Stilettos and Brass Knuckles: One Woman’s View as an Entrepreneur
I’ve been called many things in my life. Most recently I have been called a “woman entrepreneur,” “mompreneur,” “social entrepreneur,” and a few other things I won’t repeat. Transitioning from freelancer to entrepreneur (not businesswoman—a distinction I will explain shortly) was an exhilarating, frightening, and freeing experience. Through that transition I became a master of my destiny, a creator of possibility in a world wrought with excess and destruction, and forever an advocate for a new way of life–a way to personal and ideological freedom.

You see, entrepreneurs are a special breed. We look at the unknown and say, “I can make something out of that.” We don’t run haphazardly toward the dark abyss of uncertainty as many assume. We see possibility. We calculate the risk, develop a strategy, and attack uncertainty with unrelenting stubbornness. Enticed by the reward only creation can bring, we mold new technologies, challenge paradigms, and build cultures of thought and living that startle the dreary corporate mentality.

Here is where an entrepreneur and businessperson differ. In his book The E Myth, Michael Gerber showed us that a businessperson is not necessarily an entrepreneur, namely because businesses are started for a number of reasons, many of which do not spur from an entrepreneurial spirit. A star employee decides he can do it better and starts his own business. Someone gets laid off and starts freelancing and calls it a business. Someone sees a business in the works and says, “I can do it better” and starts a business. Someone buys into a Multi Level Marketing company and calls it a business. Many businesses are copies of existing businesses. Many people start businesses and never develop themselves as business owners, but instead continue to operate as employees. Many businesses are launched without ever considering market positioning, differentiation, or innovation. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, think of all those things and more.

An entrepreneur charges new frontiers, takes the task of charting new waters into their own hands, and innovates. They are good at starting things from scratch (things that often don’t exist yet) and building them up. They are good at crossing boundaries, strategically developing ideas, and making something from nothing. An entrepreneur is not necessarily a good businessperson (which is why they often sell or step back after a certain point). Nor are they necessarily a good manager (people skills are not a requirement). A businessperson is anyone who starts a business. An entrepreneur is someone who takes the task of creating something original in order to solve a great market or social need into her own hands.

I am a businessperson. I have people skills, can manage projects and a team, and know how to build a business from the ground up and then maintain it. More importantly, I am an entrepreneur. Which is why I take offense to those seemingly innocuous terms of “woman entrepreneur” and “mompreneur.” Do you ever hear someone say “man entrepreneur” or “dadpreneur?” No. Then why do I need that distinction? Qualifying my place as an entrepreneur with the word “mom” or “woman” actually discounts me as an entrepreneur by creating an arbitrary separation based on my sex. I am different as an entrepreneur because of my vision, my drive to use entrepreneurial ideas to solve society’s greatest problems, my brass knuckles approach, and my commitment to building a company culture that supports individual growth and community involvement. My gender, and the fact that I gave birth, may contribute to my ideas and philosophies, but they are not what define me as an entrepreneur. I am defined by what I create.

Recently I formed a strategic partnership with Tech Ranch Austin, a tech accelerator located in my hometown of Austin, Texas. This partnership allows me to make tremendous strides towards my personal mission for a Brass Knuckles Revolution as we build out a community of social entrepreneurs within the Tech Ranch Austin framework, a community of people using entrepreneurship to solve hunger, poverty, injustice, malnutrition, sustainability, and other social concerns both at home and abroad. I’m forming a think tank of people to take on these issues while we build up other social entrepreneurs with their own missions and social problems to address. I can’t express in words how fulfilling and motivating it is to finally make tangible movements toward my life’s goal of affecting widespread, positive change in the world. This is my personal rite of passage as an entrepreneur. Creating on this scale and impacting society at this magnitude is what it means to be an entrepreneur. Now I am creating more than just a business (or multiple businesses). I am creating a legacy.