Just take a look in any marketng forum, marketing group on Facebook, and heck… even among many of the friends you went to high school with and you’ll see them. Hard working, always busy, self-proclaimed entrepreneurs.
You may actually be one of these people. If so, well done. You’re the boss, running your own show, booking your own appointments and making your own money on your terms. This is an awesome acheivement and you should be proud.
There’s a very important question we need to have a very clear answer for though, and it goes like this:
Do any of these characteristics make you an entrepreneur?
At first glance this seems like a pretty stupid question and I’ve probably offended a few of you if you happen to run your own business. This is definitely not my intent. Like I said above you have much to be proud of. However, the definition of an entrepreneur is quite different to what many assume.
I found a really good video by Dale Patridge which helps clarify this quite well.
In the video he explains that many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs are actually “fakeprenuers”. Not bad people just not in the category they assumed. The video is linked to further down this page but here’s the gist of it:
These people usually fall into one of three categories:
1. The Freelancer
This is that amazingly ambitious go-getter who, often through the frustration of working for a boss who’s either doing everything wrong or just not treating them right, decides to go off on their own and provide services to their own clients and “skip the middle man” as it were.
Here’s the thing, while this is not the same as being an employee, a freelancer is still the one doing the work and as such still constrained by time. Their income is still to tied the number of hours in a day that they can realistically work. Or in some cases unrealistically – you know who you are ;).
Since a freelancer trades time for money they don’t have the leverage that a true entrepreneur has and will eventually hit a limit on how much they can grow their bottom line.
2. The Self Employed Business Owner
I first saw this explained in the the Rich dad, Poor Dad book and it changed my whole perspective.
If you own a business selling say t-shirts and you’re the one creating the designs, dealing with customer support issues and marketing, you will eventually get to the point where you’ll need to hire some help.
This is a great problem to have because it means your business is growing. The problem however, is that it can also be a prison sentence to “life in your business”.
If any part of your busness depends on you then you’re an employee at your company, not an entrpreneur.
In Michael Gerber’s book “The E-Myth” (an excellent read by the way) he calls people in this category “Technicians”. They’re highly skilled at providing the service or producing the product they sell and in fact are typically the only one who can so they have to work in their business in order for it to survive.
An entrpreneur takes a different approach. They work on their business so they can walk away at any time and the business will continue to run and even grow without them. This is where the time freedom part of the entrepreneurial dream comes from.
3. The Employee At Heart
If the thought of being an employee for the rest of your “working life” is something you’re comfortable with then you’re probably not an entrepreneur.
Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but this is easily one of the scariest things you can say to a true entrepreneur.
The idea of allowing someone else to be in charge of determining the number of hours you work, the number of vacation days you get each year and whether or not there will even be a job for you from one day to the next won’t bother you too much if you’re happy to remain an employee.
If this is you that’s fine. You’re just not an entrepreneur.
If, on the other hand, the very thought of this keeps you up at night – reading articles like this :), constantly scheming and planning your escape from the 9 to 5 – then chances are pretty good that, even if you have a job right now working for someone else, even if it’s doing something you love, then you probably have the right mindset to becoming an entrepreneur.
Here’s Dale’s Video
So Now What?
If after reading all of this you find yourself falling short, all is not lost. For the most part this is a mindset shift. However, once you make this shift your approach to buiding and growing a successful business will likely change either a little or a whole lot depending on where you fall on the spectrum.
First thing you need to do is get clear on what you’re actually trying to achieve. If it’s time and financial freedom then you need systems, automation and leverage. You have to put yourself in a position where your income is not tied to your time. Your business needs to provide you with money whether you show up or not.
Some good examples of businesses that follow this model are:
- Rental income from real estate
- Royalties from songs or books
- Fixed term subscriptions
- Advertising income from high traffic blogs
- Dividend paying whole life insurance policies
If set up correctly with systems to run every aspect of the day to day tasks, these businesses/income sources only require an initial set up and then once they’re up and running they pretty much run themselves, requiring the business owner to check in from time to time and make tweaks to the system if needed.
Mind The Gap
There are many pitfalls along the way to becoming a successful entrepreneur and if you haven’t made many (if not most) of them already you probably will soon and at he very least, you know someone who has.
To help you avoid some of the bigger more costly ones I’ve put together a free video training where I go through 5 Top Business Mistakes.
So I guess the only question left to ask (yourself) now is…
“Are you really an entrepreneur or are you faking it?”