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Call Yourself an Entrepreneur? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider.

In the world of recruiting, I often hear terms that are overused, misinterpreted, and in my opinion, misunderstood.

Aspiring to be an ‘Entrepreneur’ is perhaps the PRIME example of what I am referring to. I understand there is quite a buzz at the moment with pushing a personal brand, and the coolest new business title is to call yourself an ‘Entrepreneur’.

Countless candidates consider themselves a part of this exclusive new group of innovators, and are looking to escape from the corporate structure in order to find happiness and job satisfaction in a smaller, younger, start-up type culture.

So what does it really mean? Here are my thoughts on why the title ‘entrepreneurial’ should be reconsidered by all parties during the hiring process:

For the candidate:

  • “Fast Paced”: Those who consider themselves up for the challenge of the fast-paced innovation of a start-up culture, are usually shocked and disappointed when they experience the reality and uncertainty of entrepreneurial environments. Often, there is a minimal amount of support services, the stress of meeting the sales numbers to justify the payroll is a daily if not hourly concern, where plans change as quickly as they are proposed and where corporate bureaucracy is usually replaced with entrepreneurial anarchy.
  • “A Fresh, Young Brand”: A small, new, emerging and quick-growing brand name that’s built inside the long-established walls of a big company does not equal entrepreneurial. Think about it, is working in a $50M Division of a $2B the same as the grass roots, bootstrapping struggle of an entrepreneur? You’re kidding yourself.

For Management:

  • “Out of the Box Thinker”: It’s quite attractive during the recruiting process to hire “out of the box thinkers”, “rebels within reason”, people with the guts and fortitude to push back and take a risk. But as soon as someone like that really shows up, the swagger of these entrepreneurs shakes the place up, and usually in a way that management doesn’t like. These are the people who don’t always follow the rules, toe the line, do it “our way” and often they are labeled as an ill fit for the company, too assertive, and too risky. The hire may be more entrepreneurial than the existing company culture can tolerate.

I understand that entrepreneurialism is the new craze, but don’t adopt the title on your resume (or, on the flip side, hire for it) when there is a larger company culture to consider. My belief is that with the amount of competition in all industries, large corporate companies will continue to innovate and garner the momentum of small, young and innovative companies. There is a wide gap between thinking that entrepreneurial means small not big, when what it really translates to is a shift in perspective and attitude. It has NOTHING to do with size!

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About the author: Martin is the President of Martin Kartin & Company, a boutique executive search firm, and has dedicated himself to developing a robust talent network as well as maintaining longstanding client relationships. Prior to his career in executive search, Martin was a senior level marketing and sales executive where he held positions at Pfizer, Kraft, Johnson and Johnson and several of their successor divisions. Email him at or shoot him a tweet @MartinKartinCo