Today I want to discuss the idea of being an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial and entrepreneur risk. Part of the reason for this is as we’re talking throughout all of these episodes, we’re hinting or talking about the idea of having additional income, extra income, starting your own business, etc., and there are several different avenues for that, and I want to get clear on some of them and some of the methodologies of getting there, and what you really need to have inside of you.
But first, what I’ll consider the three general categories of an entrepreneur. This is: You’re not working for a company, but you are doing something else. Now, some people (and this is a different classification by different people), some or many people would classify entrepreneur as somebody who starts their own business, but I don’t mean working independently, getting contracts or getting customers, but rather having employees, building a company which has complete financial responsibility, all the risk, and all the management and responsibility it entailed. That’s the real, true broadest definition of “entrepreneur”.
Now, there’s two other things you could do, one of which is you could work completely independently, and be making things based on contracts. This could be something where somebody is working for another company, and they do it part time; they do it on evenings and weekends. Maybe they’re an electrician and they take side jobs, an electrician at a major company. Or they’re a painter, and then they take side jobs as well. Or they’re a systems person, and they help other people advertise on the internet or whatever, or by word of mouth, and they loan themselves out on nights and weekends to solve people’s problems. Or to build things that other people can use.
The last is probably… Well, I’ll call it the newest because it’s risen into a new stage that didn’t exist before, and that’s really because of the internet, and that is this sort of quasi-company that you build that’s a virtual company, whereby you don’t really have employees, but you have lots of people that you’re relying on working with virtually. Now, they don’t have to be virtual; it could be down the street, some of them, but the idea is that you’re not really having that complete financial responsibility with them. That is, you don’t have to file all the papers and all the other things for employees, etc., but also, if something happens, you don’t need them anymore, there’s not the process of laying them off. Also, you go and you find somebody and they don’t work out, then you move on to the next person until you find that very special person, that is your special virtual assistant, or your special web development person that’s building your website and giving you ongoing support, or that social media person that you’re trying out different people and you find the right one that you just mesh. It may not be the best one; it may be the one that is best for you. So you’re building a company that’s a virtual company. This is much lower risk, and there’s an essential part to see the different here between that and what I referred to initially as an entrepreneur.
So, depending on your age, you may want to go into some entrepreneurial activity, but it’s got to be something that’s inside of you. Now, what do I mean by that? It was interesting, you may not even know it yourself, but when I was younger, of course, I always thought that the idea was you were supposed to go work for a company, but I had done a lot of entrepreneurial activities when I was younger. So here it was that when I graduated and went to General Motors Research Labs, then General Motors, and Chase, and I got the opportunity, I built my own company. I built a consulting company, it became very large, extremely well-respected, covered around the world.
As I transitioned out of that, I got another opportunity, and that opportunity was having a training center offered to me by Microsoft, so I did that. When I saw that that was something that no longer would be financially viable because Microsoft changed the rules, and when the rules changed, it became less profitable to own a training center than to be working independently. So, then I took that other route of working independently, contracting for other people. A very different responsibility. Made lots of money from it, so it’s not necessarily the money, but going to different places, and working, and doing a fine enough job that you’re well-respected and you easily have contracts. One-week contracts all over the place. That’s a very different situation, though, than being an entrepreneur when you have that company and all that responsibility. But now today, you can start a company where you have that virtual capability because of the internet.
Remember from other episodes, mentioning the fact that in a business, in the old brick-and-mortar days where you would have a storefront, what’s most important is foot traffic. How much foot traffic is going to be in front of your store? Are you going to be located near other things that have major attraction to bring people in? You don’t have to worry about that as much when the internet brings you the world. You literally can reach out, (depending on the business, of course; you can’t deliver some things that way), but you can reach out and start selling products, services around the world. That’s a major difference and a major change. Also, much less risky than the old business days. That opens up a wealth of opportunities for a wide range of occupations or businesses so that anybody, almost, could be, if it is part of you and if you want it – to set up that business of your own (see – What happens if your paycheck stops?).
Now, how might you handle it? You might handle it by going ahead, and starting and testing it out, but you have to test it out really in a very aggressive manner. You don’t test it out by just doing something every once in a while. You have to decide, develop your plan, develop your strategy, put it out there, and work hard on it and every facet of it, just like an ordinary business if you’re going to go the virtual business route. If you’re going to just be independent, that’s very different. You could be working at a regular job, and then take extra jobs in the evenings and weekends, and that could be whether you’re a web developer, social media consultant, or an electrician, a plumber, or a painter. Any of those could be done. Of course, painter, electrician, and plumber – you might be talking more about doing things that are local.
These new opportunities are really tremendous for people today. The ability to add to your income can be very significant, and can breed and bring you independence and also stability. We talked all the way back at the first episode of Life Unsettled about the fact that there are people being laid off and replaced by younger, cheaper workers. If you have this second source of income or this independent job, then you now have much less risk because you’ve got, now, multiple streams of income (see – The reasons and motivation for this show).
So whatever your choices are, we’re going to work on a couple of episodes to address some of the other areas. Hopefully you can find satisfaction in expanding your opportunities. If you so desire, there is no limits to the kinds of things and the kinds of income sources an entrepreneur can get today.