Not everyone is born for the traditional 9-to-5 job. And not everyone is a born entrepreneur. While many Americans prefer the security of working for others, others prefer the risk of starting their own businesses and positioning themselves for substantial rewards.
But is entrepreneurship a smart choice? It can be, but only for the right kind of person.
Here are some reasons you might be better suited to be a business-builder than a rank-and-file employee.
You crave an open-ended job description.
When you work for an employer, only those at the very top have much say in how the company is run. You're more likely to have a set of daily tasks, with virtually no control over the big picture. Some people prefer the safety and clarity of such a defined role. But for those with a more entrepreneurial mindset, an unvarying routine can lead to stifling job dissatisfaction.
When you start your own business, you determine the company's strategy. Your job description is limited only by your imagination, and that challenge enables born entrepreneurs to thrive.
You believe in 'everything ventured, everything gained.'
It's important to feel appreciated. Unfortunately, very few top-performing people feel truly valued in their workplaces. In the dog-eat-dog world of office politics, people sometimes rush to take credit for others' ideas.
When you own your own business, it's clear where the ideas originate. Every success depends on your hard work and ability to pick the right staff members to carry out your vision. Not to mention that no one has anything to gain by downplaying the boss' successes.
While many startups struggle at least initially, you can end up making substantially more money than you ever could at an office job. If your idea is a good one or your product fills a genuine need, you will find a solid market.
Those who stick with the 9-to-5 route always will face obstacles as they try to advance in the company: competition from peers, salary ceilings or even a frustrating lack of vision from company management. Frankly, some top executives believe they have more to gain if they keep high achievers in career pigeonholes.
If you're the one building the business, however, you stand to earn the biggest rewards. That's not to say you shouldn't share the wealth with those who help make your vision a reality -- just the opposite. Smart bosses reward committed, high-quality employees. But the buck stops with you in every aspect of your business, and those who shoulder the risk deserve to reap the benefits.
You answer to the toughest boss: yourself.
No one likes answering to a supervisor, particularly if you believe your higher-ups lack real vision. But it's not enough to simply chafe at authority. You must know you can do better and -- perhaps counterintuitively -- have a solid grasp of your limitations, as well.
No one excels at every element in business, so it's crucial to recruit those whose skills fill in your gaps. Suppose you're a genius at developing, marketing and selling products. But maybe you lack the "soft" skills to manage a team. It takes real emotional intelligence to strike a balance between demanding excellence from your team and applying diplomacy that makes for a cohesive, motivated workforce. Knowing your deficits and identifying the best people to correct those shortcomings is vital to lasting success.
You learn from every failure.
Only 18 percent of first-time startups succeed. The odds of success get a little better with each fresh try, but not by much. The entrepreneur's road certainly is no place for lightweights.
"It's not easy, and it's definitely not for everyone," says Trevor Gerszt, founder and CEO of Goldco Precious Metals, a fast-growing gold IRA company. "But if you have both the vision and, most vitally, the day-to-day discipline to achieve that vision, there's actually no limit to how big you can become."
Here are some of the qualities you'll need to succeed as an entrepreneur.
- Tireless work ethic. You must be ready to work harder than all your friends and willing to give up free time (even family time) to meet your goals. Your customers don't care that you're just getting started. They need product. In the years before you can afford to hire support staff, you'll be the one running every department, late into the night. The rewards will come, but the universe will make you earn them.
- Authentic leadership. There are many different leadership styles, and you shouldn't try to mimic one that doesn't ring true for you. But even introverts must be able to evangelize the benefits of their company's products or services. The one great key? Harness the power of your belief in what you've created and the value it represents to your customer.
- Unquestionable integrity. A jaded public is one of the greatest challenges to business success. A segment of your customers have learned through bitter experience to approach every transaction with caution. If you want to gain customers for life, treat them with the same degree of integrity you expect to see in business relationships. Don't upsell them if the more expensive product isn't right for them. Integrity shows you respect your customer, employee, suppliers, partners and yourself. And cutting corners is ultimately a betrayal of your business brand.
- Empathy. If a customer has a problem, listen and make it right. Too many businesspeople view each customer as a single transaction. Understand that a customer who trusts you isn't one customer; he or she is the potential source of enthusiastic recommendations to friends, family and colleagues. The converse is also true -- and social media gives dissatisfied customers a longer reach than ever before.
The true entrepreneur is a rare breed: a mix of dreamer and tireless bulldog, working every day to create something that exists only in the individual's mind and heart. So, again, business-builder or rank and file? It's a tough choice to make, but it could be the life-changer you've been searching for.