Are you entrepreneurial?

I hate this word. Quite frankly, I have overdosed on it to the point of having nearly-physical symptoms every time I hear or read the word – in emails, blogs, social media, and most recently in numerous Twitter chats. The word is simply inescapable and, let’s be honest, now devoid of any meaning. Take a moment and think of what your definition of entrepreneurial is; now grab your phone and text the question to a bunch of your friends. I am willing to bet that no homogeneous reply will emerge. Ironically, everyone who answers this question describes him-or herself – their best qualities, of course. We are all so “entrepreneurial” simply because it is the thing to be; it is in vogue – a strength of sorts.

Here is the definition according to a quick search on Google:

en·tre·pre·neur·i·al ˌäntrəprəˈnərēəl/ adjective

– characterized by the taking of financial risks in the hope of profit.

Let’s try it again. Are you entrepreneurial? How willing are you to bet it all – the safety of a paycheque, financial stability, and risk it all for a crazy unpredictable business gamble? All in, with the hope of a profit once the roulette wheel you set in motion stops spinning.

And as an employer, when you say that your core hiring criterion is for the employee to be “entrepreneurial,” is it the gambler you really want on your team? Perhaps you do when you are starting off, as making payroll is in itself a gamble of sorts, and you need people crazy enough to take the risk and embark on the ride with you. Let’s be honest though – did your first, second and third hires really know how underwhelming your bank account was? Had they known, would they have really been entrepreneurial enough to take the job you sold to them so hard? And when I discuss the search for a new hire with a well-established, prospering company with enviable budgets, their desire for entrepreneurial traits certainly means something much different altogether.

Here comes my suggestion. Let’s not group a multitude of awesome and desirable traits I hope you possess into one overused and tired descriptor. Let’s stop glorifying entrepreneurship and the ensuing derivatives. I have met a plethora of lazy, reactive, and unimpressive business owners who have all once taken the financial risk in the hope of profit, but whom I would never hire in a million years. And neither would you.

So I say let’s drop “entrepreneurial” altogether: it means too many different things to be the key element in a job description, in a company mission statement, or in your goals for your new hire. We don’t know what it actually means, but we definitely know it when we see it. Sure, we can keep talking about it – but I say we be about it instead.

Co-written by Marina Byezhanova and Stefano Faustini

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