The problem with entrepreneurship is that there’s no certification, no degree program, and no governing body dictating who’s “really” an entrepreneur and who isn’t. As such, anyone can call themselves an entrepreneur just like anyone can call themselves a writer, actor, or model (even if they’ve never been paid for it!). Plus, the definition of entrepreneurship has evolved over the years. Today, it’s one of the most highly desirable “things to be”, but a lot of people are confused about what it entails or want the title without the work.

In fact, entrepreneurship has so much clout that it’s akin to saying you’re in law school these days. However, there’s something real entrepreneurs in the beginning of their journey and fakepreneurs have in common: There’s absolutely no guarantee that either one will ever succeed. It’s kind of like going to law school. You can have the degree, but who knows if you’ll pass the bar, get hired by a firm, or ever really be a lawyer?


Here’s the big difference though: Most people assume a law student will become a lawyer. Most people assume an entrepreneur will fail. Why the discrepancy? Well, it’s pretty tough to fake your way into law school, but it’s really easy to be a fakepreneur.

Telling the Difference

If you meet someone but can’t tell if they’re really an entrepreneur or a fakepreneur (cough, like on Tinder), there are some red flags to watch out for—but don’t get distracted. How much money a person has in no way dictate whether they’re an entrepreneur or not. A genuine entrepreneur is in charge of operating and managing a business(es) while taking on a big financial risk in the process. The vast majority of successful entrepreneurs have no shortage of stories about the time they lost it all.

Maybe you think you can tell how successful a person is by how many staff they have on board. Again, that’s a false trail. Just look at Facebook: There’s no denying that’s a runaway entrepreneurial success, but a couple of college kids started it. It took Zuckerberg quite awhile to actually hire permanent staff. Perhaps you think you can tell by how “professional” someone looks. Remember: Anyone can order business cards, lease commercial space or build a website. Don’t let the glitz fool you.

Watch for Bread Crumbs

Another falsity is that entrepreneurs don’t have other, “real” day jobs. That’s not always the case—not all entrepreneurs have the stability to be able to give up a paying job in order to pursue their venture full-time. That is, of course, the eventual goal. You’re not going to get very far as an entrepreneur if you can’t pay your rent. Entrepreneurship is hustling, and by definition that means doing whatever it takes to get things done.

The only real difference between entrepreneurs and fakepreneurs is the ability to start something.

Entrepreneurs succeed and fail, sell and adapt, change and battle, but they never give up. It’s the reasons behind their actions that make all the difference. Actions and problem solving approaches are what define an entrepreneur.