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Senior Member
Hungary, Hungarian
Hey there,

I was wondering which job title would be more appropriate to refer to a person who's running a firm, say he's got a bookshop.

-What do you do for a living?
-I'm an entrepreneur\freelancer, I've got a bookshop on Oxford street.

I believe saying it may be optional, yet I'd very happy if you'd tell me how to refer to his title.

Thank you!
  • baker589

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't like entrepreneur, because selling books from one shop isn't very entrepreneural. Freelancer, for me, conjures images of journalists or artists who work for themselves.

    I think that he should say ''I'm a businessman'' or ''I'm self-employed'' (my favourite), if you want a 'title'.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What's the problem with giving the man his title? He's a bookseller.

    Entrepreneur is a word beloved of economic theorists and historians, for someone who shows enterprise in the economic sense. I always imagined they chose the French word because the English equivalent was taken by entrepreneurs in the funeral trade.

    Businessman is a general vague title, and there are times when one wishes to be vague about such things; self-employed is a tax category, which can be used in this sense too, as Baker suggests.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I did think about that, but then decided against it as it's not a title that's in common use. That isn't a problem, however, as it is his correct title.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    As far as his bank (and the taxman) are concerned he’s a ‘sole proprietor’ (of a small business). That would mean that the business is not a limited company, it’s not a franchise operation, and that he is self-employed.


    New Member
    USA, English
    Freelancer would mean he doesn't have only one employer, and instead takes jobs from wherever he finds them.

    For example:

    A freelance carpenter takes woodworking jobs from any individual soliciting his work.
    A freelance journalist writes articles and gives them to whatever news source pays him for those articles.
    A freelance translator translates whatever article anyone pays his to translate, it could be a business or an individual.

    An entrepreneur is one who makes a career out of starting their own businesses. If this man owning the bookstore started it by himself (didn't buy it from anyone else) he is in fact technically an entrepreneur. However, in practical use, an entrepreneur is one who starts their own businesses (more than one).

    For example, Joe is an entreprenuer, he started a bookstore, sold it, then started a web design company. Or Joe started one bookstore, it did so well that he then decided to open a second book store. The emphasis is that he shows "enterprise" and is constantly trying to improve himself economically by means of the creation of businesses.

    I don't like businessman, it's very vague and general. Bookseller sounds a little weird and will just prompt several follow up questions. I also don't like self-employed, to me it's more similar to freelancer than anyting else. It is also a little vague and will prompt questions.

    So, then what to call himself?

    In legal talk, sole propietor would be the correct title. The communly used version of this, and my recommendation, would be a small business owner. If you wanted to be a little more specific you could say, I own a bookstore or I own my own business.
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