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Which would you rather be called: entrepreneur vs. founder?

It seems to me that the word 'entrepreneur' is everywhere these days - it's used as a self-descriptor for people that haven't started their own company, but are either planning on it (sort of a preemptive title in this case) or were part of an early team / have experience working at small startups. I believe people are free to call themselves whatever they choose, but I'm curious what you'd rather be called, an entrepreneur or founder, no matter whether you've started your own company, or if you were an early member of a startup team?

13 Replies

Jose Manuel (
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Journalist Super-connector PR/Marketing Leader Quadrant Two PR LLC & EVECAIN Network Founder Business Adviser
Joey, In general, I would prefer entrepreneur. As someone post-start up, then I want to make and communicate that connection to the start up in question and at that point I prefer Founder. Both say different things and have different messages. JM de Jesus, MBA President Quadrant Two PR LLC
John Seiffer
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John Seiffer Advisor
Business Advisor to growing companies
From my perspective, Founder or Co-Founder is kind of parallel to your position in the company. It usually (but not always) indicates the company is too small to have actual job descriptions OR is used with your title to indicate you're one of the founders. eg Founder, CEO or Founder, CTO. It helps others (investors for example) give a sense that you are more than an employee.

Entrepreneur is kind of like saying "business owner" and sort of more generic. I would not use that with investors - it's not specific enough.

I know that's sort of vague, but that's what it brings up for me.
Richard Bullwinkle
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VP of Products & Marketing at Dictionary.com
It's a funny question. For me I prefer founder. An entrepreneur doesn't necessarily have a project going. A founder is in deep. After one has founded multiple companies, entrepreneur might fit better. But when you are out selling your current story, and it is all you think about day an night, being the founder of that story is far more significant than anything you've done in the past.
Brian Hilgendorf
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Visionary Entrepreneur and Financial Executive
I would echo the comments above. Entrepreneur is a general statement about the willingness to take risk within a business venture in order to create an outcome. A Founder to me is more about actually initiating a venture from the start and doing what it takes to get it started and growing.

As for what I would prefer to be called, when talking about me as a person I would say Entrepreneur. When discussing a specific venture that I started then Founder is more appropriate, essentially if your are a Founder then you are also an Entrepreneur. If you are a Entrepreneur then you may or may not be a Founder.
Marius Krasauskas
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Marius Krasauskas Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
I can be either a founder, either an entrepreneur, and so on.
As comment above, Entrepreneur is a general statement, it's more about "personality". And a founder is more about legal state at that particular company.
If someone says to you, I'm a founder - question is, of what ? It's almost as it must go with something you founded.
If someone says to you, I'm an entrepreneur - Ok.
Mark W. Angle
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Mark W. Angle Entrepreneur
Architect at ThyssenKrupp North America
I think the word entrepreneur is first off over used. But, in my mind, it refers more to the overall mindset and thought set of a person. While a founder is specific to a company. As in "I am the founder of BEbase, a company specializing in activities and experiences." I would refer to myself as each in different contexts. Mark W. Angle
Leena Chitnis, MBA
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Leena Chitnis, MBA Entrepreneur • Advisor
Content & Publication Manager at NetApp
Founder. It means I am focused on one company. 'Entrepreneur' brings serial entrepreneurship to mind. One who "entrepreneurs" could be someone who is focused on many different ideas or one who has this quality. I'd rather appear more focused.
Alex Eckelberry
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Alex Eckelberry Advisor
CEO at Meros.io
Founder is a way cooler word.

But it will all change when the bubble pops. Then everyone will want to call themselves "employee".

LanVy Nguyen
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LanVy Nguyen Advisor
Founder & Managing Director at Fashion4Freedom
This is the first time I've heard "entrepreneur" defined as a self-description by someone in the process of founding his/her dream.

If this illustrates the language & lingo taking up air in this space, then the self-described "serial entrepreneur" should be avoided at all cost as their constant dreaming of bigger and better ideas might lead a partner down a long windy financial nightmare.
John Butler
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John Butler Entrepreneur
Founder and President at Quantumcyte, Inc, Director of Process Development at Stanford University School of Medicine
I have to agree with Richard. This being my first company I identify more as a founder than an entrepreneur.
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