Entrepreneur Analysis

If I were to describe myself between an entrepreneur and a corporate man, I would definitely say corporate. I’ve held a handful of jobs in a traditional office environment. Putting in my 9 to 5, with some evening and weekend work. I’ve even called myself a worker bee. Lately I’ve been getting into some very lively discussions with a friend of mine who falls in the entrepreneur camp. He’s been running his own business for a few years, but can’t seem to turn the corner. Things have been picking up lately so perhaps I should give him time to run with this new momentum.

In the end, I wish him the best, but perhaps I am too close to the situation. Since I care so much for his well being I almost want to get in there and push him around the corner using the tools and experiences that I’ve gained over the years. Every time this happens, things get heated, people get defensive, and it goes nowhere fast. I passionately push my “corporate” thinking while he battles back with “entrepreneur” mindset. The latest volley comes courtesy of Inc. magazine. Here’s the link.

How Great Entrepreneurs Think

In a nutshell, three very well written pages of supporting evidence on how great entrepreneurs think. I even learned to apply some of it to myself in my ongoing quest to improve. The problem I see when dealing with him and other entrepreneur friends is they’re not too open to hearing anything other than entrepreneur thinking. On the flipside, although I live and breathe corporate thinking, I try to be more open-minded and add weapons from all ways of thinking in my journey through life. Why only arm yourself with a few select items when you can pick from an entire war chest?

“Why are entrepreneurs more close minded, more emotional, and more impulsive than others?” I’ve come to the conclusion, because they have to. Let me explain.

Self Support

They kind of have a chip on their shoulder because everyone around them is usually more traditional or “corporate”, unless he comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Now imagine you’re surrounded by friends and family who think you are nuts. On top of that, parental units probably think owning your own business is an excuse to not get a real job, unless your name is Mark Zuckerberg. Screams of “What are you doing?!?!? Get a real job! Stop kidding yourself! Give up your silly dream!” go on and on. After awhile, you either better grow some thick skin or cave and join everyone else at corporate.

Holding Too Tight

If they have been chugging along for years, their small business now becomes them. Traditional corporate folks can easily separate themselves from their work. If things don’t work out, you can easily move on and get a new job. Entrepreneurs can’t. If things don’t work out, they almost seem to have failed. To make things worse, it almost seems they have failed as a worker, failed as a business owner, and failed their friends and family the longer they keep pushing along. The support system begins to actually add stress to an already stressful situation. What used to be blind devotion and loyalty turns into pleas to call it quits or lectures on getting a real job and how great it is on the other side.

No Other Choice

The longer this journey continues, the harder it will be to re-enter the traditional workforce. Your resume has a multi year gap. The skills you had at a traditional 9 to 5 are now out dated. You almost have no choice, but to make it as an entrepreneur. Furthermore, pride and identity won’t let you quit on yourself. If you have no other choice, this is a great motivator, but also a very dangerous situation to be in, in my humble, safe, corporate, conservative, opinion.

Now that I understand the mental hardships of being an entrepreneur, what next? From my point of view, it doesn’t even matter if you are an entrepreneur or a corporate person. Wouldn’t you be that much more successful if you could somehow utilize the best of both worlds? Recently I’ve been trying to suggest adding to his game. I’m always met with “I’m already doing what you’re suggesting or I don’t have time to fully analyze or plan like a corporate guy. My main goal is to sell, sell, sell! If not, no food gets put on the table!” Sobering thought which abruptly ends our conversation. For all you Trekkies, going back and forth like this is like Kirk battling a Spock during Pon Farr!

Are you an entrepreneur or a corporate person? How do you aid an entrepreneur whose greatest strengths are not allowing him to see anything else?

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26 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    Interesting take. I believe that it has more to do with the position of the person. Executives and CEO’s often define themselves by their positions as well. I never believe that it’s a good thing to define yourself by your career whether you work in corporate America or are an entrepreneur.

  2. Jackie says:

    Interesting. I’m an entrepreneur who has worked in some very corporate environments (think “Office Space”) and I don’t believe it’s a matter of one type being closed minded and the other open minded. You’ll find closed- and open-mindedness in all walks of life.

    For me being an entrepreneur had more to do with literally having hundreds and hundreds of ideas all the time. It’s about seeing different ways of doing things and trying random methods.

    What you’re saying about being surrounded by friends and family who think you’re nuts is spot on though. The thing is, an entrepreneur who has either left the traditional workforce or never been in it isn’t worried about gaps in their resume because they never want to BE in the traditional workforce — not because they think it’s wrong, but because for us a traditional “corporate” life is mind-numbing agony.

