Why business owners make better employees

I admit.  I find entrepreneurs much more interesting than folks who work in large corporations.  I can’t help it. 

When I talk to an entrepreneur, his eyes widen with passion when he talks about how many times he tried, how much money he’s made and how much money he’s lost.  He talks about the chances he took, the strain on his kids and the unbelievable support of his family.  He talks about getting ripped off by suppliers, delivery issues and even failed partnerships.  But most terrific of all, he talks about all the lessons he’s learned.  He talks about all the ways he is going to improve next time.  He talks about everything with so much hope.  Even if things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, there is not a shred of regret in him for trying.

If he returns to corporate life, he functions at a level 100% above 95% of the people there who have never taken a chance in their lives.  Guaranteed.  One of my mentors returned to corporate life after being an entrepreneur for several years.  He now runs a billion dollar sales division.  The entrepreneur’s work ethic, eye to the bottom-line, and the drive to execution completely dominates a career employee.  Every cent he spends is his own money. Every moment he isn’t selling something is costing him.  The entrepreneur functions in a world of ‘do-or-die’.  The employee generally doesn’t – unless you’re an Apple employee or a rodeo clown.

Your water cooler stories will always be lame compared to his.

Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs aren’t simply risk takers.  They are people who actively seek to fix something they are dissatisfied with.  Instead of complaining about their jobs, they create their own jobs.  They have an idea, they do their homework and they start.  They’re not all hardcore type-As.  Many of them are very pleasant and simply want control over how they earn an income.  Many of them are brilliant and can easily earn a fantastic salary.  But many of them have been in corporate before and realize that as long as they depend on somebody to issue them a paycheck, there is no such thing as job security.  So they convince themselves that they can do it on their own.  They’re not reckless.  It’s all planned out and as much as possible is considered.  But they start.  They try.  And even if they fail, they’ve failed forward.

It’s never easy to take a chance.  But many people do it. You hear about the superstars who make millions, but you don’t hear about the ones who make 50, 100 or maybe even 300K a year.  Just know it’s possible. Don’t ever talk yourself out of something before you’ve given it a chance.  And if it doesn’t work out, I can guarantee you that if you return to corporate, you will dominate.  I have seen this over and over again.  You will operate on a completely different plane.  You will see further.  You will see faster.  Everything will seem slow to you.  You will demand efficiency and execution.  You will demand absolute accountability.  The only thing I would worry about is dealing with folks who don’t.

So why do entrepreneurs fail or return to corporate?  Because they tried and things just didn’t work out.  Maybe they tried and didn’t like running the show.  But at least they know.  At least they tried.  The only way to never fail is to never try.

“You can only get better by getting better.”  My mentor said that.

And there’s no better way to get better than forcing yourself to go it on your own.

M