I have often heard senior professionals tell entrepreneurs, that they wish they had the guts to leave their jobs and start up on their own. But I have yet to hear an entrepreneur, irrespective of whether their venture is doing well or struggling, tell any professional “I wish I had your job”.
The reason is easy to understand. Entrepreneurs choose their ventures largely on the basis of their areas of interest or passion or competence. It’s always great when work is also what you love to do. A job may or may not provide that option.
But just doing what you are passionate about is not the only reason why entrepreneurs are generally more excited about their work. In some cases, rare though, you may get to do what you really are passionate about in a job too. The big difference however is that while in a job you are living either someone else’s dream or a company’s objectives, in your own startup, you are driving your own vision, goals, dreams and aspirations. Every small step in an entrepreneurial journey feels like an accomplishment and gives you the satisfaction of having reached a new milestone.
And while the entrepreneurial journey is not always smooth and often fraught with risks, challenges and failures, the entrepreneur’s passion for the concept and the domain provides the person the patience and courage and the will to push ahead and sometimes, even if the venture fails, gives the person a personal high of having tried something.
Most importantly, irrespective of what the outcome of an entrepreneur’s venture – whether it fails or succeeds – the entrepreneur always wins, because even the failures teach you so much about business and life. They prepare your foundation for another leap. Another shot at glory.
Most entrepreneurs continue on the entrepreneurship journey, if one venture fails, they try another. If the entrepreneurial experience had not been a satisfying one, they would have given up and taken up a job.
But passion about what you do is not just a nice by-product of entrepreneurship. It is a necessary ingredient. Because, without passion and commitment; you are unlikely to find the will to push through challenging times. And challenging times there will be at many different times of the venture’s life. That’s why I tell entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs –don’t start a venture because it was the first opportunity that came across, or because you saw someone else do something well. Don’t just think of the obvious business ideas like baking, cooking, children related events, and other similar business that seem easy to do, manageable within flexible times etc.
My suggestion to aspiring entrepreneurs is to think hard about what you are personally interested in – what you are passionate about. Think hard about what would give you maximum pleasure. Then when you have a list of many, many options, narrow the list to a few that pass a certain set of filters that you may want to apply – e.g. time, capital, profitability, travel/non-travel etc. Once you have a list of 2-3 venture ideas that you think you are keen on, start evaluating them deeply. Think about all the aspects about this venture – see whether this will give you the joy as well as the financial returns you seek, as well as some of the other aspects that may be important to you (e.g. the recognition and respect, intellectual stimulation, etc.). Once you have thought about all this, let these simmer in your mind. Let some time pass post your initial evaluation. Then revisit that evaluation and see if you still feel strongly about them. If not, go back to the drawing board, including adding some new ideas into the pool. If you have a couple of ideas that seem to be good contenders for the finals, run it past a few people, get their views and perspectives and then take your final decision based on your gut and instinct. The rest will be detailing that can be left for later when you start planning your entrepreneurial journey.
Go ahead. Give entrepreneurship a shot. You owe it to yourself. After all, it’s your life. As the ad of a popular whiskey brand says, ‘Make it large’.
This post was originally published in The Sheroes Newsletter on February 11th, 2014 ( Read here )