by Chris Fontanella, founder of Encore Professionals Group, and author of “Jump Start Your Career: Ten Tips to Get You Going” and “Tune-Up Your Career: Tips & Cautions for Peak Performance in the Workplace“
The people who have the best vocations are the ones who take complete ownership by grabbing the steering wheel of their career vehicle with both hands and deciding where they are taking their life of employment. And the best way you can take total control is by becoming an entrepreneur. It’s a fine-sounding notion, I know, but as you probably have guessed, a road not easily traveled.
Having started two companies, I have firsthand experience.
Count the Cost (and It’s Not About Money).
Entrepreneurship is career ownership at the highest level. Since it’s your company, you cannot “own it” any more than that. It’s a potentially exhilarating, life-altering, self-gratifying experience. That said, the story of every businessperson who decides to strike out on their own involves challenges, struggles, obstacles, and difficulties that must be worked through, overcome, solved, and sometimes ignored.
Any time you commit yourself to a grand undertaking, sacrifices are part of the deal. There’s no way around it. You either ante up or sit it out while others play their hand. Which is why you must count the cost before undertaking such an audacious venture.
The demands of starting a business are many and varied, but the one cost that is inescapable is time! Being your own boss requires discipline with one of life’s gifts. The days of squandering precious moments, minutes and hours are over, at least until the business is humming along. But even then, it demands constant vigilance.
Dedication to building a business leaves little time for whatever everyone else gets to do. The more time you relinquish, the less time you have for family, friends, and fun and games.
The Common Denominators
Here is what almost every entrepreneur has in common:
- They are willing to start from scratch
- They understand that the bottom is as good a place as any to start
- They appreciate that beginning stages are humble and humbling
- They realize failure will pockmark their efforts
- They accept that a second job is sometimes needed to help keep the dream alive
- They have learned that the road to success is not a direct route
- They value determination over degrees
- And, a better life motivates them to break out of their existing environment (they want more than they already have)
An entrepreneur is a regular person who has decided to “go for it.” They have weighed the pros and cons, pluses and minuses, the good and bad, and still believe it’s worth going for. Determined entrepreneurs have no magic formulas to ensure success. What they have is guts to try, guts to pull out all the stops and go all out, guts to put their heart and soul into something. And they are willing to start somewhere and then work their asses off to get wherever there is.
Build a Better Mousetrap…
Hoping the world will beat a path to your door.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But maybe it’s right for you. Are you busting at the seams to set out on your own, to undertake your own business venture? Do you feel you can offer a service better than someone else or better than another company? Do you often ask yourself, why am I doing all this to make them money when I can be making the money for myself? Or maybe you have an idea for a better mousetrap. If you feel your current job is keeping you from what you were intended to do, you may be a future entrepreneur.
Go Boldly, Stay Strong
The entrepreneurial path requires fortitude.
1. Starting small is never wrong, but thinking small always is.
Do not despise the days of small beginnings. Grand enterprises take time to develop. It is not uncommon for start-ups to appear insignificant at first. Countless business successes have sprung from humble beginnings.
Accept failure as part of the process. Before Joe Torre, one of MLB’s respected managers, achieved a win percentage of .605 with the New York Yankees, he eked out an overall .498 win percentage with three different teams. Those teams—the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves, and the St. Louis Cardinals—fired him. As you experience the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, keep in mind this Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” (Italics mine)
2. Wait for the right moment: Successful entrepreneurs are eager, not impetuous.
While there are successful “movers and shakers” who fire before they aim, having a plan is the smart move forward. Think through your moves. Save some seed money for your new venture before quitting your job. And certainly, consult with friends and family before taking your first step down that path, which will demand much of you.
3. Regard intuition as your friend.
Oftentimes your gut will guide you in the direction you need to go. Igor Sikorsky called intuition “an extremely primitive…faculty of higher order.” He believed Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were successful because their intuition allowed them to envision the future, and then they worked their tails off to make their visions reality.
Stay True to Yourself
Entrepreneurship affords you complete control over your career destiny. It is a road less traveled, but one worth traveling if you determine it is the best way to remain true to who you are and spend your working days as you’ve always wanted.
Chris Fontanella is founder of Encore Professionals Group, a professional services firm specializing in the identification and placement of accounting and finance candidates in temporary and full-time positions. He is author of “Jump Start Your Career: Ten Tips to Get You Going“, and “Tune-Up Your Career: Tips & Cautions for Peak Performance in the Workplace“.