New Orleans has always been a city driven by small business, but these days entrepreneurship seems to be all the rage. And it should be. I, for one, am one of its biggest fans.
As a writer who covers the New Orleans entrepreneurial community, I have a good understanding of the positive effect that start-ups and new companies are having on our city. But my perspective also gives me a bird’s-eye view of the way entrepreneurship is altering the English language.
That’s right – altering.
Certain words are losing their meanings. And some new buzzwords are making me want to tase people on the spot for using them frivolously and often out of context.
Thus I present to you the six most overused entrepreneurial buzzwords. Try using alternatives, and, after reading this, start counting how many times a day you hear these words or phrases. It will make you want to tase people, too.
The science-related word has been part of our vocabulary since about the third grade, as it relates to … science, and the environment in which organisms interact. In fact, its actual definition is “the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit,” according to the folks at Merriam-Webster. But what do they know? The word has recently been taken hostage by today’s tech scene to connote the community of tech startups or even a group of objects that are not even living organisms (ahem, startup ecosystem).
I say, let’s give ecosystems back to the frogs and turtles. Instead, use “startup biosphere,” “entrepreneurial cornucopia” or “business commonwealth.” (That’s a joke.)
2. Startup hub
I also have an issue with this over-used phrase. Not for what it is, though. New Orleans has been deemed a “startup hub.” My issue is with what it suggests. I connect the word “hub” to an airport hub, like Atlanta or Houston, where people basically switch planes before getting to where they actually want to go. What New Orleans doesn’t want to become is a place where people can easily “start up,” then take their companies to New York or Silicon Valley when they get their desired funding.
Instead of being a startup hub, let’s be a business mecca.
I realize that the shortened version of “entrepreneur” stemmed from the fact that it takes up 12 of the allotted 140 characters in a tweet, but it sounds silly and takes the professionalism out of the word.
Instead of treps, try treppy-dilioscious or entre. Or, you can also use the word correctly and refashion your tweet to accommodate. You’re a problem solver, aren’t you?
4. Third Wave
In his keynote speech during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, New Orleans native Walter Isaacson pointed out that New Orleans is going through its “Third Wave of Entrepreneurship” and, since then, it’s all hear about. However, New Orleans has historically been an entrepreneurial town. We thrive on small businesses and innovations that cater to our lifestyle and customs. And we always have. Let’s not forget or belittle that. Waves also eventually settle.
Instead, let’s keep this business thing going on as long as we can. Thrive to keep your business going and continue to hire people so that it doesn’t get washed ashore with the crashing waves.
5. Movement: See also, Third Wave.
Pitch fests, startup conferences, business competitions, ecosystem forums – all I want to know is, when do you people work?
I actually love the word entrepreneur. I mean, I write about it, talk about it, and live it. If I truly disliked it, I would have tased myself about 47 times just while writing this piece.
Where I get irked, however, is how often the word is misused. It used to have a sense of power and accomplishment. Now I feel like the word refers to a state of mind. I believe the explorer Bienville and Mayor Landrieu have both been called “entrepreneurs.” I don’t think that they have actually registered business entities, however. And besides, just because you have registered with the Secretary of State, it doesn’t make you an entrepreneur.
Instead, let’s use the word correctly to describe those who “organize, manage, and assume the risks of a business or enterprise.” That responsibility comes with generating revenue and creating jobs.
Let’s be more careful with how we use this word, please. Until Louisiana is No. 1 for entrepreneurship, let’s not assume that everyone is an entrepreneur.