Jul 112017
 
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Being An Entrepreneur Is The Only Way To Control Your Destiny

One of the perks of being an entrepreneur is that you control your own destiny.

Well, sort of.

In reality, regardless of what you do to make a living, there will be factors beyond your control. Those factors may, of course, have an impact on your destiny.

When compared with other ways to make a living, though, it’s hard to find options that give you as much control as being an entrepreneur.

If, for example, you work for someone else, your destiny is largely in that person’s or that organization’s hands. The reality is that tomorrow, or even a minute from now, your employer could notify you that your services are no longer needed.

Your employer may tell you this because you’re not doing a good job, over which you do have a large degree of control, of course.

However, they may also tell you that your services are no longer needed due to all sorts of other factors.

For example, your job may be “offshored” or outsourced to some other place in the world. Or, due to no fault of your own, and perhaps even due to no fault of your employer, the company’s sales may be declining and the company may no longer be able to afford to have you on the payroll.

So, how is being an entrepreneur different in terms of controlling your own destiny?

Well, in some ways it’s very different, and in other ways, it’s similar to working for someone else.

Let’s look at the differences and similarities.

When you are an entrepreneur (i.e. self-employed, as a simplified definition in this article — I realize there are varying views on the definition of “entrepreneur”), you’ll see the following “control” differences and similarities, compared to working for someone else:

  • You control your schedule. Your employer doesn’t control your schedule, at least, as you do not have an employer other than yourself. That said, you do have all sorts of constituencies that will have an impact on your schedule, including customers, investors, partners, employees, service providers, etc. So, in a nutshell, you’ve traded your employer for a series of other “bosses”.
  • You control how much you make. In reality, how well your company does controls how much you make. So, you can’t just say I want to be paid a million dollars per year and the money shows up on your doorstep. You have to be strategic and you have to be willing to work hard, but the good news is that if you work hard enough for a million dollars to come in, you’ll likely be keeping a lot more of it (with controlled expenses) than you would have if you were on someone else’s payroll.
  • You control how hard you work. Well, to be clear, you largely control how hard you work if you’re working for someone else, too. Once you become accustomed to being an entrepreneur, though, you realize that you don’t mind putting in long hours when it’s for your bottom line and not for someone else’s.
  • You control your stress level. Again, regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, you are in charge of controlling your stress level. As an entrepreneur, you may have a bit more flexibility in structuring your schedule and your activities, so that you’re better able to manage your stress level. However, in many cases, since you’re the “chief cook and bottle washer” (i.e. the buck stops with your for everything), often your stress level will actually go up relative to what it was as an employee.  As with hard work, though, you’ll likely not mind more stress so much when it’s for your business, rather than for your employer’s business.
  • You control whom you work with. This may be one of the biggest perks of being an entrepreneur, especially when you reach a level of success that gives you some flexibility. You have the last say on who works at your company, the customers you do business with, the service providers you use, etc. This is very liberating! It gives you the opportunity to only work with and help people that you like. This isn’t true for all businesses, of course – if you have a retail business dealing with the public, for example, you may not like every customer that walks through the door. If you own a service business, on the other hand, you typically can “fire” (or never “hire”) clients who you don’t want to help, for most any reason.
  • You control what happens when you retire. This assumes, of course, that you’ve built a business that can survive without your presence. If you haven’t, then the business will close when you decide you’re done. If you have, then you’ll be able to retire knowing that your business will continue to serve others, in the hands of the subsequent owners. It’s satisfying to know that you’ve built a business that not only provided for you and your family, but also that will continue to serve customers into the future, and may even continue to support your family, depending who the subsequent owners are and how the deal is structured when you sell your business.
  • You control whether you get fired. Bringing the story back to the beginning of this article, where we talked about the fact that your employer can fire you at any time, being an entrepreneur is no panacea in this regard. Subject to the terms of your agreement, clients can also “fire” you at any time. That said, for your sake, I hope that you will not have just one client or just one customer! If you build a diversified set of customer and clients, then if just one fires you, your business is not done. The same cannot be said for the situation where your (one) employer fires you – in that case, your “business” is done and you must find another job.

This list could go on, but you get the idea: As an entrepreneur, you have more control over your destiny.

That does not mean that things get easier than when you’re an employee, but it does mean that you are in charge – and you get all the good and bad things that come with being the head honcho. The sky is the limit, but the downside is yours as well. If that works for you, then being an entrepreneur is absolutely the way to go!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

 

 

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Oct 132011
 
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Entrepreneurship can be lonely

Being An Entrepreneur Can Be Lonely

As much as I love being an entrepreneur, it can be a lonely endeavor.  My time as an entrepreneur, since I was a young kid, and my time working with entrepreneurs over the course of my career, have taught me that being the one in charge can make you feel very alone.  Sometimes it feels like you’re on an island.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur in a one-person company or a CEO in a larger company, if you are the final decision maker, it’s easy to feel like it’s you against the world.

Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news on this.  First, the bad news:  it’s not likely to change.  If you’re the person upon whose shoulders rests final decision making authority, it’s virtually impossible not to feel sometimes like all the pressure is on you and you’re on “an island”.  Now, the good news:  there are tons of other entrepreneurs and CEO types out there who feel exactly the same way!  So, while it’s often unavoidable that you will feel alone in your role at your own company, there are plenty of other people who are in exactly the same boat.  That’s good news, because if you can find ways to link up with them, you can share your war stories, feel less alone, and learn from and support one another!

Let’s talk about some ways of linking up with other entrepreneurs and CEO types.  Here’s a quick list.  It’s not meant to be all-inclusive, but I hope it will give you some ideas.  The options range from free and not time-intensive, to relatively costly and much more time-consuming.  The options typically are not mutually-exclusive, so select whichever ones you like and give them a try.  Depending on a variety of factors, including your personality, your schedule and your objectives, certain options will be more appealing to you than others.

Here are some ways to link up with and interact with other entrepreneurs and CEOs, locally and online:

Social Media

  • Twitter:  Search on hashtags, such as #smallbiz #startup #entrepreneur #sme #ceo and others that are relevant to the persons with whom you’d like to interact.  Send out your own tweets and others will react to you as well.  Also, look for tweet “chats” that occur periodically on particular subjects.  It’s true that Twitter is only 140 characters and you can’t say much in a tweet, but you can include a URL link and you can use the brief Twitter interaction as a bridge to further communication via phone, email or other media.
  • Facebook:  I used to view Facebook as a huge “time sink” and to a certain extent, I still do.  It has an enormous number of users though, and thus, cannot be ignored.  Also, with the advent of Pages and with the exceptional utility of Groups, it can be a great tool.  Just be sure to stay focused on your objectives, in this case, interacting with other entrepreneurs and CEOs and don’t get sucked into a lot of the “shiny object,” time wasting activities that such a platform also offers.
  • LinkedIn:  This is the social network that tends to have a very high percentage of business people and professionals.  Like the others, it also has groups, so it can be a great place to interact with other entrepreneurs and CEOs.  It can also be extremely useful for finding and maintaining contact with former colleagues and acquaintances, which represents another way to combat the loneliness of entrepreneurship.
  • Other networks:  There are a ton of other social networks and platforms!  I try to stick to a short list though, because otherwise you could end up spending far too much time on these sites and activities.  I encourage you to explore others, then pick a few that give you the most bang for your buck, and for your time.

Local Networking Groups

  • This is an area where, again, you could end up spending way too much time, without a huge amount of benefit.  There’s the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and dozens more.  The best idea here is to experiment with a few groups, but don’t commit to any until you understand what the investment of time and other resources is, weighed against the benefits you are receiving.  In this article, we are talking about trying to overcome the loneliness of being an entrepreneur or CEO.  Sometimes these groups can help with that, but many times they don’t attract the caliber of people you’re looking for; it really depends on the particular group and its composition in your location.  If you don’t find a local group that serves your needs, then start one!  Find other entrepreneurs and CEOs of a caliber that matches what you’re looking for, and get together with them on a regular basis to exchange war stories and lessons.  It doesn’t have to be formal.  Remember, you’re not looking for rewards or recognition from such a group; you’re looking for people who can understand the unique issues and situation you face, who can interact with you and offer advice, in a symbiotic relationship.

Mastermind Groups

  • “Mastermind” groups are typically informal alliances among entrepreneurs with similar interests, often in the same or similar industries.  In reality, such groups have been around for a long time, but only recently has the name “mastermind” caught on.  Their purpose tends to be similar to that of the formal peer groups you will read about in the next section.  The idea is to get a bunch of very capable entrepreneurs together regularly, usually by phone in the case of masterminds, and work through current and reoccurring issues that confront the group members.  It boils down to peer support and is often slanted a bit more toward the technical side of your particular industry, but in reality, over time relationships build and as bonds and shared experiences grow, it helps to combat entrepreneur and CEO loneliness issues as well.

Formal Peer Groups

  • There are CEO groups out there, such as Vistage (http://www.vistage.com), which for a fee will connect you with other CEOs in similar circumstances, so you can have formal interactions to support one another and share ideas on solving specific problems.  Such organizations are not inexpensive, however they can be excellent tools for getting you the answers you need, from credible sources, in a very efficient manner.  The formal interactions of Vistage members usual take place in-person and thus are typically relatively local in nature, but they have recently launched a new service called Vistage Connect (http://www.vistageconnect.com), which has more of an online interaction focus.  My understanding is that the service is less costly and also offers the opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs and CEOs from around the world, not just those in your geography.

So there you have a few options for seeking out other entrepreneurs and CEOs with whom you can interact in an effort to not feel as lonely, particularly when you’re faced with tough decisions that you do not feel like you can share with others at your company.  This way, you still may feel like you’re on an island at times, but at least now there will be other entrepreneurs and CEOs there with you!

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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