If you are running a business–whether it’s just you managing a series of online courses people do in their spare time–or you have a company with 80 employees, you’re a small business owner. But you may prefer to call yourself something else, like a solopreneur, a micropreneur or a entrepreneur.
When it comes to business, does what you call yourself really matter?
Your title is part of your self-identity, or “the recognition of [your] potential and qualities.” So if you introduce yourself as “Jane Smith, entrepreneur,” you’re identifying with the qualities you associate with “entrepreneur,” perhaps recognizing that you’re an innovative visionary with an eye on future opportunities. Your behavior will likely begin to reflect that. Calling yourself “Jane Smith, small business owner,” however, may mean you’re content with your current office and staff size.
The phrase you use to describe what you do not only informs your own ideas about yourself and your business, it also influences how you are perceived by those around you. The term you use projects an image of you and your business to the person you’re communicating with, an image associated with their perceptions of what each word means.
The term “micropreneur” is so new it doesn’t yet have an entry in the traditional online dictionaries. However the legal terminology site US Legal.com says “a micropreneur is an entrepreneur willing to accept the risk of starting and managing a very small type of business that allows him or her to do the kind of work s/he wants to do, and offers a balanced lifestyle.”
Signs you could be a micropreneur include:
You’re the only one in your business. Everything depends on you. You are responsible for all tasks – sales, marketing, bookkeeping and production.
You’re quite happy for your business to stay small… at least for now.
You may depend on help from freelancers. And you are quite possibly a freelancer, yourself.
You don’t pay for office space. You likely work from home and may not even have a typical home office. If your “office” is your kitchen table or a tiny desk in the corner of your bedroom, you just may be a micropreneur.
Although formal statistics and studies on the difference between micropreneurs and solopreneurs are scant, the main difference between whether you call yourself a micropreneur or a solopreneur seems to be how you view the size and purpose of your business.
The Oxford Dictionary says the word “solopreneur” originated in the 1990s, and is “a person who sets up and runs a business on their own.” This doesn’t sound that different from an entrepreneur, or even a small business owner.
Signs you identify as a solopreneur:
You operate a business of one but often collaborate on larger projects with other solopreneurs or micropreneurs with different skill sets.
You actively use new technology, apps and software to scale up your production and to take on bigger projects and more work.
You want to expand and grow your business or are at least comfortable with the idea.
You have an entrepreneurial mindset.
Freelance professionals are often solopreneurs. Many professional writers, designers, virtual assistants and consultants fall into the solopreneur category, though they may have started as a micropreneur.
Like a micropreneur, a solopreneur enjoys great freedom and flexibility when it comes to choosing how, when and where to work as well as which work to accept and decline. And as far as taxes go, the IRS doesn’t distinguish between the two, so regardless of your chosen title expect to pay self-employment taxes. Whether you identify more with the term solopreneur or micropreneur, the advantages are the same. You’re the one in control— of everything. In a business of one, the owner has decision-making responsibilities over all aspects of their business, including how much work he or she wants to take on. Decisions about location of work, work hours, and the size and type of projects to tackle all belong solely to the micropreneur/solopreneur. This flexibility makes the micropreneur life a good fit for people with family responsibilities that don’t fit into a typical 9-to-5 workday, people who prefer to work non-traditional workday or workweek hours, and those who may just love being in control.
The word “entrepreneur” has been popping up more frequently over the past 30 years due to government programs promoting entrepreneurship over manufacturing as well as increasing scholarly interest and research on self-employment in America. Yet the dictionary definition is still vague. An entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
In a survey of self-employed individuals carried out by The Hartford, just 18 percent of the 751 respondents called themselves entrepreneurs. Those who did gave significantly different descriptions of themselves than people who identified as small business owners.
Entrepreneurs run businesses of all sizes.
Signs you may identify as an entrepreneur:
No matter how big or small their company, they see themselves as visionaries eager to grow their current companies and find new opportunities.
Innovation is an important hallmark of self-identified entrepreneurs. According to The Hartford survey, respondents who identified as entrepreneurs — 45 percent of them — chose the phrase “I am innovative” to describe themselves over any other phrase, while just 20 percent of self-identified small business owners connected with the statement.
An individual’s age also appears to be a factor in whether they consider themselves an entrepreneur. More millennials self-identify as entrepreneurs than older respondents do. A full 25 percent of millennials in The Hartford study called themselves entrepreneurs, compared to just 16 percent of Gen-Xers and 15 percent of Baby Boomers.
When you’re the boss of your own business, you have the freedom to choose what to call yourself. So before you order that new sign or box of business cards, think carefully about how you want to present your business to yourself and to the public, now and in the future.