Ask Yourself this Before You Become An Entrepreneur
I dived into entrepreneurship 8 years ago and before I did, I must admit, I didn’t know much about it at all. I’d been an employee for 6–7 years in various roles ranging from the large multi-national to the 7 person startup. I thought ‘I’ve got enough experience, how hard could it be to have my own business?’.
I know you seasoned entrepreneurs will laugh, as I do now when never-before-entrepreneurs tell me ‘I’m thinking of starting my own business, I want to be rich and have all my time to myself’.
Despite my varied experience and even having worked in a startup, nothing could prepare me for the absolute rollercoaster that was entrepreneurship. The highs, the lows, the learning curve so steep it sometimes felt like climbing a brick wall.
There are so many lessons to be learned and so many areas of growth, but one question presented itself very early on. It can define whether you’re ready to jump in or not and answering it honestly could prepare you for years of growth or save you from years of hardship.
Which do I value more? Security or Freedom?
The underlying implication of entrepreneurship is one of uncertainty.
When you’re an employee you have a regular set paycheck coming in, in exchange for you performing a set list of responsibilities. Some days you may end up working longer hours, some days you might be able to work from home or knock off early, but you know how much money is coming in at the end of the month.
With this knowledge you can plan your life. You know how much you have to pay rent, how much you can save and how much you have left over to have fun. Your job won’t require you to do too much outside of the scope of your core responsibilities; you’ll learn within that scope but you won’t need to push yourself too far outside it.
In entrepreneurship you flip these two principles.
You don’t know how much money is coming at the end of the month. In the beginning it’s very unlikely you’ll make any money at all. You’ll be building, grafting, networking, spending, and any money you do make will likely be reinvested back into the business.
You won’t have one role, you’ll have many. You’ll be overseeing the business and be chief marketer, seller, networker, hirer, firer. You don’t know how many hours you’ll need to spend work and most likely will spend all the hours god sends in trying to build your empire.
This is the main difference between employee and entrepreneur. An employee has a sense of security. The entrepreneur, at least in the beginning, does not. What the entrepreneur does have, though, is control over their own time. This requires discipline, but their time is their own, the employee’s time is not.
The security of the employee has a limit. An employee can only make so much within a certain amount of time and has to work a certain amount of prescribed hours, but that security is evident from the start.
The security of the entrepreneur always has the potential to be in question. It’s not always certain when the next paycheck is coming in or when a big client might not be a client anymore. The limits of startup success lie far more within the hands of the entrepreneur; the scope of success is far wider for the entrepreneur than it will ever be for the employee.
The difference is in the work and the discipline.
The entrepreneur sacrifices immediate and transparent security for the freedom to choose what they want for themselves. There won’t be much of a choice in the beginning; a startup requires all of the work you can put in and then some. It requires ingenuity, the ability to weather sh*t situations, the fortitude to keep pushing when nothing seems to be coming back, the personal strength to deal with the inherent uncertainty.
An entrepreneur trades the security an employee has for the potential of almost unlimited return and freedom in the future.
Having said all this though, it’s possible to adapt to uncertainty and get used to relying on your own ability to survive. I personally found this the best way of doing it; when I was backed into a corner I was forced to find a way out. Your problem solving circuits kick into overdrive and you realise then what you’re truly capable of. I learnt so much more about myself as an entrepreneur than I ever did as an employee.
The human craves security but is also built to learn, adapt, survive and thrive. When you’re pushed hard enough, you’ll learn what you’re made of.
So before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, ask yourself, what do you value more, security or freedom?