When I started this business a year ago, I called myself a ‘solopreneur’. In fact, I called myself that until just a bit ago when I really started taking a close look at my copy. I found the word enticing, the idea that I was the sole business owner, and that I was ‘in it’ on my own. No more pesky people to manage, no more bosses that micromanaged my time and impeded on my genius. I was a free to roam ‘solopreneuer’–free to manage my time, travel, and have freedom. Nothing could stop me now.
I mean, using it seemed natural. There are hundreds of people who use it. Hell, even Forbes uses it. In fact, there are over 230,000 hits when you google ‘solopreneur’
So despite its popularity, why did I cut ‘solo’ out of all my branding? My copy?
Because I’m not a ‘solopreneur’ and you’re not either.
I can imagine you yelling right now saying “But! I’m an entrepreneur and I run my business alone. So it is a good word to use! I’m totally a solopreneur! Everyone is doing it!”
But are you, REALLY? Are you ACTUALLY a solopreneur?
Let’s explore the etymology of some words shall we?
Solopreneur is a bastardized version of entrepreneur. Entrepreneur is a word we borrowed from my favorite country across the pond, France. The word is actually a mashup two words.
Enterprise, meaning ‘business’
Entreprendre, a French verb meaning ‘to undertake’.
And thus was born, ENTREPRENEUR, meaning to ‘undertake the building of an enterprise’. (Dictionaries like to throw into their definitions that ‘risk is typically involved’ not sure why that is included almost universally, but I digress.)
So let’s go back to that nifty marketing genius of a word, solopreneur. What you’re really saying is that you are in a ‘solo undertaking’.
But once again…You’re not in a ‘solo undertaking’. Need proof? Two things:
No business is ‘solo’
Ok. So you own a business. You might be your own boss. You might even be the Only Executive Officer of your business, but I guarantee you that You. Are. Not. Alone.
When you undertake a relatively public, online presence the concept of being ‘solo’ flies out the window. You rely on your paying clients, the people who read your weekly emails, and the people you don’t even know who share your stuff. There ain’t nothing ‘solo’ about you or your work. You have your mentors, the groups you share, the people who rely on your income to get paid (think: other service providers), etc.
Sure, you might own your business by your lonesome. I hear you. But you aren’t solo. Saying ‘you’re solo’ makes you sound ungrateful.
OK, Makenna, I hear you. So….what do I call myself instead?
Most likely, you’re an entrepreneur. Own it. Love it. Embrace the fact that you, yes just you in and of yourself, can be an entrepreneur. A little quiz….
QUIZ: Are you an Entrepreneur?
1. Do you own a business?
Please circle YES or NO
Scoring: If yes, you’re an entrepreneur. If no, then you’re not.
Stop calling yourself something else. You own a business. You make money. And while you might be the Only Executive officer, master of your own domain, you are certainly NOT on a solo undertaking.
Words matter. Words are copy. Copy is marketing. Marketing gets you heard.
Sure, right now solopreneur is all the rage. But one of these days, it will come to a halt. The best once-upon-a-time solopreneurs are now big deal entrepreneurs who own their own companies, manage their own teams, and make a great deal of cash for their (and their teams’) time. (Think: Marie Forleo, Leonie Dawson, Nathalie Lussier, Natalie MacNeil, and many many more)
So what do you think? Should we (we being solo entrepreneurs) get rid of the word and own our entrepreneur-dom? Does the etymology matter since the word now carries meaning in and of itself?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
P.S. Thank you Ash Ambirge of the Middle Finger Project for inspiring this post and convincing me to up my copy game. If you don’t follow her yet, get your rear over there and do so.