What really grinds my gears close

David Hart
David Hart
In Musings, Grinds My Gears
18th January 2011
What really grinds my gears

What really grinds my gears #1

We’re starting a new regular section for the newsletter, entitled “What really grinds my gears”. Anyone who watches Family Guy might remember the episode when Peter gets a slot on a news show to rant about nonsensical issues such as the inability to find Droids when you need them or the lack of cars in the 19th Century. Anyway, this is a light-hearted rant about life in a digital agency and beyond.
So, first up is over-use of the word ‘entrepreneur’ to describe anyone with a vague idea for a digital business. It sounds so much better to describe yourself as an ‘entrepreneur’ than a guy who had a lame idea whilst drunk with a mate in the pub.
“You know what would be really great? An iPhone app that could, like, automatically order you a kebab and deliver it to your home after a night on the tiles. You know, just looks in your diary and works out that you’ll need a kebab at one in the morning and just orders it. You don’t have to do a thing: they can even open your front door and place it on your lap as you slump in front of the TV. We could call it Key-bab.”
If you break down the word itself, entre means ‘between’ and preneur means ‘taker’. It was first coined by the French economist Jean Baptiste Say (thank you, Wikipedia) to describe someone who sat between capital and labour and took a profit. It didn’t refer to disillusioned management consultants, humiliating themselves in front of sneering Venture Capitalists in a desperate bid to become the next Mark Zuckerberg.
What is worse is the term “serial entrepreneur” being used to describe someone who has had more than one idea, especially when self-applied. “I guess I’m a serial entrepreneur” spoken as if they have some compulsion that means they can’t help but be brilliant.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation, especially in our industry. And there are some great start-ups out there: we work with several people who I would genuinely describe as entrepreneurial because they understand that taking something from idea to successful fruition is a hard, ever-evolving journey. We’ve even put our money where our mouth is with our joint venture with Sarah Beeny on Tepilo.com and the launch of a series of applications for developers.
But let’s not kid ourselves that launching a new online business or application is anything other than very hard work which requires an understanding of the technology as well as knowing how to write a business plan: which needs customers as well as, dare I say, a fantastic website: and which needs dedicated hard graft perhaps even more than an ability to network amongst fellow entrepreneurs.
And that, folks, is what really grinds my gears.