What Kind of Entrepreneur Are You?

Many Etsy shop owners are entrepreneurs. Yet we challenge traditional assumptions and perceptions of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Are we hardworking and noble, picking ourselves and our families up by our bootstraps? Are we hoping to get rich? Are we trying to escape the rat race? Join it?

Public perceptions of entrepreneurs can be difficult to navigate, yet so much fun to read about. In the The Wall Street Journal, Brad Reagan’s article “What movies and TV tell us about America’s view of entrepreneurs” opens up a discussion of how entrepreneurs are portrayed in everything from reality TV shows like Shark Tank to movies like Jerry McGuire and Field of Dreams. The article describes working class entrepreneurs from Cheers, Mystic Pizza, Ghostbusters, and female entrepreneurs like Mildred Pierce, 1945, 2011. (Comment on this post and let us know which characters you identify with!)

So where do Etsy sellers fit in?

According to Etsy blogger Althea Erickson,  “Etsy sellers share many inspiring traits, most notably their independence and self-reliance. Most are women who are running their businesses on their own from home. While the typical assumption is that all entrepreneurs start their businesses in the hopes of growing as big as possible, that’s not always the case for Etsy sellers. The majority of our community want to increase sales, but also keep their businesses a size they can manage themselves.”

Yet how does Etsy income affect each individual’s economic situation? Etsy has been collecting data on just this topic:

“If Etsy income vanished, the majority of sellers would try to find some way to replace it, whether by ‘looking for another job’ (19%), ‘reducing spending’ (27%), or ‘trying to supplement my income in another way’ (54%). The sellers who would ‘do nothing’ to replace their Etsy income are concentrated mostly among those with low sales volume.”  – From Redefining Entrepreneurship: Etsy Sellers’ Economic Impact, November 2013

Want to get to know more about who Etsy sellers really are? Curious about what percentage of Etsy Sellers used credit cards as a source of start-up capital? Read the full report,  Redefining Entrepreneurship: Etsy Sellers’ Economic Impact 

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  1. It seems that these stats reflect the choices that womyn have made in order to sustain their lives, in some way or another. The stats are relevant to the now. My personal hope is to grow by leaps and bounds with Under The Root and transcend the poverty system in which I grew up in and around.

    • Yes! Agreed. It would be interesting to see Etsy collect more data on how Etsy income plays a role in raising total household income levels. Love your shop!

  2. Hey Kate;

    Great post. I find it interesting that Etsy actually conducted a survey to find out what Etsy sellers would do if their Etsy income disappeared. I personally would open up shop on a different venue to continue to service, my clients and to continue generating income. I also was alway curious as to the % of Etsy shop that are women-owed, I’m happy to see such a high percentage 88% – we are making waves.

    • It is exciting to see all the stats Etsy collected. What I’d really like to see are some stats on the people who run their shops full time. How do they handle health insurance, childcare, how much do they rely on a spouse or other household income. It would be interesting to see how that changes for shop owners over, say, the first 5 years of their shop.