Inner Strength Communication will soon be five years old, and as my gift of appreciation, I challenged you to #askmeanything.


My first post of this series answers an amazing question from Rachel Miller of @AllThingsIC in the United Kingdom. For those passionate or even curious about Internal Communication, Rachel is definitely a global leader to follow.

Rachel's Question: One did strike me - and it's the word entrepreneur. I describe myself as one (because I am), but it's not often used within the Comms world. We talk about being independent practitioners or freelancers rather than entrepreneurs. I'd love to know your take as I noticed you used it in your description. So that would be my question please: Why do you think Comms pros who run their own businesses don't call themselves entrepreneurs?

My Answer:

This was an interesting question to ponder. I thought I would start with googling the definitions of each of the terms Rachel mentioned. What made them different from one another?


These compilations of definitions I found were insightful.

Freelancers define themselves through their freedom to decide when, where and with whom they work. They appreciate having ownership of their time and the freedom to choose.

Independent Practitioners define themselves by their skills and expertise. An IABC/Toronto special interest group I belong to calls itself PIC - Professional Independent Communicators after re-branding themselves several years ago from AIC - The Alliance of Independent Practitioners. The group consists of Communication professionals who specialize in specific areas of expertise - Writing, Editing, Podcasting, Photography, Graphic Design, Video Production, Media Relations, Crisis Communication, Issue Management, etc. They appreciate the specialized service they can offer to their clients.

Entrepreneurs are building something. I'd like to think they define themselves through their leadership, influence and their impact. Whether it's building a business (more people than just themselves), new practices, or new platforms; entrepreneurs cast their net and dreams just a bit wider. Having been a corporate communicator for the majority of my in-house career, I used to always say that every corporation started out with a dream by a chosen few who believed they had something to contribute to their community and/or the world.

I think most communication professionals decide to take the expertise they had in-house and offer it as a service independently. That's why they refer to themselves as independent practitioners. Those that refer to themselves as entrepreneurs are looking beyond their independent practice or service. They are building a larger business or agency, they want to have wider impact, and they consider themselves leaders or potential leaders in their field.

When I started Inner Strength Communication Inc., it was with the purpose and intention of establishing internal communication as an integral enabler of business success. For me, it was bigger than a paycheck, or freedom, or independence. I felt I could help organizations and communication professionals succeed while fighting for an under-valued discipline that I knew had the power to enable, engage and empower employees (and other internal audiences) to deliver business results.

I have to admit that I don't think there is a right or wrong way to refer to yourself. That being said, I'd love for more Comms Pros to refer to themselves as entrepreneurs because I personally want them to see themselves as leaders building a practice or business that has influence and impact. Perhaps as we see more focus on strategy versus tactics, this evolution will happen naturally.

Remember that these are my opinions and I'd love to hear yours. Why do you refer to yourself as a freelancer, independent practitioner or entrepreneur? Do you call yourself something different? Does what I say resonate, make you think, or make you angry?

I hope I've answered your question Rachel Miller. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for the next blog where I contemplate the first few of Eleanor Tan's questions:

1. Did you wish you had become an entrepreneur earlier, given your 20-year corporate tenure? Why or why not?

2. Why Inner Strength?

Do you have a question you would like answered? #Askmeanything in the comments.

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Let me first start this post by saying that I am making a conscious effort to refer to practitioners differently, but that I often find myself falling into the trap of referring to myself and others, who make a living as experts in communication, as communicators.
A few weeks ago, I talked about a series on Navigating your Communication Career. Today’s focus will be on being an in-house practitioner. It’s no surprise that the majority of communication professionals work in-house for organizations.
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