You’d be surprised how often I hear that phrase as a business coach. You might not be surprised, as a coach, how many people I meet, and you might not be surprised how many of those people I meet that are unhappy.
I meet a lot of people who are unhappy in their work, unhappy with their pay, unhappy with the level of meaning in their lives, and unhappy with the number of options that seem to be available to them to make a change.
As of January 2017 there are still a great number of laid off or unemployed Albertans (300,000+ according to many best estimates). As such, there are a great, seemingly equal number of Albertans who feel lucky to have a job, even though they dislike (and maybe even hate) their jobs. It’s an interesting paradox. Your neighbour has been laid off, so you feel guilty complaining about hating your job, but every day you feel your soul dying a little bit more.
Admit it, if you haven’t been there, you know someone who is there right now!
Getting back to the point of this article, many disillusioned workers feel more disheartened when they consider the notion of working for themselves if they haven’t done so before, thinking it’s not in their skill set, or even in their DNA. Why is this?
I propose we have an unrealistic idea of what entrepreneurship is, and also – what it isn’t. When I lost passion for my previous career, I delayed starting a business, as the notion of a coaching practice took a year to plan. It wasn’t until I did a 360 degree review that coaching as a passion and career hit me in the face. At first, my mind went straight to starting a business – any business, and I felt lost because I didn’t have any great ideas.
This is where a great many of us (based on my research, experiences, and many conversations, at least) have a less-than-accurate view of what it means to be an entrepreneur. My experience (personally and in working with those considering starting a business) is that many would-be entrepreneurs never venture down that path because they think they need to invent the next big thing, or because they’ve never run a business previously, so they don’t know how (true) and think they won’t be good at it (could be totally false).
The latter argument sounds a lot like that vicious cycle facing recent graduates, “I can’t get a job because I have no experience, I have no experience because I can’t get a job”. The fact is, most of us just start (with a solid idea, solid plan, and at least some financing, mind you).
One of the truest maxims of becoming an entrepreneur is that you jump first, and develop your wings on the way down.
This may sound like the secret is to throw caution to the wind, and I am warning very strongly that is not the case. You have to do your homework, you have to know your market, know your product or service, you have to know your customer’s needs (and problem you can solve), and you need to work your ass off. All things considered, however, starting a business is much like getting married or having a child – if you wait “until you’re ready” – you’ll never do it.
Surrounding yourself with great mentors and an executive or leadership coach (or better yet, those who do both) can improve your chances, but there are zero guarantees in business and many ‘sure things’ have closed their doors. This is not to discourage anyone, quite the opposite, it’s to bring to attention the realities so that you walk in prepared.
The last notion to explore and explode is the limiting assumption that many yet-to-be-entrepreneurs tell themselves. They often hear someone utter the phrase ‘self-employed’ or “I run my own business”, and they assume that A) that other person is successful, and that ipso facto B) that other person is different than them.
Just like the neighbour with the nicer house & faster car may not be happier, so it is with business. We know nothing about that other person’s skill, tenure, business model, or balance sheet, so do yourself a favor and don’t assume that they are a success and by comparison you are a failure.
By that same logic, don’t rule yourself out as an entrepreneur either, unless you;
• Are highly risk adverse
• Crave security
• Perform at your best specializing in a compartmentalized role rather than wearing many hats.
No different than horseback riding, surfing, painting, or any other skill – you might just be a natural as an entrepreneur if only you give yourself the chance to develop wings on the way down!
Happy to grab a coffee and discuss whether there’s merit to your business idea and help you increase your chance of success by the way!