People tell me all the time they want to do their own thing, launch their own business and become their own boss. They want to quit their job, tell their boss to stuff it and chart their own course in the world. And frankly, I am the first one to say "go for it". I did just that 17 years ago on May 6, 1999, and never regretted that decision. I left the cushy corporate job, guaranteed pay cheque, not-so-bad bonus - gave it all up to go out on my own. But no one told me that creating my own destiny and hanging out my own shingle would mean giving up so many of the comforts I was used to and expected.
Going from corporate keener to lone crusader takes more than courage and vision, it takes a new form of motivation, a new way of working; relying solely on yourself to get things done. When you decide to strike it out on your own, nothing even remotely resembles your corporate gig. Basically, your world has lost its safety net - until you create it again.
If entrepreneurship is beckoning you away from that corner office, take my advice and consider whether the following applies to you before you take the plunge.
If any of these apply, you may want to revisit your endeavour:
1. You can't sell. This is a HUGE problem. Sorry to break it to you, but if you can't personally do the heavy lifting of selling, asking for the contract, negotiating the terms, persuading - or in the words of Jerry Maguire - "show me the money," then reconsider doing your own thing. You are the sales team.
2. You can't take rejection well. The personal anthem of entrepreneurs is hearing the word "no". You will be rejected, told to get lost, we don't want you and you suck. And you know what? You are unfazed by it all and it only propels you to prove them all wrong, turn a no into a yes and plow forward. If you can't be resilient and take some knocks to the ego, then reconsider the move.
3. The unknown is too unknown. Stability and entrepreneurship are not bedfellows. Whether it's euphoria, drama, crisis, feast or famine, the unknown is part and parcel of becoming an entrepreneur. Every day is a winding road, and there is no HR or saved up pension plan to bail you out. At the end of the day, your path is your vision and your competitors are kicking the crap out of it all the time. So if your world is ruled by a neatly typed up "to do" list, then you are not cut out for the great unknown.
4. You can't be an asshole. I know what you're thinking, "but I'm a nice guy". Entrepreneurs do not play that nice and are not in business to suffer fools around them. We are not governed by democratic thinking or to make everyone around us happy (think Steve Jobs). We make linear decisions that are solely focused on our business, while our big thinking is constantly abstract. We are not here to make popular decisions. Entrepreneurs are born to make the right decisions. If you are too much of a people pleaser, your vision is compromised.
5. You can't be all in. There is no such thing as a hybrid entrepreneur, there is no bluffing in this game. Entrepreneurs are the last bastion where the meaning of "all in" really means something (Elon Musk personifies this). Just like you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't dip your toe into entrepreneurial waters and still hold down your full-time gig. To be a true entrepreneur you have to be committed. You have to go big or stay put: bet the house, farm, savings, family, RRSP, your grandma's Royal Doulton collection; it's all part of the risk. If you can't fully commit to your endeavour you must stand down. Feeling pressure to make your own business successful is the rocket fuel driving us forward. Go ahead and burn the bridge, it's ok. It helps to light your path to the future.
Still ready for entrepreneurial waters?
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