Why the Origin of the Word ‘Entrepreneur’ Matters

First and foremost, it wasn’t until recently that I started thinking of myself as an entrepreneur, and even now I feel a little uncomfortable with the term. I wasn’t an enterprising little girl – I didn’t sell lemonade to my neighbors. I didn’t dream about being my own boss. I had zero aspirations to run a Fortune 500 company. In short, I don’t identify with the ambitious, self-starter types who wear the label “entrepreneur” with ease.

Don’t get me wrong, I had (and have) dreams and ambitions, but historically they never included running a company. They were (and are) more along the lines of “travel the world” and “write a bestselling book.” Disrupting the health industry? Writing an app? Yeah, not really on my mind. But here I am, a businesswoman, a writer for therapists and other busy professionals. And because the only person running this business is me, that makes me an entrepreneur. So how can I square this term with my identity?

writer for therapists

What helps me in these situations is to go back to the word’s roots. Somehow getting in touch with the evolution of a word helps me understand it better. (I am a wordsmith after all.) In this case, entrepreneur comes from 18th century French and means “to undertake.” It was mainly used to describe a manager or promoter of a theatrical production, according to this Quora article.

Richard Cantillon, an Irishman living in France, wrote a book in 1755 using the word entrepreneur. He established an entrepreneur as a risk-taker and he believed the term combined two Latin words: “entre” meaning to swim out and “prendes” meaning to grasp, understand, or capture.

writer for therapists

When I think about “entrepreneur” being a combination of “swim out” and “to understand,” then I can settle into the word more easily. Someone who swims out in an attempt to understand something describes me. I love literal swimming but I also love swimming out metaphorically, leaving behind old ideas and trying on new ones. I find inventiveness thrilling and can’t stand stodginess or doing things because that’s the way they’ve always been done.

On top of that, I constantly seek to understand. Curiosity is one of my strongest character traits and is part of the reason I became a journalist – I want to really know people, places, and things beyond the surface level. I care about learning. I ask the deeper questions. “Why?” is perpetually on my mind. It’s not enough for me to hear that such and such happened, I want to know why it happened. What’s the reason behind it?

writer for therapists

When I think of an entrepreneur in this manner, it’s easier for me to accept it as a description of myself. No, I didn’t sell lemonade or Girl Scout cookies as a kid. But I did ask “why” all the time – well beyond my toddler years. This curiosity is what drives my interest in mental health and ultimately my role as a writer for therapists. I have fluency in therapeutic topics even though I never went to school for psychology because on my own I’ve delved into attachment theory, trauma responses, emotional regulation, and more. I seek to understand. And that’s what makes me an entrepreneur.

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