Posted at 1:25 AM on September 24th, 2009 by Alex
Why be an entrepreneur?
If you caught my earlier post, you read that I’m currently in the middle of a pretty big career shift from full-time free-lancer, to full-fledged entrepreneur. But why? What are the benefits? What’s in it for us entrepreneurs?
Before anything, let’s get one thing straight: if you’re doing it for the money, go elsewhere. Sure: every once in a while someone gets lucky with an idea and strikes it rich. But this is a possibility very different from the norm. The vast majority of entrepreneurs spend years of their life barely scraping by before even getting to a level of income that stops the debt from accumulating. Most entrepreneurs make substantially less than they would have made as an employee, and even those who eventually do strike it rich take decades to get to that point.
So if it isn’t the money, what is it?
#1) It’s a way to be leave your mark.
Even though we threw the whole selfish monetary gain thing out of the equation, you still stand to get some other recognition for making your biz go. IF you form a successful business, that probably means you’re finding a significant need somewhere and meeting it. Well, that need you recognized and fix you came up with could be YOUR legacy. To your children, your community, and whoever else. If you’re successful, you could definitely be looking forward to some media coverage, and maybe even an award or two. It’s OK to recognize the shallow selfish benefits as long as you see the big picture too. (That is, don’t start a company solely in hopes that you’ll be on the front-page of the paper… just be happy when you see your picture.)
#2) It’s a way to change and expand yourself.
In my last post, I gave out another one of my kooky theories on life: If you want to get more great ideas, you have to do something with the great ideas you already have. Call it satisfying the muse, call it Karma, or just call it coincidence - no matter what the reason, this is exactly how things seem to work. If you want your ideas to keep flowing, you have to make sure the old ones don’t go un-noticed or without value.
But that’s only one way you’ll be changing and expanding yourself. Entrepreneurship isn’t as much a career as it is a way of life: to an entrepreneur, their business ideas and execution are everything. They start seeing the world through the lens of their business, of risk management, of leadership skills, and CERTAINLY of the idealistic goals and dreams that led them to acting on their business idea in the first place. Living the life of an entrepreneur will teach you to overcome your fears, to stand firm during pressure, and to stay positive in the direst of situations. And if you have the thrill-seeking gene, you might need a good entrepreneurial challenge to keep you out of mischief
#3) It’s a way to change your community, and (possibly) the world.
Everyone has heard the old parable: “Bring a man a fish, and he’ll eat plentifully for one day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat plentifully for the rest of his life.” Another way to say it is this: The only way to make real change in the world around you is if that change is economically sustainable. Replace that with your idea: what would a world look like where your plan could happen continually, because it was part of a profitable business capable of sustaining itself? Would that world be better place to it’s inhabitants? If so, you might have an idea worth pursuing.
Before you decide whether or not these benefits would be worth it, stay tuned for another list — the next one of a few of the not-so-desirable results of becoming an entrepreneur.