I’m beginning to see a lot of people breaking away from the old way of finding employment with corporations and entering into self-employment. “I’m an entrepreneur” is the new status badge out there. Well, I could live with that. Recently, a friend said to me; “I left a well-paying job to become an entrepreneur. That’s the risk I have to take to be my own boss.”
Who’s an entrepreneur? “Someone who has his own business.” I was told.
The prehistoric man was an entrepreneur. His business was to get enough to eat so he could exchange the rest in a barter trade. My grandmother was an entrepreneur. She planted the maize. Harvested it. Milled it until she could produce kenkey for the market. Her biggest customer was me. I ate 4 balls of kenkey every day. My granny never wore entrepreneurship badge as if it’s some new cool. She was just interested in pushing kenkey down the throats of hungry customers.
Somewhere corporatism took over. People were gathered to work in factories and get paid for their services. Then, office works came along, railway works also came. Sawmill and many corporations came along and tap into individual skills to build their corporation.
Fast forward—everyone is working for organizations instead of themselves. We realized we are being cheated. We’ve realized we are not being paid the worth of our input. Now we want to go back. We want to go back to being self-employed. Being self-employed just like my grandmother used to now has a big name; entrepreneurship. The word itself sounds fun to pronounce. It exudes some kind of elitism but then, anybody with a kiosk and some tin of milk to sell is an entrepreneur and can choose to call herself the CEO of Kiosk by the Street Ventures. That’s not wrong.
Entrepreneurship is gradually coming at the forefront of the minds of Ghanian youths and that’s great. On the other hand, people spreading the ideas of entrepreneurship have somewhat succeeded in spreading myths alongside the truth of becoming an entrepreneurship…
#1. Leaving your job to become an entrepreneur
The headline usually goes like; “He left a well-paying job to pursue this and that.” Mostly, these headlines are made for entrepreneurs who are making waves in the market. The headline makes you think these guys woke up one day and decided to resign from their well-paying jobs so as to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. It makes the idea of becoming an entrepreneur very risky.
That seems to validate the point that “entrepreneurs are risk takers.” What it means is that people who are like me, who don’t want to take such risk will always shy away from becoming entrepreneurs. But the truth is this…
Entrepreneurs. I mean successful entrepreneurs don’t take such risk. They rather manage the risk.
Here is the difference…
Leaving your job to become an entrepreneur is risky. Actually, it’s stupid. You have a job that pays you monthly. That’s security right there. What it means is, all other things being equal, you are assured of receiving consistent income, come what may. Then, you decide to leave that job. That security, and head towards the unknown and uncertain field of being an entrepreneur where you don’t know when, how and where your next paycheck will be coming from.
What if you kept your job and rather did a side job? Doing a side job gives you the opportunity to test your ideas in the market. It also gives you the opportunity to get customers for your side job before you can jump. Until you’re assured of a consistent flow of income from your side job, you don’t quit your main job. Have some security before you quit your main job. That’s called risk management.
When you look at it that way, it becomes easier to leave a salaried job to become an entrepreneur.
#2. Everyone Can Become an Entrepreneur
Not everyone. And that’s good news. If we all become entrepreneurs, owning our own businesses, where will the source of labor come from? Someone will have to help someone to build a dream. But that’s an aside.
Being an entrepreneur is much different from being employed. And some people can’t make that switch. Some people prefer working in a team where they are not the figureheads but rather provide support for team work to thrive. Realistically, we all don’t have the same desires. Some people want anything that promises comfort and stability. When they get that, they have no desire to travel any more miles.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t about comfort and just providing support. It takes more. It takes waking up at dawn and thinking where the next customer is going to come from and how to keep the ones you already have. Sometimes it takes staying up all night and thinking about all the insults you should have given to a customer but you couldn’t because you want their money.
People who crave comfort and security at the expense of managing risk can’t become entrepreneurs.
#3. Being an Entrepreneur is having new great ideas
My grandma sold kenkey. That wasn’t new idea. A lot of people sold kenkey then. Selling kenkey wasn’t any great idea. It’s just one kind of food that didn’t require any great skills to be able to make. She got her cut. She made it just selling kenkey.
It’s true, some companies are founded based on a not-before-heard idea. Most technology companies are like that. But it doesn’t mean you can’t make it doing the usual stuff like providing cleaning services, selling everyday groceries or even providing customized home laundry services. Great ideas are important. Important too is profitable ideas.
You don’t have to think outside the box and come out with something that nobody has ever heard or seen before. You only need proven ideas backed by a model that works. Thinking outside the box is even riskier.
#4. You can’t be rich while working for someone
This is usually said to encourage people to take up entrepreneurship instead of remaining employees. While it sounds true on a face value, it can’t remain true when subjected to proof. Yes, the rich people we know are business owners. People who can afford the luxuries of life are mostly investment gurus but we shouldn’t be carried away thinking wealth comes from ownership of businesses.
There are rich employees. Think Sheryl Sandberg. She’s a billionaire. She made her billions working for Facebook and she’s still working for Facebook. Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple Inc. He works for someone and he’s worth Billions. There are many such examples in the world today.
Sometimes you don’t have to go away. You don’t have to run to become an entrepreneur to be rich. Make yourself indispensable in the organization that works for. Be an idea machine. churn out awesome ideas that can propel the company you are working for into greater heights. You’ll get your cut. If you are a better negotiator, you can trade your ideas for shares in the company. As the company grows, so is your wealth.
Be that guy.
#5. Don’t share your ideas, it might be stolen
James Altucher says; “Too many people try to hold onto ideas, saying, “It’s mine!” Most entrepreneurs keep their ideas onto their chest thinking people will rob them of the idea when they get to know. Having an idea isn’t the end. So many people have ideas. Some are able to make their ideas flourish. Others, their ideas die because they kept it out of the sunshine. Trees establish their root when in the sunshine.
You share your ideas with people. Then you get like-minded people to work with to ensure the prosperity of your ideas. You can have a beautiful idea but it might take someone to give feet to your idea. So they can walk. A walking idea is worth everything.
James continues, “but ideas and the world get stronger when they are shared and allowed to mate and grow children and the idea babies make the world better.”
Allow your ideas to mate with other ideas and make bastard babies. That’s alright.
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