Becoming entrepreneurial is very much like learning a new language. While others are headed off for another predictable day, entrepreneurs are thinking about ambiguity, uncertainty and, even, paradox.

Eavesdrop on a group of self-employed folks at your neighborhood coffee shop and the conversation bears little resemblance to those overheard in an employee lunchroom.

To aid in the transition, I’ve created The 21st Century Entrepreneur’s Lexicon to help you become fluent as quickly as possible.

Adventure—any undertaking, the outcome of which cannot be known at the outset

Boss—a four-letter word that is banished, unless, of course, it’s what other people call you

Businessperson—Duncan Bannatyne said it best. “Business is not the same thing as being an entrepreneur. Businessmen have fat bellies, red braces and pin stripe suits.

“Entrepreneurs do their own thing to create a business. I want to raise the profile of the entrepreneur and make it a sexier word so that more people will do it.”

Collaboration—working with kindred spirits to produce a project or product of mutual benefit; far more satisfying than the old competition model of business

Comfort zone—place to avoid or exit from quickly

Creativity—the secret weapon of entrepreneurs

Dreambasher—one who attempts to interfere with the dreams of another; also known for nipping their own dreams in the bud

Dreambuilder—person assuming responsibility for creating the life of their dreams

Expense—financial outlay used to run a business

Failure—an option often mistaken for running out of patience

False security—trusting someone else to take care of you

Fun—the acid test of a good idea

Homework—gathering information, doing research, talking to trusted allies; a preliminary to taking action, but not a substitute for action

Inspiration—an entrepreneur’s trusted invisible friend

Integrity—the cornerstone of any worthy enterprise

Investment—financial outlay spent in the expectation of a greater future return

Kindred spirit—those folks whose faces light up when you walk in the room

Laughter—sound emanating from the Joyfully Jobless throughout the day

Lifelong learning—wonderful bonus of being self-employed

Multiple profit centers—the jigsaw pieces that make up your perfect business

Natural monopoly—when you are so perfect for the situation that the competition disappears

Options—the more, the better; sound decision-making comes from considering multiple choices and selecting the best

Problems—the hiding place of great opportunity

Purpose—the guiding light for decision-making and business-building

Quotation—wise thoughts to be collected; a good one is a seminar in a sentence

Remarkable—a worthy aspiration for an entrepreneur

Right brain—the generator of entrepreneurial ideas

Risk—not knowing for sure, but being confident enough to move ahead because you’ve done your homework

Security—knowing you can solve problems, create profit centers, always find a way

Supervisior—see Boss

Ubiquitous—my favorite definition says “appearing to be everywhere at once”; a smart entrepreneur keeps looking for new ways and places to appear

Vision—a place to come from


Although I’ve shared my lexicon in other places, I was inspired to dig it out again today after reading Scott Stratten’s delightful Top Tep Things Entrepreneurs Never, Ever Say.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out for yourself.

Trying to build a business without entrepreneurial thinking is like trying to build a house with a toothbrush. An employee mindset is not a useful tool.

Fortunately, learning to think like a successful self-bosser is something we can teach ourselves. Here are some proven ways for expanding entrepreneurial consciousness.

° Make persistence your personal trademark. We’ve all heard the stories of the multiple experiments conducted by Thomas Edison before he figured out how to make a light bulb. Edison’s not the only one, of course, to succeed by not giving up.

During the remarkable renaissance of Tina Turner a few years back, the entertainer remarked, “I’m just now reaping the rewards for 25 years of hard work.” That persistence landed her on many  Most Admired Lists, too.

By the way, psychologists and others who have studied the lives of successful people rate persistence as more important than intelligence.

° Embrace repetition. Most people operate on a limited budget of ideas. When one or two things don’t work out, they quit. Like persistence, constant practice is also a trademark of the successful.

If you need to be reminded that excellence requires repeated effort, consider this: when GQ magazine celebrated a milestone, they put Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford, two of the most photogenic creatures on Earth, on the cover. The photographer who took the cover shot used 63 rolls of film to get the perfect picture.

° Reframe the way you think about a current job, if you have one. Stop thinking that your job is a permanent condition but merely your first profit center, the one that allows you to generate cash flow while you create your next one.

Thinking of yourself as a service provider, not an employee, will change your relationship. If you start thinking of your job as a profit center, chances are greater that you’ll be saying good-bye to it sooner.

° Have a phantom mentor. If you could pick anyone, living or dead, to advise you, who would it be? Pick someone you admire greatly and have imaginary conversations with them. It’s not as weird as it sounds.

Or start asking yourself, “What would an entrepreneur do?” and see what answers spring to mind.

° Find the hidden gift in goalsetting. A few years ago, I was considering buying both a desktop and a laptop computer, but unsure of which to get first.

On a flight to Amsterdam, my seatmate was a pleasant man who told me he worked for a company that made hinges for laptops. I had no idea that this was a thriving specialty industry and I bombarded him with questions.

When I told him I was planning to get an iBook, he said, “They’re coming out with something spectacular. If you can wait until August, do. I can’t tell you any more about it since what I know is confidential.”

Later, I realized that there’s a gift given to goalsetters and it’s this: when you are clear about your goals, life suddenly is filled with recognizable coincidences.

° Let love lead. A  friend and I went to a sold out concert of Clannad, the Irish band, at  London’s Royal Albert Hall. As we were leaving, I said, “Imagine saying, ‘Let’s start singing Celtic folk songs. I’m sure that will be a hit.’”

Of course, Clannad did nothing of the sort. They  simply determined that they would spend their lives sharing the music that they loved, knowing that they wouldn’t be alone.

How many others shared that love was something they couldn’t know ahead of time. There’s not always a way to do market research when love is your motive.

Trusting your instincts, however, can lead you to your perfect place.


Of all the Christmas gifts that Jack has received, there’s one that he remembers most fondly. When he was still dreaming about being a writer, his sister gave him a copy of Writer’s Market.   It was the first time anyone had encouraged his writing aspirations—and it made a big difference. Jack’s gone on to author several books and dozens of articles.

Know someone standing on the edge of a dream? How might you show your support for that? If your friend or family member is a budding entrepreneur, a subscription to Winning Ways newsletter or a gift certificate for a teleclass might be a fit. Or select one of the books that you’ll find in the Joyfully Jobless library.

Here are some other ways to fan your own entrepreneurial spirit.

Steven Kalas is one of my favorite columnists in the Las Vegas Review Journal, as I’ve mentioned before. His recent piece called We Think a Little Too Much About Ourselves on Facebook is definitely worth a read.

Another resident of my hometown is voice artist and broadcaster Dave Courvoisier. His blog post called A Word About…Words is an eloquent reminder of why we should have paid better attention in English class.

Give yourself a break and listen to John Williams, Judith Morgan and Mike Yates, founders of the Creative Entrepreneurs Club, discuss developing an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s loaded with observations about what it takes to be successfully self-employed.