You Know You’re An Entrepreneur When…
I had just made my future wife cry—and what was worse, I wasn’t exactly sure what I had done to upset her.
We were in premarriage counseling and had gotten to the point where we were discussing our financial future together. My bride to be was shocked to learn I had run up over $13,000 in credit card debt in 1990 trying to get my current company—my third, OK?—off the ground.
I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. The pastor shared an empathetic look with my fiancée, then turned to me and said, “Entrepreneurs think very differently about money, don’t they?”
They do. In fact, entrepreneurs tend to upset a lot of people—spouses, partners, lawyers, professors, bankers and politicians (pushing entitlement)—with how they think about most things.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the enormous pleasure of spending time with hundreds of entrepreneurs, some of whom have been incredibly successful and some who could seem to get out of their own way.
If you are an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur—somebody who uses their skills and social capital to create products, services and business models from inside an established company—the following characteristics should seem pretty familiar. I’ve added a tip or two after each one in the hopes of making your journey less painful, less expensive and more productive.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll even keep a spouse or two from crying.
You know you are an entrepreneur if you HATE risk
This always surprises nonentrepreneurs. The common belief is that people start companies because they get a rush from taking risks. But show me a serial entrepreneur—someone who has started two or more successful firms—and I will show you a serial risk-avoider. Having a job is akin to having all of your eggs in one basket. Many would-be entrepreneurs see a bad manager or temperamental boss as good enough reason to take responsibility for their own future.
Back in the days when I worked for other people, I remember imagining my boss having a big red EJECT button with my name on it. He’d go out for cocktails at lunch and come back angry. I would sit waiting at my desk, thinking about that button and wondering if today was the day he was going to push it.
For many, this type of situation is enough to hang their own shingle or start something new from within, where their compensation and job security is tied directly to their own performance. This is why so many sales people are entrepreneurial. They are drawn to jobs where there is a straight line between risk and reward—a line that they get to draw.
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