An Open Letter to 33 Million Small Enterprise House owners

It happens every time. When I write about an online retail startup, some brick and mortar business owners email that direct-to-consumer retailers aren’t real entrepreneurs because they don’t really connect with their customers.

When I write about a Founders of service startups whose business is based at least in part on personal interactions. Some tech startup founders always email to say that she really isn’t an entrepreneur because her company isn’t easily scalable. And when I write about people who start a business while keeping their full-time job, many will write that these people are not entrepreneurs, especially if they work in the gig economy.

As with many things, some entrepreneurs feel compelled to tell other entrepreneurs what they’re doing wrong. Why your startup isn’t the “right” type of startup. Why they know more than other entrepreneurs and why other people should know they know more.

Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “someone who organizes, manages and takes on the risks of a business”.

Eric Schurenberg, CEO of Mansueto Ventures (parent company of Inc.), likes to quote Howard Stevenson: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to currently controlled resources.”

Neither definition suggests that (in theory) scalable starts are better than single-service startups. This in-house production is better than outsourcing. That tech startups are cooler. That startups geared towards sustainability are hipper. The “all-in” is better than dipping a toe into corporate waters by becoming a DoorDash driver.

Or that deducting a cap increase automatically gives the right to decide who is qualified as a real entrepreneur.

Depending on the circumstances, opening a brick and mortar retail store may not be a good idea. Or start a company whose turnover is limited by the number of hours worked per day. Or allocate capital to facilities and equipment instead of outsourcing them.

On the other hand, these could be great ideas in the hands of the right person. Perhaps one day this humble little Fulfillment by Amazon store will become a retail giant. Perhaps one day this humble little YouTube channel will become a media giant.

Perhaps nights and weekends when DoorDash orders are delivered form the basis for a warehouse and logistics giant.

Everyone starts somewhere – and anyone who organizes, manages, and takes on the risks of a business and dreams of opportunities regardless of the currently controlled resources is an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur who deserves your respect, if only for trying.

Just like you deserve it.

Because we’re all on the same team.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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