Many of us dream of having our own company or at least working for ourselves. Let’s face it, how liberating would it be to not have to report to the “man” day in and day out? Well, while that might sound all fine and dandy, it’s quite another thing in practice. We’re in the fortunate business that we get to counsel many aspiring entrepreneurs before they take the big leap. Our advice? Simple; don’t do it. Well, don’t do it for the wrong reasons at least.
Outlined below are five reasons you should NOT become an entrepreneur; which account for 90% of the reasons people want to become one. However, we then follow this up with five reasons you should take the plunge. Ready? Let’s get started.
Reasons against becoming an entrepreneur
You want to be rich. Going into business because you want to make loads of money is just a bad idea. Truth be told, making money on your own is an extremely hard and volatile venture. And if you think it’s a good return on investment, that’s just bad math. Most businesses fail within a few years and those that do make it often take years to become profitable. Plus, for the first few years don’t expect to take a check. Total up all of the above and the phrases “starving artist” and “struggling musician” start to make sense. So if you’re motivated by money, you’re far better off being a banker, investor or consultant or something.
You hate your boss. If you think that getting rid of your boss frees you up from having to report to anyone, think again. Every CEO of a major company still has a boss. They are called the Board of Directors, shareholders and customers. So when you become the CEO, all you really do is just trade one boss for thousands more (e.g. customers). And guess what? Customers are some pretty demanding folk.
You want to work less. People often tell us that they want to work for themselves because they want to spend more time with their kids or family. Okay. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. In reality you will get “flex time” but in the form of you picking any 24 hours of the day to work your tail off. Over time a successful entrepreneur may work less than they did in Corporate America, but this often takes many years to accomplish. In the beginning, you will be responsible for making everything happen.
You like the idea of control. Some individuals are enamored with power. Titles, money, expensive toys etc. exemplify this for these individuals. What it’s really like: everyone else is your boss – all of your employees, customers, partners, users, media are your boss. On top of that, there is very little control in a business. Things are constantly happening and needing to be addressed. What’s worse is that if you’re one who likes predictability, you will soon find yourself pulling your hair out. Entrepreneurship is far from predictable.
You want to get rid of the stress of corporate life. Sure, reporting to a demanding boss is stressful. So is figuring out how your going to negotiate a line of credit to keep the company open 20 more weeks while you wait on that Federal Government vendor payment to come in. The reality is that we make our own stresses and they follow us. Building a business is cool but it involves a lot of work. So if you’re trying to escape for stress reasons, you may want to reconsider.
Okay, so now that we’ve got that covered, why should you take the plunge to head up your own endeavor? Follow us please.
Reasons for becoming an entrepreneur
You’ve identified an unfulfilled market space. Most ideas that come to market tend to be slight modifications of existing concepts. This is not to say that we don’t derive benefit from what they provide, it’s just that it’s not earth shattering (e.g. ATMs vs. a personal banker). However, if you have figured out a new concept that isn’t being used by your competitors and can truly cause a paradigm shift, therein lies a market opportunity (think Segway). And where opportunity and demand intersect, money is often made.
You are passionate about something. A good friend of ours always says that you shouldn’t go to college to major in what you love, but what you can find a job in. While that is good financial advice, it’s not the best advice for those seeking to run their own show. You see, we’re big believers that passion carries a lot of weight and can take you places that “doing a good job” simply can’t.
Take Tony Robbins for example. While many will say that Tony isn’t extremely talented and he didn’t go to college, few will argue that he hasn’t made himself a household name. How did he do it? By taking the bull by the horns so to speak and forging his own way. That takes a lot of guts giving how hard this entrepreneurship journey tends to be. But if you have passion, good things tend to follow; which is typically a result of how hard you are willing to work and the lengths which you are will to strive to make your dream a reality.
You’ve figured out a better way to do something. Capitalistic societies are cool in the sense that if you have an idea that can improve life in some fashion, you can probably do well financially. Thus, if you have a concept or product that will truly change the way things are done (e.g. powering cars off water vs. gasoline); you should by all means go for it.
You want to make a difference in society. This world is full of individuals and companies that just want to make a quick buck. The ones that are truly great are those that want to make things better. Back in the day Ben & Jerry’s was one of the pioneers of the now common “Corporate Responsibility” movement. But some companies such as One Laptop Per Child (see them in this article) take it a step further in trying to improve situations, people, socioeconomic groups and the like. So if you are trying to make things better and you can make a little coin in the process, by all means be our guest.
You just can’t live your life any other way. Sometimes you will hear people say that they weren’t meant to go to college, or work inside an office, or work for someone else. If you truly thrive in working in an entrepreneurial environment, then it’s probably best that you become one. Yet, the keyword here is thrive. Whenever you find a situation that lets you be the best that you can be, you should embrace it. Whether it’s your job, hobbies or love interest; when you find something that fits perfectly, don’t attempt to resist it. Often times, you will regret it if you do.
“Do what you love. The money will follow!”