I meet lots of people who say, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” No matter how many times I hear this, I always think it’s a little funny. I understand that the idea of going out on one’s own and starting a company can seem glamorous and appealing, especially when there’s a glimmer of hope that you’ll launch the next Facebook, Twitter, or Gilt Groupe. But for me, “entrepreneur” isn’t a job title. When someone asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I still expect the answer to be something traditional, like “a doctor” or “a lawyer” or “a teacher.” For me, when I was little, I wanted to be a meteorologist (I was scared of lightning and thought weathermen were invincible). Until college, the word “entrepreneur” wasn’t in my vocabulary, and even once it was, the concept still didn’t resonate. If you wanted to own a restaurant, you opened a restaurant. If you wanted to open a clothing boutique, you became a shop owner. You didn’t “become an entrepreneur.”
Now that I own my own business and self-describe as an entrepreneur, I see entrepreneurship everywhere I look. When I discover a new independent cafe or store opening up in my neighborhood, I wonder about the behind-the-scenes process and goals. When I read about a new cosmetics line or small-scale snack food brand, I wonder about the people behind these companies and what compelled them to do what they’re doing. These small business owners, taking on the risks and uncertainties that come with running their own show, join the cast and crew of people we can describe as entrepreneurs.
Maybe all of this should make me say, “Okay, I get it. I understand why everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are all around us! They make our neighborhoods interesting and our lives function. Plus, maybe I can start the next foursquare or Pinkberry.” But instead, I think I get why “I want to be an entrepreneur” doesn’t resonate with me. It’s because that term is so broad. It can mean anything and apply to people in any profession. For me, it’s not compelling enough for someone to say “I want to be an entrepreneur.” I want them to tell me what they’re passionate about, what they love to do, what they want to bring to the world. For me, the idea has to come before the entrepreneur. I had the idea for Baking for Good, and the only way to bring it to life was to become an entrepreneur. Otherwise, who knows? I could be delivering your weather forecast right now.