When I reflect on my time as an entrepreneur and all the things I did wrong (not building a scalable business), as well as all the things I did right (elevating my ability to detect bullshit), I realize that leaving corporate life was the best thing I ever did.
If you’re a dude in the back-office of a large company with dreams of opening up your own shop, here are 6 attitude checks you better pass before you cash out your pension to try.
I’m all for trying but those who do well DON’T have the following attitude deficiencies.
1. You think anything that’s not on your job description is “Not your job.”
Enjoy that silo much? The ‘not my job’ and the ‘not paid to do this’ gripe is the reason some people will always suck. If I’m asking a dolphin trainer to perform a vasectomy, he can say “Dude, that’s not my job,” and I’d be cool with it. If a sales coordinator won’t go the distance and wring the right necks to get back-office to contract a sale because, “Dude, I only deal with accounts that start with J, R and Q. That’s not my job.” – you’re already hopeless.
When you’re an entrepreneur, nothing is below you and the clock doesn’t dictate when you end your day. You are responsible for everything. The number one scarcity in a small business is not money, it’s labour. And if you’re not doing more or as much as the people around you, there’s no back office to hide in. The most ______ corporate sentiment is the one sentiment you will never encounter as an entrepreneur who rolls with other entrepreneurs. And that is some loser saying “That’s not my job.” When everything you do either results in you getting money to pay your lease or pay your staff, every bloody thing is your job. This is why I will always hire folks who ran their own businesses over career employees.
2. You expect easy success as an entrepreneur because you’re awesome at your day job.
You’re awesome at your day job because you’re working in a system someone else built. There are different departments to do stuff for you which have things like budgets and expense accounts. It does not translate one iota to being a business owner. In fact, it probably arms people with unwarranted hubris. The entrepreneurs you read about in the news are the ones who are newsworthy. They don’t talk about the ones who starved. It’s ridiculous amounts of hours, hard work and around the clock fretting for most others. Not only does your product or service need to be good, you have to market and sell and continuously raise money to grow.
It’s lonely, grinding work and the encouragement of friends and family don’t pay the utility bills.
3. You need someone to tell you you’re awesome for every thing you do.
If you’re the kind of guy who needs somebody to constantly tell you that you’re awesome or else you’re going to be in ‘a mood‘, you’re broken. And surprise! Millions of these people exist in all companies in all departments at all levels. Dude, sometimes you do suck. And it’s the leader who knows how to lead that will tell you to your face.
If you own your own gig, the only praise you can hope for is a buying customer who refers another customer.
4. You hate to sell
You think that asking somebody for money in exchange for a product is below you. You think all sales guys are dirt bags. You’re embarrassed to ask for a sale. Dude. End your dreams of business ownership this instant and go find a job in the back office. And when you’re there, remember to thank the sales guys who are bringing in revenue to keep you employed.
An entrepreneur who is afraid to sell or hates to self-promote is done. Sure you can find someone to sell for you but get ready to give up a huge chunk for her to do so.
5. You seek harmony over getting Things done.
In a large company, you can hate a dude and it doesn’t matter because you’re still getting a paycheck. The other guy might be swiping your ideas or just getting in the way of you selling more. You tell yourself “Whatever. It’s just a job. I’m still getting a paycheck.” So you co-exist and nurse an epic grudge all the while faking pleasantries so you don’t ruin the qi in the office.
In a business, if you hate your partners, the business is dead. If you seek harmony over actually getting stuff done or sold, the business is dead. If egos get in the way of raising money or connecting with the right buyers, the business is dead. If you’re too flaccid to speak your mind, the business is dead.
6. You bail way too easily.
A guy pokes a hole at your idea during a team meeting and you immediately feel stupid for proposing it. You’re full of ideas but somehow you’ve convince yourself that others will think the ideas are stupid. Did you ever think that others want you to feel stupid because they didn’t think of it first? Stop thinking like you need to impress all the time and stake a claim for once in your life. If you have ideas, propose them, back them up and fight like hell to see them happen.
Being a entrepreneur means telling everybody what you’re doing and plowing forward with an idea that you think will work. It means when things get hard, you persist. When everybody thinks you’re deluded, you persist. When 9 buyers have said no, you persist to find the 10th.
There is something completely wonderful about determining your own fate and not being reliant on a steady paycheck. Being able to prospect to find business and close business means you can create an income out of sheer will. This is something that completely emboldens and elevates anybody who tries and succeeds as well as those who try and fail. But here’s the thing. Corporate life offers EXACTLY the same learnings if you see them as such. Sadly most don’t and waste a wonderful, paid learning opportunity. TIP: If you’re in a job right now, treat it like your business. With each decision, ask yourself, ‘Would I do it if it was my own money?’. The moment you start seeing yourself as an owner, you get one step closer to becoming one.
So why the 6 points?
Because those were all the attitudes I had to kill in order for me to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Adapted from an article I wrote on Startup 3.0.