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.
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.
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?