A couple of weeks ago I tasked myself with writing this post. Unlike my recent musings on business cards, the idea didn’t spring full-formed from something that had happened, but was instead a question I personally wanted an answer to.
Is it possible to become an entrepreneur overnight? By that, I mean, is there a switch you can flick? And if so, how do you do it?
Prior to writing this post, I had always been under the impression that “entrepreneurship” was hardwired into a person. You either had what it took to become one or you didn’t.
Through thinking and writing I’ve not only been able to correct my inaccurate assumption, but have been able to answer the question. I’ve seen entrepreneurship for what it is—nothing more than a switch. A switch than anyone can flip at any time, providing they’ve got what it takes.
Let me show you how the entrepreneurship switch might be flicked. I will follow these three examples with a list of ingredients I believe essential to the “make up” of an entrepreneur.
Example One—The young and crazy serial entrepreneur
I have a friend—let’s call him Mike—who has been in and out of the business of starting businesses since graduating high school. His first company was an import-export operation, run mostly online. With little experience and almost no business know-how, it wasn’t long before the business tanked. With anyone less blinkered, this might have deterred them from another venture. Not Mike—is experience had flicked a switch. He’d caught the entrepreneurship bug and there was no going back. Full-time employment held little interest for him, and although he worked in a couple of jobs before starting his own digital agency, he was always scheming and launching side operations—some that worked for a while, others that didn’t, and still others that he simply lost interest in. However, there was no doubt about it: with his drive, and with a passion for starting out on his own, sooner or later he was bound to succeed. Today, not 4 years after we first met, Mike is running his own digital agency. His clients include Coca-Cola, Blackberry, and other big names. No one would argue that he is not an entrepreneur, but they might have done two years ago when in the midst of a half-thought out insurance venture. The truth is, Mike became an overnight entrepreneur the moment he started his first business. He had desire, he took action and even though he perpetually failed through taking risks, he learned and he adapted. There’s just no going back for him.
Example Two—The entrepreneur that needs a little push
Molly has been working the same job for going on eight years. She’s done well and has risen in her company. She’s still being “managed,” but now has others who report to her. She considers herself a fairer boss than the one who directs her day-to-day activities. In fact, over the past 6 months, Molly has had to actively stop herself from getting into arguments with her boss. There are just things she believes should be executed differently; for example Molly believes in a work-life balance. Her boss does not. Molly’s boss has some very old-school notions, and thinks that if you’re going to get ahead in life you should stay two hours later than your colleagues and you should work on weekends. Face-time is all that matters to her.
Not Molly. Molly gets that pursuing outside interests is important to personal happiness and can actually bring new ideas into the company. Then of course, there’s her boss’s stance on relationships at work—a definite no-no! Molly finds herself thinking that if she were the manager, she’d do so many things differently. One day, she comes into work and is told that if she is going to wear jeans, they need to at least be black. They shouldn’t look like jeans. The switch flips. Molly realizes she cannot work like this forever. She will never be truly happy following petty rules or being told what to do. She’s tired of helping others achieve their dreams. She like to take a stab at achieving her own. Over the next few months, she continues to work her day-job. In the evenings she heads to the SBA, she speaks with her bank about start up loans and she begins setting up her business. Then, when she is ready, she hands in her resignation. Molly is an entrepreneur. She became one the moment her desire prompted her to take action.