It’s been quite remarkable to watch entrepreneurship move its way up the popularity scale. For the past 17 years I’ve been a founder, partner, shareholder or investor in a variety of companies both large and small. During the vast majority of those years it wasn’t particularly popular to be an entrepreneur. The career of choice was to do “traditional” things like doctor, lawyer, consultant, accountant, engineer or investment banker. Even being a pharmaceutical salesman or a stock broker was a preferable choice to entrepreneur. I can see why they seemed like better options. In comparison, I was just a guy in Utah trying to start some random business. It wasn’t cool to be an entrepreneur.
Not anymore. Entrepreneurship is the new career of choice.
Why? In part because it is easier than it ever has been to be an entrepreneur. The tools available, the capital available, the access to a worldwide marketplace, social media, mobile platforms and other factors have made being an entrepreneur completely available. With the help of enormous media hype, a lot of books on the subject, and some legitimate mass wealth being publicly created – it’s now cool to be an entrepreneur. These types of things make it easy to understand entrepreneurs meteoric rise in popularity. It seems like anyone can be an entrepreneur nowadays, right?
While there have been a bunch of advances that make entrepreneurship more available, I don’t think it means more entrepreneurs should be produced. It is not for everyone, regardless of whether or not it is easier to do. Some things are the same now as they were 17 years ago, such as:
Are you able to take decisive action? Asking the right questions, getting the right data, doing so quickly, and then making a solid decision. Is this you? It doesn’t matter how lean your startup is, whether you are an agile developer, a mobile app enthusiast, have a killer SaaS model, or follow every startup queen on Twitter. If you don’t know how to ask good questions, put together solid data, and make smart decisions it doesn’t matter if it is 1999 or 2099 – you shouldn’t chase entrepreneurship.
Who is your significant other? Read this post and make sure you have a relationship that supports owning your own business.
Are you already headed down another career path? If so, what makes you think you should change now? Is it because a neighbor, friend, co-worker or classmate asked you to? Did you read something? Or were you truly inspired to do something?
Do you really, truly have a great business idea? Do you have some people willing to pay for it that aren’t friends and family? Do you have customers that are actively engaged in your beta? Do you have something that shows someone other than yourself believes in what your product service (that isn’t related to you or one of your friends)? Look yourself in the mirror and admit to yourself if you don’t. You know the truth. Don’t be afraid to admit it.
Is your passion for your idea/business/startup so strong that you just cannot see straight? Does it consistently keep you up at night, do you do the work it takes, does it almost consume you in an unhealthy way? This passion (never ending, deeply rooted and simply a part of who you are) can be faked I suppose, but you’d only be fooling yourself. Is your passion palpable? Is it real? Is it lasting? Things get lonely so your passion has to be as real as it gets.
I have solid ownership in some great companies. I have investments in others that I’m proud of. I’ve been doing this for 17 years. While I am certainly not even close to the best entrepreneur I know, I do have the battle scars (and some successes) to have earned my stripes. I’m hoping that more people will really think thru the TYPE of entrepreneur they want to be. It can fit a lot of different shapes and sizes, but please, don’t just do it to be one of the new cool kids. There is too much at stake to chase it for the wrong reasons.