I used to dream of becoming an entrepreneur, and that was all I ever thought it would be -- a dream.
It seemed like a glorious and unattainable thing, and I never believed I would have what it takes to pull it off. I deeply admired, and was envious of, those people who were entrepreneurs, but I always just assumed that was for other people -- not for me.
I confirmed this belief about myself with stories (aka. excuses) of not enough; it was either that I wasn't knowledgeable or skilled enough, I didn't have enough money, I didn't have enough experience, or I didn't have a clear enough vision of what I wanted to do.
Yes, I had excuses coming out of my arse!
In the meantime, I was hopping around from job-to-job -- jobs that were deemed "cool" by my friends -- yet I was never satisfied, motivated, or inspired by them.
Through my experience, one thing I've come to realize is that our job doesn't have to suck, or we don't have to be unemployed with no other options, to be driven to start our own business.
Some of us are just meant to start our own business and we won't feel satisfied doing anything else; we feel called to create something of our own, because even if we're doing work where we feel we're being of service to others and the world (as I was for years in the non-profit sector), we still don't feel fulfilled if we're working under somebody else's creation.
For myself, I became aware of my dissatisfaction (made very apparent by my hopping around from job-to-job), and my excitement around becoming an entrepreneur eventually outweighed my excuses. I started a couple of businesses that didn't succeed, until eventually my passion & excitement led me to one that did.
I now help people to cut out that trial-and-error phase to save time & money, by getting clear on a business that will work for them (and is a perfect blend of all their passions, skills & expertise) the first time around.
Sometimes, I work with people and they decide that starting their own business isn't actually what they want -- and that's a success, too! They by-pass spending all the time and money they would have on starting their own business, and they can go back to their job (or a new one!) with a new satisfaction & contentment about where they are.
So here's the deal: being an entrepreneur isn't for everyone.
This isn't groundbreaking news, and most of us are aware of this truth on some level or another.
This then begs the question... how does one know if being an entrepreneur is right for them? How can you know if you should start your own business?
In this 2-part blog series, I'll be answering this very question so you can put your mind at ease and get clear on whether or not being an entrepreneur is right for YOU.
If you're questioning how to know if you should start your own business, you might be wondering things like...
• Would people actually want to hire me or buy my product?
• Could I ever do sales (and not totally suck at them!?)?
• Would I be organized enough? Efficient enough? Committed enough?
• Would I follow through on the things I start?
• Would I feel motivated to do the work?
• Where the heck would I start?
• Could I really pull it off?
In this 2-part blog series, I'll be outlining 3 things to help you out with these questions.
We'll take a look at:
• The 6 signs you are absolutely NOT cut out to be an entrepreneur.
• The 8 signs you most definitely ARE cut out to be an entrepreneur.
• Where to start once you do decide you are cut out to start your own business.
So let's begin!
The 6 Signs you are most definitely NOT Cut Out to Be an Entrepreneur
1. Your ideal life would be if you won the lottery & spent every day hanging out at the beach.
In Sonja Lyubomirsky's book, The Myth's of Happiness, she discusses the major myth that many of us hold when it comes to happiness, which is this: "If ________, then ________."
For example, some people might think, "If I win the lottery, then I'll be happy", or "If I move to a hot, tropical place, then I'll be happy".
The truth is, while we do receive a temporary rise in happiness from such external events, that's not where happiness lies. And it's no secret that for us humans, where happiness does lie is in finding some sort of meaning/purpose for our lives.
Not only does meaning/purpose give us greater happiness, it also gives us grand amounts of motivation, (and according to Viktor Frankl's masterpiece, Man's Search for Meaning, it can even give us the motivation to survive when we are in the most hell-ish of situations).
Motivation is essential to the success of any entrepreneur; to be an entrepreneur, one must be motivated to a make a difference. Yes, many entrepreneurs want to make lots of money, but most businesses that thrive do so because the people who started them also wanted to make an impact & add value to the world in some way.
2. You don't like having to make decisions.
Some people enjoy being directed & told what to do; they don't like to take initiative, or to make decisions... and that's totally ok! It can be nice to have someone outline what you need to complete, and to keep things simple & straightforward so you can forget about them when you go home at the end of the day.
However, it's essential for an entrepreneur to be a decision-maker & initiative-taker, so they can quickly take action on their ideas and make them happen.
If you feel that you fall more in the category of 'directee' rather than 'director', it might mean you're not cut out to be an entrepreneur.
However, before jumping to any conclusions about your entrepreneurial abilities, it's important to consider all types of contexts for this one; often, people find that they're a self-starter in certain situations, while happily receiving direction in others.
For example, when I was working in different jobs before running my business full-time, I typically took less initiative than the other people I worked with -- I just wanted to be told what to do so I could get it done and get out of there! I was the classic "tell-me-what-to-do-and-that's-all-I'll-do" employee.
