People often think an entrepreneur is about risk-taking and I hear this a lot “not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur”.
Neither of these statements are true.
1) An entrepreneur DOES NOT take risks.
The entire job is to reduce risks. Else an entrepreneur will fail. There are many ways to reduce risks and I had to learn this the hard way.
Example: Before I started one of my companies, Stockpickr, I guaranteed an ad deal that would net me $90,000 a month starting immediately.
I had one partner, no employees, and no risk.
Otherwise I would not have taken the risk of going into that business.
Example 2: My first successful business, Reset, started while I was a full time employee at HBO.
I stayed a full time employee for 18 months until Reset was generating enough money that I would not have to go down in income if I made the jump full time.
And I had clients to make sure Reset would stay in business for at least another 12 months in the worst case scenario.
This is how I cut out risk.
2) When people say “not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur” I am confused.
An EMPLOYEE is the biggest risk-taker.
It’s like the turkey that is fed well every day and then on Thanksgiving is surprised when the machete comes out.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb says the three greatest addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a stable income.
Even within the confines of working for a company, an employee must be an “entre-ployee” Constantly connecting dots, looking for opportunities, seeking out the place least crowded, in order to find and then protect and grow their success.
At HBO, for instance, they didn’t have a website (1995) so I carved out my space there by going from lowly IT slave to being in charge of their website.
Humans have always been entrepreneurs.
70,000 years ago we hunted for food and shared or bartered with the tribe. 10,000 years ago the most successful humans were merchants, farmers, military leaders, religious leaders – all entrepreneurial efforts.
To not cultivate the entrepreneurial aspects of our lives is to become the serfs and slaves of the ones who do.
Whether we are employees, entrepreneurs, artists, “lifestyle entrepreneurs”, side-hustlers, etc – we must always go to the place least crowded, nourish our unique abilities, and provide service to society that gets rewarded.
Without doing this, we lead lives of simmering anxiety. We will always feel like we have the potential for more More MORE but we won’t know what.
We will have an itch. We will have sleepless nights wondering “what if?”. We will wonder if the canvas we created our life on is a work of art or something to be discarded.
And then we peter out, leaving no stamp behind on this world that was so eager to give bloom to our potential.
I hate traditional entrepreneurship. I’m not a businessman although I know the rules of the game. I don’t like sales but I can sell things I believe in. I hate negotiation. I hate to manage other people.
Every time I started a business, from 1987 until now, I always told myself, “Never again! I hate this.” And I truly do.
I started a food delivery business in my college in 1987. I started an Internet-based chess server in 1992. “Never again!”
But I did again. And again. And again.
I’m an entrepreneur, like the rest of us. And I always will be.