A 46-year man concluded that having a wife and kids was never going to happen for him. So after some thinking, he decided that instead of a human family, he would get the next best thing: a Capuchin monkey.
Excited, he went to an exotic pet shop in Raleigh, NC, told the owner his situation, and inquired about getting a Capuchin monkey for a pet.
The owner asked: “Do you like kids?”
The man: “Yes! I absolutely love them!”
The owner: “Good, because having a Capuchin monkey is like having a 7-year old child…”
The man: “That’s awesome!”
The owner: “…for 35 years…”
The man: “Okaaaaay…”
The owner: “…who throws his poop everywhere.”
The man bought a used car instead.
To Entrepreneur or Not
It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of owning a monkey more than the reality of owning a monkey. And many people like the idea of being an entrepreneur more than the reality of being an entrepreneur.
To help you figure out if you’re really ready to work yourself, let me offer 6 pointers:
1. Count the cost.
Are you ready to:
- Invest blood, sweat, and tears?
- Stake your future on your efforts, your ideas, and your drive?
- Give up the “security” of a full time job, company-provided health care, paid time off, weekend/holiday time-and-a-half pay, a 401K, etc.?
- Become one of those obsessed people who talk about their business every opportunity they get?
- Serve as your own Finance, IT, HR, Legal, Operations, Customer Service, Engineering, Complaints, Tax, Facilities, and Sales & Marketing Departments?
2. Be realistic.
Have a generous amount of savings that you are willing to spend to keep you afloat while you’re building your business. Be realistic about how long before you’ll gain financial traction. Understand that you might not turn a profit for quite a while.
Be realistic about what you’ll need for emotional support, too. When you work in an office, you usually have at least someone who encourages your progress, helps you brainstorm, and offers praise. When you work alone, you need to learn to stoke your own fire.
3. Find an investor.
If you watch The Profit or Shark Tank, you probably think I’m referring to a financial investor. That would be great, wouldn’t it? But the type of investor I mean is an expert who is willing to invest time in helping your get started. Find a mentor who has done something similar to what you’re trying to do. Ask that person what worked as well as what failed along the way. When I first started, I was overwhelmed by the generous experts who were willing to give me a few minutes to point me in the right way.
4. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Captain Obvious comment coming up here, but we aren’t all motivated by the same prize. I’ve talked to Lifestyle, Social, Inventor, One-Hit-Wonder, Consultant, and Serial Entrepreneurs, and the only prize they share in common is a desire for results. I talked to a social entrepreneur on a long flight who had endless passion about helping the poor. God love this woman! Her prize isn’t a big paycheck, a huge home, a nice corner office, or a big title. Her prize is knowing that she did something that helped another person.
When you keep your eye on the prize (your prize, the result about which you are most passionate to achieve), you don’t get as weary along the journey, and you don’t curse and complain about your lack of creature comforts or niceties. Why? You understand that obtaining your prize will involve some sacrifice.
5. Marry well.
In my case, I did that literally: I fell in love with my book editor who became my business partner. But when I say marry well, I’m not suggesting that you add “would make a good business partner” to your must-have list for a mate.
What I mean by marry well is to surround yourself with people that you’re most proud and happy to be called your partners. As we tell our children, people are known by the company they keep. When you work for a huge organization, no one can hold you accountable for the actions of the entire employee base. But when you’re in a small business, you become known by your associates.
As a small business owner, I’ve had to sever ties with partners when I’ve learned that they over promise and under deliver, talk badly about people behind their backs, or don’t share my essential core values. If I am to be judged by my business partners, I want to make certain that my business partners reflect my best traits and values.
6. Talk yourself out of it.
Do you remember when fictional character Michael Scott from TV’s The Office asked his assistant to look into helping him adopt a baby? When he found out it would take a long time, he commented, “How do I even know I’ll want a baby by then?”
Likewise, if you can see yourself doing anything else while working for anyone else, then do it. You might decide that a steady paycheck from an imperfect organization in a less than stellar economic recovery beats the risk of starting your own business.
Shark Tank serial entrepreneur Lori Greiner understands what drives people to work for themselves. She summarized it this way:
Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.
When you’re not only willing to put in those 80 hours each week, but you also are unable to see yourself doing anything else, you have the spirit of a successful entrepreneur.
And if you have now talked yourself out of becoming a self-employed entrepreneur, re-read the first 5 pointers and ask yourself this question: Could I apply these tips in my current job to find more fulfillment and happiness?