What is an entrepreneur?

“I am an entrepreneur” is a very complicated phrase to me. When I did an ironman and had a full time job in NYC that was entrepreneur-ish. When I pitched my 9-5 company to fund a non-profit that was entrepreneur-ish. Frankly, everyone can start a company and get an llc. What I would want to know is what have you done that proves you are not like everyone that just wants to start a business. Why would someone want to buy from you personally? That is the big picture idea that often gets overlooked as an entrepreneur.

Here are 3 ways you can define entrepreneurs.

The “Wannabepreneur”

You have a “great” idea and may want to keep it a secret. When you talk to mentors or network you are really close to taking the leap but need 100% assurance that it will work out. You talk a lot about ideas but have not yet invested or got your rookie mistakes out of the way. You are still hyper competitive from your days in corporate and are learning how to collaborate effectively to start your own business.

The “Solopreneur”

A solopreneur is exactly as it sounds. This is where many entrepreneurs start out and many can thrive with new technology and some marketing wizardry. To build an online presence you might need to design your website, build your brand, market yourself, design your courses, and reach out to clients for business. You may be building a business from scratch or building a portfolio of your work experience to work as a freelancer. The big draw here is that you can work from anywhere and theoretically grow your business online once you have a system set up to generate leads. A really big deal is knowing where to go when you get stuck. Here are some resources I go to regularly.

fivver.com-For specific or odd jobs like video editing.
clarity.fm-Speak with a mentor at a costly price.
upwork.com-You might hire a copywriter or website designer here for ongoing work.
digitalmarketer.com-They have marketing certifications and really up to date marketing info.
click funnels-Think about those nice sales pages that tell you to buy something you really need.

The “Entrepreneur”

This is the entrepreneur that might have already started one or several businesses,has gotten seed money, or joined an incubator with their team. They may have direct experience in an industry from their corporate role. This where the terms “clean tech” “fintech” anything tech live. A lot of incubators will look for specific types of entreprenuers. The Capital Network is a good place to start for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in Boston. They just hosted an event with top accelerators in Boston.

Tips for networking as an wannabepreneur, solopreneur, or entrepreneur

Let go of your over 1 minute elevator speech that becomes a rant. Get to the pain point that you want to know from them and move on. You can reach out with more specifics in your follow-up but they do not need to know every aspect of your business.

When you are going longer on your rant (elevator speech) do not dismiss other networkers that try to intervene and ask a question to you. If you say, “hey, I want to finish my point” it comes across as “hey, these people are more important than you so buzz off.” Would you say that to your intended audience?

You can feel the difference when you rant vs when you are speaking purposely to get an answer right?

Follow-ups from my last post:

The podcast: It may never get aired because of sound issues. I was in a Wework and the noise on his end during recording may not be able to be edited out. With podcasting, sound is everything. A lesson learned.

The race to 10,000 FB likes on my page-I did not enact this strategy because:

I am now rebranding and moving my site to squarespace. WordPress is much more versatile but it is not helpful at this stage of my business. Plus, every time you want to update your website on wordpress someone wants to charge you $1000 or above. In this case I got a better deal and ongoing consulting with someone that wants to build a relationship with me.

“Shiny” opportunities I find that take me away from my business:

I saw an opportunity to apply to be a published author for a “how to” book. Of course, this is where you can get in trouble when you deviate from your business, but “street cred” as an author is a good thing right?

The overall theme is that your unique experiences really shape how you will succeed as an entrepreneur. While there is a steep learning curve, there is also a lot of opportunity, and lots of exciting paths for you to take.

My conference is next week and will review that experience in my next post.


  1. markdimeglio · ·

    Nice Article! I liked your three different categories for entrepreneurs. In my opinion, the word “entrepreneur” is a huge buzzword when it comes to the tech industry. As you adeptly point out, anyone can obtain an llc and technically be a business-owner. That in itself can’t be a distinctive quality of an entrepreneur. I think an entrepreneur in itself is someone who takes a personal risk to address a need in the marketplace. So with that in mind, the “wannapreneur” in some ways is reflective of a lot of people of think they are entrepreneurs but aren’t really yet. Many people want to be an entrepreneur but aren’t really inclined to take the personal risk to be one.

  2. Nice post. Could have tied it a bit more explicitly to digital business. The connections are there, but just not brought out as clearly as it might have been.

  3. Keenan Neff · ·

    I like this post because it seems that more and more people are classifying themselves as entrepreneurs. I think that most people can be classified as “wannabeprenuers”. They probably have great ideas in their minds but are afraid to follow them or tell them to others because they aren’t 100% sure that it can work out in the long run. I think the hardest part for entrepreneurs is to make the leap from a wannabepreneur to a solopreneur. Once they get to this stage, they can really start marketing themselves and their potential idea to others in hope of raising awareness and generating interest from outsiders. With technology being so advanced today, it is not as hard for entrepreneurs to generate an online presence and get buzz surrounding their idea or product. The ability for “no-namers” to be able to take their idea and groom it to become a potential life-changing product or service for someone else is unbelievable, and we have technology to thank for that.

  4. tylercook95 · ·

    I really like this post and your tips about elevator pitches. I feel as though elevator pitches are so tough to find a balance between getting all your information in there and show your strengths without sounding very conceded. Since entrepreneurs are constantly networking and need to get their ideas out, I’m sure elevator pitches are key in this area. Digital business has definitely shaped elevator pitches as humans now have 6-second attention spans which are less than a goldfish. In an age where people are constantly giving out new ideas, it’s hard to push your way out of the crowd as an entrepreneur. Do you think we maybe need 6-second elevator pitches? (not really feasible but what would that even look like?)

  5. graceglambrecht · ·

    I think you’ve got something going here with the business advice. As a class filled with undergrads and grad students, lots of students are looking for advice on how to build their brands and develop their own businesses. A lot of people in general want to build and grow their own companies so as someone with experience and going through it right now you have a great perspective and insight!

    this post was pretty spot on with entrepreneurs, as many mentioned above it’s a heavy buzz word and giving insight on how to actually BE an entrepreneur and the different stages that people go through on the journey is important for the wannabepreneurs who don’t know how to make the jump.

  6. JohnWalshFilms · ·

    Great post; I really liked these three categories and have witnessed examples of all three both here at BC and in the field as a freelance vidoegrapher. It seems many people, and admittedly myself at times, feel the need to self-identify as an entrepreneur, while there are clearly huge differences between these categories. What do you think are the biggest skills/bahaviors that differentiate between “solopreneur” and “entrepreneur?” Perhaps drawing on your own experience or observations, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this gap.

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