you may not be an entrepreneur

angel of business


I’ve often fantasized about becoming an entrepreneur. It’s an easy thing for someone who works in the corporate world to do. I made a halfway move: I’m a consultant. I don’t really live ‘in’ the world that my corporate colleagues do, but I do physically sit in the same place and enjoy the same pleasant fluorescent-filled days they do. But you’ll find in this corporate world that many employees dream of a future, full of boss-less days, exciting work and endless financial rewards. Here’s a wakeup call.

If you are an entrepreneur, nothing will stop you. I had friends in college (and in high school) who were entrepreneurs. They not only didn’t want to take a job while they built a business – they NEVER wanted a job. The very idea of a job was antithetical to the way they thought. I have relatives like this, too. They would rather live in a dump than take a ‘job’. They might work at at gas station for a while, or a temp job, just to put a roof over their heads. But they never, ever would engage in the kind of corporate jobs many people accept for granted. They wouldn’t give up the time when they could be building a business to sit in a cubicle and wait.

That’s not an indictment of corporate employment. It works for some people. But I don’t like the idea that within ever corporate employee there’s an entrepreneur waiting to bust out. That’s possible, but not likely. Most of the entrepreneurs I’ve known were uncontrollable maniacs – they had to get out there and build something. They were never going to settle for sitting at a desk.

It’s hard to admit what you are, sometimes. I wasn’t an employee – that was an easy admission for me to make, after I made the switch. What was tough for me was admitting that, other than my side income through my blog, I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I’m not. It’s not my skill set – I’m technically savvy but I’m a terrible marketer and salesperson. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ll do it as soon as you have 30 days’ worth of rent money saved up. You’ll be ready for the risk. If you don’t? You’re still a good person, but you’re probably better off leaving the business-building to someone else, and concentrating on your job.

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8 Replies to “you may not be an entrepreneur”

  1. Steve – I think that you create an either/or situation here that doesn’t quite apply. Yes, entrepreneurs have the deep fire in the belly to create something. That doesn’t mean that an entrepreneur won’t work in corporate cubedom for a while? Why would an entrepreneur just keep the embers smoldering rather than just jumping straight into the deep end?

    1) Financial security. It’s a lot easier to give your idea a chance if you have a nest egg built up. The fewer expenses (read: debt payments) you have when you go solo, the easier it is to persevere through the hard times until you hit pay dirt. Furthermore, if your idea doesn’t work, you’re not left destitute for having taken a chance.
    2) To gain applicable skills. You said in the post that you didn’t really have the marketing nous to feel comfortable as an entrepreneur. You can do on the job training to learn that skill – the question is whether or not you’re doing it on your employer’s dime or on your own.
    3) To mature. As a 21 year old, I was indestructible. At least, I thought I was. I also thought I was a lot smarter than I actually was. Fortunately, I had a very tactful and skilled platoon sergeant who sat me on my duff and showed me how the world actually worked. I still had a lot of growing up to do.

    So, while most entrepreneurs choose the path because of ambition, motivation, or lunacy, they don’t have to be hell-bent for leather to get started in order to be successful.

    1. Jason, I agree that I’m probably making too much of an either/or situation, but that’s the nature of expressing an opinion.  For the most part (a generalization) an entrepreneur won’t settle for being an employee.  Am I being too general?  Yes…yes, I am.  Of course there are exceptions.  I still think most entrepreneurs will TRY far sooner than want-to-be or pretend-to-be entrepreneurs.  Will they be more successful?  Maybe or maybe not?  Will they try sooner or more frequently?  I think, based on only my personal observation, yes, they will…. 

    2. No offense intended! Yes, entrepreneurs will be much more likely to a) have a fire in the belly, and b) do something about it! Thanks for the conversation and for the thought-provoking article!

  2. Bravo!  I’m so sick of articles telling my I need to set goals and get off my duff, blah, blah, blah. The constant barage from bloggers of “You have to start your own business because it’s the only solution to living the good life and look at me I did it!” just adds to my frustration.  I hate sitting at a desk day after day but I’m in a situation right now that striking out on my own just isn’t possible.  I knew there had to be someone out there that doesn’t think people are failures because they haven’t figured out yet how to make “the” change.  Thank you.

  3. I don’t see why any of this is the only way to prove you are true entrepreneur.  Some are more passionate about their product (even though it is costing them money and a true failure) while others may want money saved and better ideas before they pull the trigger.  There are many people out there trying to say who is and who isn’t an entrepreneur, and I find them all to be rather funny.  (There was a quiz that said if you left your coffee cup on top of your car you are one.)

    On the other side I have to agree somewhat with your post.  I think what you are getting at is being an entrepreneur is in your blood and is all you think about than you can become one (with an idea that works). 

    1. Hey LB – yeah, I think your second paragraph is what I meant to say:  it’s in your blood, or it isn’t.  You may think you want it, but if you are, you’ll know it.

  4. Over 40 years of employment, I’ve shifted back and forth between self-employment and wage slavery. When I have been in someone else’s employ, with only one exception I’ve created something new and run it for the duration of my time there. Often that time was relatively short (the longest I’ve worked in one place was 15 years, and even there I worked at two geographically separated plants), because I tend to get bored and want to move on to something new. Back in the Cretaceous, that trait defined “entrepreneur.” The semantics are changing, but the psychosis hasn’t. 😉

    IMHO, being an entrepreneur means having a deep craving to choose your own working hours…any 18 hours of the day you like.

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