    Does your friend *want* help? That would be the first thing to know. If so, and if he *does* think your ideas are worth a shot, maybe a solution would be to hire someone to implement the ones he hasn’t already tried.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Awesome points. You and my friend are quite alike. He calls sitting in an office cube agonizing as well. Thanks for reminding me. Guess although I feel I am open minded, I may not be as much as I think. Great question about my friend wanting help. He does, but when I go into my bag of tricks, it falls on deaf ears. It’s not the kind of help he wants or he almost feels it won’t help. Rock and a hard place. 🙁

  3. MoneyCone says:

    Be both, have a side hustle!

  4. Jake says:

    That’s funny, because I live in the SF Bay Area, where people look at you weird if you’re NOT an entrepreneur. I came here from NY, where bankers in pinstripe suits were the bigwigs, and now I live in a world where it’s unshaven 21 year olds in shorts and sandals.

    Plus, failure here is a rite of passage. There are a lot more people who started a company, got funding (or didn’t), and then had to close up shop, than there are Mark Zuckerbergs. That’s well recognized, and those who have failed, learned, and started over are often given plenty of other opportunities.

    But to your point, I spent almost 7 years in the corporate world before I made the leap myself, and I definitely think it helped my mindset. I learned a lot in that time that I’ll take with me forever.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Interesting, guess it depends on where you are. Guess I wouldn’t fit in up north. Haha. Good point about failure, that’s the only way to learn and improve. So your an entrepreneur with a corporate foundation. Sounds like a good combination! 🙂

  5. Haha, everything on that planet is made from aluminum foils. Hope you get some Dilbert Pon Far traffic, but you might be a couple of weeks late. 😉
    Can you give specific situation that you give him ideas and he won’t listen? My dad is a serial entrepreneur, and he definitely has his own way of thinking.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Haha and the stunt doubles are horrible! I checked out the Dilbert Pon Farr strips from a few weeks back. Yeah maybe a little late. Maybe I need to add those strips, too. Specifically, I pushed more planning, analyzing, and building on metrics. He is of the thinking, I can measure all I want, but that doesn’t translate to sales. Catch 22. 🙁

  6. Hi Buck, Let it go…. he doesn’t want help, don’t help. I believe one has an entrepreneurial “spirit” and may or may not utilize that in a full time way. I also think you can be both. My hubby is a full time employee and works in consulting on the side. My dad was a serial entrepreneur his entire life. He was not suited for the corporate world (in spite of having an engineering degree). In sum, no hard and fast rules.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Hey Barb, I think you are right. Will have to back off. Great points! I guess I’m trying to be a little of both as well. Awesome rule, there are no rules! 🙂

  7. Hey Buck, in my experience the opposite is true. The entrepreneur types are more willing to think outside the box while the corporate types are content to chug along doing the same old thing.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Hey Mike. You’re absolutely right, but in this specific realm, trying moves outside typical entrepreneur moves, that’s where I see an entrepreneur possibly just wanting to chug along and do the same thing. Different players, different product or service, but essentially, the same move and more often than not, the same results.

  8. Hello!

    I lived and breathed my first job out of college in international sales and marketing. It drove me crazy, and I took all of my problems home. In the end (after one year), I was let go, and absolutely devastated. I learned a big lesson: corporations shed you without a second thought, so don’t identify your entire life with them or give them too much power over you.

    Am I an entrepreneur? I’d like to think the mentality is there with my blog and my writing (I think anyone who starts a blog has an entrepreneur in them), but I am probably more corporate.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Sad situation getting let go like that, but it taught you a valuable lesson. Thanks for sharing. I think I’m like you. More corporate, but the blogging side of me seems to be more like an entrepreneur. Maybe one day I’ll be more entrepreneur with a hint of corporate from the old days. One can dream! 🙂

  9. JT McGee says:

    Hmm, I’m definitely going to do a post on this. As a life-long entrepreneur myself (I’m young, so that doesn’t mean much) there are just some things I’ll never comprehend about jobs (I’ve only had one–and only for 1 month).

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Cool, will be looking forward for that post! 🙂 If you had only one job, what are you doing these days? Blogging full time?

  10. Personally, I hate the corporate environment. But, I think that’s because I feel that I can give a lot more if I am free to follow my own ideas!

  11. I really liked the example of a war chest of ideas. Too many people do fall into a single line of thinking and become blinded to new ways of approaching a problem. Having an open mind is as important in business as it is in every other aspect of life.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      I’m glad you agree. Having more knowledge and options can only benefit you in the long run. You have a great website. I’ll visit more often. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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