidates that he shouldn’t call himself an entrepreneur. I did a bit of web searching and found the full quote:

“That’s the biggest wind-up going,” he explains. “An entrepreneur is not what you call yourself, it’s what someone calls you in recognition of what you’ve achieved. I call Richard Branson an entrepreneur. Rupert Murdoch called me one. Anybody who stands up and says: ‘I’m an entrepreneur’ needs shooting. You’ll drive people crazy.” - Alan Sugar

So what exactly are people of our nature supposed to call themselves? The dictionary defines entrepreneur as:

A person who organises and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Well, that my friends, is what I do. But I still don’t feel like England gets it. The states? Hell yea. As Julie Meyer (Chief Exec of Ariadne Capital) said at a panel event recently: "London has all of the talent and none of the ego".

Does that mean we aren’t giving ourselves the credit we deserve? I for one know that some people I mention the word entrepreneur to (i.e grandparents) think it’s code word for dreamer, wannabe Richard Bransons, bla bla. But… I am a dreamer, and I do want the success that Branson has! I’m an entrepreneur and I should be proud of it!

I guess what keep the British as beautifully bashful as we are is our reluctance to embrace success. A bittersweet motive. I took to Facebook to get a few views.

Henry Lukas, house manager of Sketch:

I think Brits aren’t a self promoting culture. If you ‘brag’ or pr yourself you’re seen as new money or vulgar almost. I don’t think being a dreamer/entrepreneur holds much social validity here yet. In LA someone will stand up and say ‘let’s do it!!’. In London they’ll say ‘we’re going to need a permit’.

Amir Amroussi, co-founder of Tacolisa:

‘The Brits seem to think you need to be Alan Sugar or Richard Branson to be considered an entrepreneur, whereas I see it as an individual in charge of an enterprise.’

Farouk Deen, Director of Cellar Door promotions:

‘British people of a generation group and above have a hard time calling themselves entrepreneurs due to the social pressures to conform to the archetypal 9 - 5 work day, own your own house and have 2.4 children false dream perpetuated from once one enters the education system.’

What do you think, do us Brits need to take more pride in calling ourselves entrepreneurs?

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