Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“It’s Not about Being Your Own Boss”
“Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American Dream?”
—Homer Simpson, in the Simpsons
For a moment, it seemed as if the message was everywhere—on television, on radio, in countless Twitter and Facebook messages. Every day, I heard someone or saw some advertisement touting the greatest benefit of entrepreneurship. What was this great benefit? Well, it wasn’t how pursuing entrepreneurship can possibly make you wealthy. Nor was it that entrepreneurship is the key to true independence. Instead. entrepreneurship enables you to “be your own boss.” How lame! Above all, how deceiving!
This clever pitch appeals to those who have a job and want to escape from their boss, but can’t. That would be like persuading a prisoner to break out of jail because then he could be his own warden. Why would you want to be your own boss, someone you despise? Being your own boss is not the right reason to pursue entrepreneurship for two reasons.
- The phrase “being your own boss” appeals to those who believe that a domineering boss is a bad thing. They crave the freedom to do what they want when they want. People with this attitude generally make terrible entrepreneurs. As many entrepreneurs will tell you, unless you have strong self-discipline, a demanding boss figure that keeps you on track to success is a great thing, whether it’s yourself, an investor, a mentor, or a board. One thing is for sure: In order to be a successful entrepreneur, discipline is a must. There is no escaping it.
- The misguided “be your own boss” pitch appeals to a false idea of what being an entrepreneur means. It implies that to be an entrepreneur is to be a manager. Not true. Author and entrepreneurial guru Michael Gerber put it best in his classic book, The E Myth. He explains that three types of people go into business: the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician. Gerber writes, The entrepreneurial personality turns the most trivial condition into an exceptional opportunity. The Entrepreneur is the visionary in us. The dreamer. The energy behind every human activity. The energy that sparks the fire of the future. The catalyst for change . . . to the entrepreneur, most people are problems that get in the way of the dream. On the other hand, a boss or The Manager is pragmatic. Gerber continues, “Without The Manager there would be no planning, no order, no predictability. . . . Without The Manager, there could be no business, no society.” An entrepreneur is not a manager.
I would be much happier if those “be your own boss” ads never mentioned entrepreneurship. Ideally, they would proclaim, “Own your own business!” and stop there. The Entrepreneur, as Gerber puts it, “builds a house and the instant it’s done begins planning the next one.” Entrepreneurs aren’t interested in being bosses at all, and if an entrepreneur has to be a boss, this role is most certainly temporary.
People who subscribe to the be-your-own-boss fallacy cripple their entrepreneurial potential and are in it for the wrong reason. Are you a boss or an entrepreneur?