The most recent developments in our collective life have shown that no one’s position is invulnerable to falls and unforeseen changes. Many people have been made redundant in the face of large and small businesses losing ground under their feet and being forced to let their workforce go. You may be left questioning the very foundations of how you have been living and supporting your livelihood for years. Such critical conjunctions always open a space in our heart for exploring and playing with ideas about alternative ways of living and earning. Suddenly, we get in touch with our deeper longings for more freedom and creativity as well as with a clearer sense of what’s important to us in our life. Some are thinking that starting your own business could be a way to achieve this. But are you an entrepreneur at heart? If you are asking yourself this question, this blog will help you think about it with more focus and deliberation.
Let’s start with defining entrepreneurship in some general terms.
Those who want to become an entrepreneur are often the kind of people who long to find more freedom, autonomy and enjoyment in the way they work as well as more of a work-life balance.
The reason for the appearance of another word in our vocabulary – solopreneur – is to communicate a subtle difference from being an entrepreneur, who often aspires to build and structure a business in a way that will allow him or her to profit on its sale in the future, and being a solopreneur, who wants to go into business mainly in search of autonomy and professional or creative freedom. Of course, eventually, a solopreneur may have similar desires and agendas to a “classic” entrepreneur in mind but, more often than not, pursuit of freedom and self-agency remains at the foreground of their attention and efforts.
Once you spend enough time in the company of solopreneurs, it becomes apparent that what most of them seek is:
- A sense of personal freedom and ability to do things “their way”.
- A chance to combine what they love with what they are good at, while offering some value to the world.
- To become, if not more time-rich than, at least, more time-flexible.
- A way of prioritising their own view about what “good life” entails to what other people, or the society, tries to impose on them.
You may have noticed, from your own experience or from observing the longings of other people in your life that, that for many of us, the above proposition feels quite attractive in itself, whereas the process of taking any practical steps towards its manifestation often does not come easily. Naturally, the thought of letting go of secure income from your job (if you are used to having it) and “being on your own” feels rather scary. You don’t really know if your new endeavour is going to succeed or, if it does, how long it would take and how you would be able to support yourself (and those who depend on you) and, yet, you have no other way to know this other than by trying it out. As a result, what happens is that many people end up sitting “on the fence” for years, fantasising and playing with all sorts of ideas of having their own business, but never actually doing anything about it. Does this sound familiar?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against being employed and rewarded by the organisation that employs you for your skills and knowledge. I also believe that having your own business is not for everyone – just like Monica from Friends said “marriage is not for everyone”! One has to have some particular personality qualities as well as life values to enjoy life as an entrepreneur. Among such values and qualities, you would often find the following:
- Ability to think “outside of the box”
- Good insight into people’s needs and desires
- Tolerance of a certain level of risk
- Healthy optimism
In conclusion, I would say that, if you feel that you resonate strongly with the above values and qualities, but still hesitate to follow your creative muse and start your own business, here is what I encourage you to do. For a week, spend about 30 minutes each day when you cannot be interrupted and focus your attention to do the following:
- Name what’s most important to you in life (your core values);
- List your best professional skills and personal qualities;
- Brainstorm how you can combine the previous two points in your unique business offer;
- Define what ‘success’ would feel like to you (this is super important!);
- Figure out what you need to research;
- Decide what’s your next step forward (that includes the possibility of abandoning the idea of entrepreneurship all together because, on close reflection, you realised it’s not for you – sometimes this is the best outcome as it potentially saves you lots of time, energy and headache.)
And, if you ever get stuck or feel you want someone to be your sounding board in this process, get in touch and we will do it together!
To inspire your exploration, I want to finish by quoting Albert Einstein who once said:
“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom.”