Ask your entrepreneur mates to complete the sentence.
“I’m not an entrepreneur lah (lah is a Singlish (Singapore-English) word appended to sentences to give it some character. In this case, it lends the speaker some bashful humility)… I’m just a _____________________”
Here’s a list of euphemisms the entrepreneurs I have encountered have chosen.
- Bounty Hunter
- Rat-Race Quitter
- Problem Solver
- Job Creator
It’s really not very trendy to call yourself entrepreneur anymore huh?
I spoke to 26 year old Ian Francis, who was a delinquent before he was a drop-out (hereon, for political-correctness and in a bid to influence semantics, I shall use the word opt-out) before he was a skate-boarder-turned-pub-owner-turned-tattoo-artist before he co-started Gimmelove Tattoo, and he has the most rockstar of a reply yet.
“I’m not an entrepreneur lah… just a slave to my ambition”
Prior to Gimmelove, Ian started a tattoo publour (parlour/pub). Ian provided a pub, a karaoke bar, a pool hall, with a possible inking as the icing on this cake. This meant that from the age of 20, he was bartender, floor manager, janitor, deejay, accountant and bouncer at any given time. All the groundwork so he can one day fully concentrate on his ambition of being a full-time tattoo artist. When he finally saved enough, he co-founded Gimmelove Tattoo – a crowd-sourcing tattoo portal.
He feels the “corporate world” places too much emphasis on physical first impressions… (I guess we really won’t know unless we attend a job interview with two full sleeves of tattoos in a judgmental world.) Instead of the standard, I was inspired by the Dalai Lama… Ian says people who have made him “feel like crap” have been his source of inspiration.
I cannot even begin to imagine what an outcast wanting to be a tattoo artist in a confused-conservative environment like Singapore must make you. As it is, here, we run TV commercials attempting to educate the public that tattoos do not equal ex-convicts; and in parallel, we have TV programs that perpetuate the stereotype. So for Ian, it is no surprise he started with minimum savings, maximum risk, 100% hard work and 0 support.
As for the support from his friends, he says:
“It has been fun finding out who are the really close ones – They are my guinea pigs!”
And today, if he had a chance to speak to a younger Ian, he’d say:
“Hard work and perseverance and sometimes having a one track mind isn’t all that bad. Just make sure you make it to the end of the road or die trying.”
Oh well. Some entrepreneurs wear their scars on the outside; I wear my rejection scars on the inside.