Once everyone's an entrepreneur, no-one will be

What The Incredibles teaches us about the moniker entrepreneur, and why founder is a more appropriate way to describe what you do.

Once everyone's an entrepreneur, no-one will be

Walk down University Avenue in Palo Alto and everyone second person you talk to is an entrepreneur. The scene is repeated in startup hubs the world over. What comes of entrepreneurs when almost everyone lays claim to the moniker?

There's a great line in the Pixar movie The Incredibles where the antagonist, Syndrome, in retort to Mr. Incredible's insult, "You mean you killed off real heroes so that you could pretend to be one?" says:

Oh, I'm real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I'll give them heroics. I'll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so that everyone can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super ... no one will be.

Some guy recently followed me on Twitter, whose bio indicates he's been an entrepreneur since the age ten ...

To paraphrase Syndrome, when everyone's an entrepreneur, no-one will be.

Which reminds me of an Eddie Van Halen quote about being a "rockstar" that teaches a similar lesson:

I'm not a rockstar. Sure I am, to a certain extent because of the situation, but when kids ask me how it feels to be a rockstar, I say leave me alone, I'm not a rockstar. I'm not in it for the fame, I'm in it because I like to play.

I'm as guilty as the next person of assigning entrepreneur to my work persona, but the term has become overused in the same way people call musicians rockstars. And if we refer to ourselves as entrepreneurs then maybe we're in the game for the wrong reasons.

Which is why I think founder is a much more appropriate term. It's what I do. Found and build business, even if I'm still to scale one out of the ballpark.