Conversely, when I'm running my own business, I implement new things & make(often significant) decisions on a daily basis! I'm frequently acknowledged by others for how self-motivated I am, yet for years in my jobs, I didn't feel that way.
So get clear on WHEN you are a decision-maker (or not) before tossing your entrepreneurial dreams to the wind; because you just might surprise yourself.
3. You highly value security & predictability in your life.
While some might argue that the life of an employee merely gives the illusion of greater security, and entrepreneurship simply embraces it, that perspective changes depending upon who you talk to.
Regardless, most of us will agree that the entrepreneurial journey is highly uncertain, and there is only one thing any new business owner can know for sure: the journey is destined to be unpredictable and lacking security (aka. no secure pay cheques, steady working hours, or medical/dental coverage).
If you highly value security when it comes to knowing how much money you are going to make, and predicting what your life will look like in the future, it's likely that entrepreneurship is not for you at this time.
On the other hand, if you have the ability to embrace uncertainty, and to view the journey as an adventure, rather than a struggle (especially in the first 3-5 years)... then saddle up!
4. You would never be friends with someone in the circus.
If you'd never be friends with someone in the circus, or talk to the homeless man on the street, or give a high five to the crazy lady at the coffee shop, chances are you identify more with being "normal" than "weird". You've likely always felt pretty comfortable in your own skin, and you've never really had any serious trouble fitting in.
It is the embracing of our own differences (which naturally leads to us embracing the differences of others), that gives us the need to differentiate ourselves in our work, and create something that truly represents who we are. We all have these differences and points of uniqueness -- it's just a matter of whether or not we choose to really embrace them.
So if you crave to be normal, would never be friends with someone in the circus, and quiver at the thought of standing out, then chances are you're not destined to be an entrepreneur at this point in your life.
5. You aren't really into personal growth or self-exploration.
Starting a business can be challenging at times, and it can bring things up where one really has to look at oneself in the mirror - often at many different angles - and one might not like what they see.
Fortunately, challenges don't have to be a bad thing. In fact, to me, they are what makes the entrepreneurial life so gosh-darn exciting and worthwhile. The amount of personal growth that can come from the challenges of running your own business is profound.
However, the opportunity to grow spiritually & emotionally from these challenges is not inherent to business, and so certain practices for personal growth and reflection must be put into place. This is why having an interest in self-exploration is important to the persistence and success of any business-owner.
(To learn more about this, you can check out an article I recently had published in Eat Live Life on '5 Ways Running your Own Business Can Be a Spiritual Practice').
If you tend to view challenges as something to be avoided at all costs, and you aren't into reflecting, learning & growing from the adversities you face in life, then chances are the entrepreneurial path is not your cup of tea.
6. You like immediate gratification.
Running a business can sometimes entail months of behind-the-scenes work before one sees any type of reward (and even then, a reward isn't guaranteed).
The first time I ran a group program online, I spent about 3 months behind the scenes putting it all together, and I received $1,000 in earnings; from what I know, this story is pretty common. In fact, one business coach I worked with always told us: "The first time you do something, you're going to suck."
This is why it is often emphasized how important it is to have persistence as a business owner; a high level of persistence - especially when one is just starting out - is key to being successful over the long-term, and a need for immediate gratification is likely to kill that persistence.
Many people pursue the life of an entrepreneur so they can set their own hours, live & work from anywhere, help people & make money at the same time; however, being an entrepreneur can be incredibly challenging, and it might take several years (for many people it's as many as 5+ years), before things really start to click.
A lot of people give up on their business dreams before getting to that point, and end up back in the traditional career grind, disillusioned by the idea of entrepreneurship. That's likely because they came into entrepreneurship under the illusion that they would easily become an overnight success -- and who can blame people for having this illusion!
There are countless numbers of people on the Internet promoting how they became overnight successes. For myself, I too was confused as to why I was not seeing success sooner in my business when I first started out for this very reason. What I've now come to learn is that while overnight successes DO exist, often times, the success stories we are seeing fail to mention the years of back-work, trial-and-error, mistakes, and unsuccessful ventures that led to these "overnight successes".
In conclusion:If you've found that you DON'T fit most of the traits listed above, then chances are high that you're cut out to be an entrepreneur (woo hoo!).
If you're still wanting greater clarity on whether or not being an entrepreneur is right for you (and/or where to start with a business), I invite you to check out Part II of this blog series.
In Part II of this blog series on how to know if you should start your own business, you'll learn the 8 signs you definitely ARE cut out to be an entrepreneur, and how to get started with your business if you do decide it's right for you.
Here's to rocking our purpose in the way that works best for us,