Embrace the ‘e’ word

The man’s comment caught me off-guard.

I had been talking for about five minutes with Evan, a fellow participant in a course I’m taking, about why we had joined the class.

I explained a bit about motherbility, and he smiled.

“Oh, so you’re an entrepreneur,” Evan said.

I, very briefly, hesitated, then replied, “Yes.”

Caution: Entrepreneur at work. Construction-site selfie.

That hesitation has been driving me crazy ever since.

I founded motherbility, after all, to encourage other moms to embrace their inner entrepreneur, to help them start and run their own businesses. When I’m not “Mom” these days, I’m “entrepreneur.”

And yet … that word.

It feels Serious. Significant. Big.

It is. And it’s not.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “entrepreneur” as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

That’s it. Unless the word “risk” terrifies you, “entrepreneur” isn’t so scary.

I’m far from being the only woman, though, who hesitates to own that title.

“We deliberately avoid the word ‘entrepreneur’ with our women clients. It makes them uncomfortable,” said a (female) business leader I met recently at an entrepreneurship conference.

The implication, I think, was that I should avoid using the “e” word as well, and from a marketing perspective, that’s probably sound logic.

But, ugh, I can’t. Because my gut instinct says that balking at calling ourselves “entrepreneurs” is yet another way in which we women make ourselves small, limit our potential and disavow our own ambitions.

Other examples:

— “Just.”

I hear “just” a lot: “Oh, I just do this little thing on the side.” “Oh, I’m just trying to make a little extra money.” “Oh, I’m just trying something out.”

I “just” too: “Oh, I just run a website,” or, “I’m just trying to help other moms.”

— “Mompreneur.”

I loathe that word. If it weren’t for Search Engine Optimization, I’d ban it from motherbility.

Men don’t call themselves “dadpreneuers.” (OK, I checked and, technically, that term exists. But if you Google it, you get 21,600 hits, versus 2.25 million for “mompreneuer.”)

Moms running their own businesses don’t need another word, we have one: “Entrepreneur.”

— “Before I saw it in myself.”

“Oh, so you’re an entrepreneur,” Evan, a person I’d known for five minutes, said to me Monday night.

“It was other people who saw the potential in me, who saw a governor in me before I saw it in myself,” Mary Burke told me a few months ago.

“I think (my husband) saw it before I did, that I was really enjoying it,” budding seamstress Sarah Wisner said in January.

We need to start seeing in ourselves what others see in us already.

So while yes, yesterday, I hesitated, today I’m calling B.S. on all of it.

Enough of this nonsense. No more “just”, no more “mompreneur,” no more hesitation.

Hi, my name is Kirsten, and I’m an entrepreneur.

You are, too.

Let’s celebrate.




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