For all entrepreneurs, starting a business is the route to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” no matter how risky. It’s the American dream that has been the goal of people in this country for over 240 years. If you are here in the U.S., I hope you are all able to take some time off this holiday period, to contemplate what you do, and why you do it.
According to a classic article and poll by Startups.co.uk, having the independence to make your own decisions is considered the key benefit of being an entrepreneur. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said decision-making independence was very important, closely followed by more flexibility for a better work/life balance. Job creation and innovation are the results, not the drivers.
Personal satisfaction also ranked close behind, with 70 percent of respondents claiming it was a key advantage to running their own business. Contrary to popular belief, most business owners did not start a business just to earn more money. Only 32 percent of entrepreneurs cited money a key benefit of running their own firm. This indicates that lifestyle and satisfaction factors are often more important than financial ones.
As with everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to every choice we make. Choosing entrepreneurship is no exception. Beyond the obvious advantages mentioned above, there are some additional advantages that get mentioned often.
- Challenge of originality. A good entrepreneur feels the incentive to offer a new service/product that no one else has offered before. That’s the same challenge an artist feels on every new canvas, or every musician feels when composing a new work.
- High level of excitement. Entrepreneurs love the continuous challenges of a startup, and the satisfaction of solving them. Some are so high on this life, that they hate the fact that they have to “waste” part of their life in sleep!
- Minimal rules and regulations. Work in a conventional job is often difficult to get done because of all the “red tape” and consistent administration approval needed. With a startup there are no rules, until you make them.
- Flexible work hours and conditions. Entrepreneurs can schedule their work hours around other commitments, including spending quality time with their families. Many love working from their home or garage, in casual clothes, serenaded their by favorite music.
- Beat the competition and discover yourself. Competition drives innovation, and innovation drives competition. The cycle never stops. But the best part is that ultimately entrepreneurship isn’t a race against others but an opportunity to discover your potential.
Of course there are some challenges that every entrepreneur knows all too well:
- No regular paycheck. Starting your own business means that you must be willing to give up the security of a regular paycheck. In fact, most startup founders work for no salary during the first year or two of company operation.
- Few paid benefits. There will likely be no medical and dental benefits, and no vacations or other perks during the formative years. Don’t expect a staff to do the accounting, handle correspondence, or even clean the bathrooms.
- Decision responsibility. All the decisions of the business must be made on your own, better known as “the buck stops here.” This may sound like an advantage, but is actually a major source of stress and loneliness for startup CEOs.
- Staffing challenges. Hiring and firing decisions are hard, and that’s just the beginning. Often times, you will find yourself working with people who “don’t know the ropes” and require extensive coaching and assistance. Then you have to deal with the mistakes.
By definition, if you see the rewards here as outweighing the risks, you are an entrepreneur. So you should fully appreciate the independence factor fought for so hard by our forefathers. I hope you have had time this holiday weekend to savor the dream. You earned it, and you need the rest.
Martin Zwilling is the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides services to startup founders around the world. See more details at www.startupprofessionals.com
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