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No. 621 / Thoughts on entrepreneurship (why I've changed my mind)

When I started this blog, I originally had intentions to make it a documentary (of sorts) about my journey toward becoming an entrepreneur. I was in love with the idea of owning my own business, calling the shots, and then teaching others how I did it.

I explored lots of ideas: an SEO company, a few app ideas, created some automatic light switch prototypes, did career coaching for a while, dabbled in starting a design studio and, of course, kept a running list ‘business ideas.’ During these formative years, I was in sales. So as long as I hit my number, I could hide. Hide behind the wall that divides great employees from good ones. Because that’s what I was, a good employee. I came on time, did my work, hit my number, went home. But my mind was elsewhere…always fixed on the next big thing. I’m realizing now, I didn’t really fully engage in my work in the moment like I could have because I was, instead, choosing tomorrow.

I was in search of greener pastures, inspired by the podcasts I was listening to and books I was reading. I wasn’t lacking time, resources or even passion, things just didn’t work out. So I kept chugging along at my day job—forever dissatisfied because I wasn’t ‘making an impact’ or ‘putting a dent in the universe.’

Then, I got into recruiting. I started to see (and continue to witness on a daily basis) the value of a great employee, and I’ve started to change my tune a bit.

Entrepreneurship isn’t the end all be all. It’s certainly not for everybody—and it shouldn’t be! The world needs brilliant minds to think up new ideas, push innovation forward, and traverse uncharted territory. But it also desperately needs incredible employees—workers that believe in these missions, take ownership over the projects and work as if it was their idea.

Entrepreneurship is so romanticized these days. And, maybe, rightfully so. We love a good underdog story. But, to use an analogy, entrepreneurs are like the quarterbacks of a football team. They’re the stars of the show and get all of the credit when they win, but also the blame when they lose. Employees are like the linemen (or skilled players, or maybe even the front office), you don’t necessarily recognize the good ones while they’re there but you’ll absolutely miss their presence when they’re gone.

Here’s the thing, most of my icons are still entrepreneurs. I communicate with some of them, follow lots of them and gain valuable insight from all of them. But it’s no longer my goal to become an entrepreneur. And this shouldn’t come across as ‘disappointing’ or that I’m ‘giving up on my dreams.’ THIS is the point! Why can’t my ‘dream’ be to become a trusted advisor in career development and building a better workplace? Why can’t it be to help build out a remarkable recruiting process at my current employment? Why can’t it be to become a mentor, coach, and friend with my colleagues and others I come in contact with?

Entrepreneurship isn’t synonymous with leadership. You can be a leader in any capacity. But you can’t lead in two different directions. If you choose entrepreneurship, be an entrepreneur. If you choose Learning and Development Specialist at a startup, be the best one out there. Whatever you do, don’t keep one foot out the door. Either come inside and make yourself at home or go find other doors that need opening.

Wealth, to me, means living the kind of lifestyle you want to live and being able to do so without health or financial restrictions. You define the kind of life you want to live. For many, that means lazy Saturdays sitting on the porch drinking lemonade, for others, it’s a new speaking gig every weekend. Will becoming an entrepreneur give you the kind of lifestyle (and wealth) you are looking for? Because the reality of the situation is even if your business is making a million bucks a year your corporate salary is still probably more than you’d be taking home as a business owner. Another thing, you think 50-60 hours of work per week is a lot now? Wait until you become an entrepreneur where 60 hours/week seems like a walk in the park.

I get it, for some, entrepreneurship is just an itch they have to scratch. It’s in their DNA. But consider your situation from a broader perspective. There are lots of ways to make an impact. You can have the kind of influence you desire through a plethora of different means. You can accumulate wealth using countless strategies with almost any job title.

There is more than one way to change the world. Whatever that looks like for you, you probably won’t have to go very far to find it.