How People React When I Tell Them I’m an Entrepreneur


Pursuing entrepreneurship is an understandingly unconventional and challenging career path; however, coming from an Asian family, it is practically unheard of — especially straight out of college. Therefore, when I decided to pursue entrepreneurship instead of taking the expected corporate route into banking and finance, I felt deeply isolated from my friends and family.

Let’s be clear. I love my friends and family, and I am forever thankful for their support in multiple areas of my life. However, most of them don’t understand the unconventional path of pursuing entrepreneurship. Therefore, I was left only with discouraging comments as I navigated through the entrepreneurial roads alone to cultivate my vision.

While they don’t mean to offend or patronize me in any way, their lack of understanding can feel especially harsh and come off as a damaging blow to my identity as an entrepreneur.

Many entrepreneurs can surely relate to this painful experience, especially when the comments are coming from their close friends or family figures with whom they respect or admire.

It all starts with a simple “so what do you do?” and a negative comment to cast a sense of doubt and skepticism that can extinguish the entrepreneurial flames of any entrepreneur.

So what do you do?

This is the question most young entrepreneurs will dread hearing as the reactions are often at one entire side of the spectrum or the other. People either fully support your entrepreneurial journey, or they simply don’t understand.

Therefore, while I enjoyed meeting new people, socializing with my high-school colleagues, or catching up with my friends and family, I was often hesitant to tell people I am an entrepreneur.

When the occasion does ultimately arise, the conversation often went something like this:

Them: “So what do you do/what do you do now?”

Me: “Oh, um I’m an Entrepreneur.”

Them: “Yeah, these days it’s tough to get a job in the market now, right?”


Them: “So when are you getting a real job?”

The conversation would usually end in awkward silence as I either sheepishly nod or take a big sip of the beverage I’m holding and make an excuse to walk away. However, it is miles worse when you are at the typical family reunion, and all your relatives are sitting along the round dinner table waiting for your response.

I am confident many entrepreneurs can relate to these uneventful experiences. While we can all refrain from attending these events or helplessly endure the awkward conversations, there are ways we can overcome these challenging moments.

Rather than letting my self-esteem and identity as an entrepreneur take a hit, here is the proactive approach I took to create understanding and respect from people unfamiliar with the entrepreneurial route.

Confidence & Patience

After countless awkward conversations and unmemorable events, I have since learned to overcome the sense of doubt and confidently express myself as an entrepreneur.

When hit with the question: “so what do you do?”

I own up to it and either respond confidently with:

“I am a full-time entrepreneur. Yes, the job market is tough and the economy is sluggish. That’s why I have decided to take the fate of my career in my own hands and start a business, which solves x, y, and z.”


“Being an entrepreneur is my full-time career. I have taken a proactive approach and started a business with the mission of x while solving y and z.”

As I genuinely believe in my journey, I confidently own up to my entrepreneurial identity and carefully walk them through my vision. Furthermore, I am patient in helping them understand my decision to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions instead of taking the conventional corporate route.

Our friends and family are not there to throw us down and discourage us from our mission. If we take the time and patience to express our aspirations confidently, they will eventually learn to understand and support us.

Embrace your identity as an entrepreneur

While you may encounter these experiences from other people outside of your circle of friends and family, it is crucial always to embrace your identity as an entrepreneur.

In previous years, being an entrepreneur was seen as a respectable career. An entrepreneur was an admirable figure who embraces the sizeable risk few are willing to take to put his/her dream into fruition.

However, nowadays, the term “entrepreneur” has been loosely used and thrown around everywhere. In the presence of social media, it seems like everyone who is self-employed is an entrepreneur regardless if he/she has a business or not.

Hence, the term entrepreneur has now become tainted with the sea of self-proclaimed “entrepreneurs” on social media who have not taken the necessary risks or effort it takes to start and run a business.

As a result, there are always going to be people who may look down on your mission or doubt your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Therefore, it is up to you to embrace your identity as an entrepreneur regardless of the doubt, disbelief, or disdain you hear from others.

As entrepreneurs, we have to go against the grain time after time again to cultivate our vision and bring our ideas to life.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win — Mahatma Gandhi

Final thoughts

The question, “so what do you do?” doesn’t dread me anymore. Yes, I still receive the same reactions when I tell people I am an entrepreneur.

However, when I confidently own up to my identity as an entrepreneur and express my vision, they often turn their sense of doubts and disbelief into respect and admiration.

Remember, your friends and family are always there for you. While they may not immediately understand, you can always still try your best to guide them through your vision. They are always willing to stand by your side and support what is best for you.

Furthermore, while it is inevitable that there are people who cast doubt upon you or your abilities, learn to embrace yourself as an entrepreneur. It is not easy for everyone to understand your journey as an entrepreneur, but if it were easy, everyone would have done it.

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