You are an entrepreneur

There have been a few articles telling you if you are or aren’t an entrepreneur based on whether you also have a full time job. Basically if you have a full-time job and your own venture is a side hustle then the authors have deemed you are not an entrepreneur. I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised that the people writing these articles do not have full-time jobs working for someone.

Title page from Horatio Alger's Luck and Pluck books, Second Series

Title page from Horatio Alger’s Luck and Pluck books, Second Series

I could explain how having two jobs, one that is not vaguely rewarding, is harder. I could argue that sometimes success is the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. I could argue that some self made, up by the bootstraps modern day Horatio Algers inherited big, successful businesses or their family and friends have bankrolled them and despite their assurances, life isn’t quite a meritocracy.

Those all sound like fun, but that’s not where I’m headed. The truth is a lot simpler than that. The truth is, you’re not an entrepreneur. You’re not a CEO or a CMO. You’re not a live streaming consultant or authentic story teller. You’re not a digital anthropologist. You’re not a secretary or an aid or a lawyer or salesman or event planner.

You’re not because you are not defined by your occupation. You are not your job. You are more than your education. Your name means more without the title than with it.

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick, 1892 - C. H. Simonds Co

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick, 1892
– C. H. Simonds Co

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, didn’t make much from his writing. He worked for 19 years as a customs official. But he kept on writing up to his death. Some of his writing was so unpopular few copies were printed, and a copy of one of his books was found in the NY Public Library 50 years later with pages in a state that showed it had never been read. His first book was enthusiastically received. He could have written more just like it in a formulaic fashion, but he didn’t. He made a choice that he preferred to write how he wanted to, and would earn money through a job to support his family.

Adolphe William Bouguereau, the French painter, painted Orestes Pursued by the Furies, in 1862. It’s an amazing, terrifying painting. Bouguereau said after it was harshly criticized “I soon found that the horrible, the

Orestes Pursued by the Furies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Orestes Pursued by the Furies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

frenzied, the heroic does not pay.” Most of his work after that painting is of baby angels, women and children and other pleasant, bright scenes. He decided to change what he painted to be better received by critics and the paying public.

That doesn’t mean he’s a sell out. That’s not where I’m going. He figured out how to do what he wanted and earn what he needed to. Was he any more or less of a painter because he was a commercial success but he didn’t continue with what he wanted to do originally? No. Just like you’re not a painter or not a painter based on whether you sell canvases. You’re a painter if you put paint on canvases. But that’s not all of who you are.


“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

― Chuck PalahniukFight Club

Don’t be limited by money. By how much you have or don’t have. By what education or friendships it’s bought for you. By what jobs you have taken to get money. Let go of the trap of being controlled by money. Don’t chase after more and better stuff to find your fulfillment.

If you have a passion, go for it. If it doesn’t support you, get a job that will support you and do both. If your passion eventually supports you, that’s wonderful. But it doesn’t have to. Don’t worry about what others tell you and what they expect. You’ll never be happy if you’re always running wherever people tell you to go.


developer, writer, speaker

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