Be an Entrepreneur

Why You Probably Shouldn’t Be an Entrepreneur

You don’t need me to tell you that one of the world’s most common gripes is “I hate my job”. “If only were the boss, I could do a way better job!” say basically all of my friends stuck in the icy grip of a mediocre-paying corporate job. “You know, give it 2 years, and I’ll go start my own company.  It’s my passion: I’ll get to do what I want all day long, get to work less, and be a manager!”

On the outside, I smile.  On the inside, I roll my eyes.

I am acutely aware that my well-intentioned friends have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

And given that their reasons for wanting to have their own business are along the lines of above, they would probably be doomed for failure if they did try to start.

You probably shouldn’t bother trying to start your own business.

With a slight flare of anger, you ask: “How could you say that RC?  Are you just afraid of risk, you weakling!  Don’t try to poison others’ confidence, you wastrel!”

Actually, I’ve started multiple companies, and though they’re all still in development, everything’s going great.  It’s one of the most rewarding—and most scary—undertakings in my life.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And it’s because I’ve done this myself that I can say authoritatively: you probably should not try to start your own business.


The #1 Secret of Entrepreneurship: There Are No Secrets

When you think of starting your own business, do you worry that “only the lucky are successful”?  Or “you need to have a great idea at the beginning in order to be successful”?  That you “need to learn to program” or that you should “follow your passion and the money will follow”?

If you think any of these things, I guarantee you that you haven’t actually done anything at all to learn about entrepreneurship and starting your own business.

Because if you had, you’d know that success in business is formulaic; a function of setting and following an oft-tried and essentially-proven system for success.  That formula, repeated over the long-term, delivers results.

For example, consider my blog (which I consider a business), and this article here on Famous Bloggers.  Writing contributing posts for others’ blogs (like mine for Famous Bloggers) is a tried-and-proven way to drive traffic to your own blog.

Increasing your site visits is formulaic.  I know if I write 5 guest posts per month, I will get about 500 new visitors, and 30 new subscribers.  Then, you rinse and repeat.  Following the system is a guaranteed way to build blog followers and subscribers.

I didn’t come up with this on my own.

I went and I read about it from the other successful bloggers who have written and given countless interviews on this topic.

But how many people would have taken the ~200+ hours I did before starting the blog to prepare, learn the system, and execute in a pre-defined manner?  How many people would actually write 5-10 guest posts per month?

Very few people, that’s who (including me a year ago, with my old blog that completely failed after hundreds of hours of work…what a waste of time).  The average Joe’s going to get wrapped up in over-romanticized thoughts about “passive income” and “writing about their passion”…thinking about sitting in a hammock in Rocky Point, tanning and writing 2 hours per day as the dough flows in.  They’ll think their blog is already “awesome”, and that guest posts are “beneath them”.

Success in business isn’t about being fed up with your boss, wanting passive income, quitting the 9-5, following your passion…or any other overly-emotional, substance-lacking reason.  If any of those are your sole motivating factor for starting a business, you should seriously reconsider.

Business is about learning the skillset of developing a repeatable, formulaic system for creating revenue.

And that goes back to the original question “why?”  If you’re not willing to pursue best-practices by planning and system-creation, and your main driving factor is emotion, you’d likely fail anyway (like I did with my first blog).  So if your approach is wrong from the get-go, why bother trying?

Success in business means hundreds of hours learning, planning, and setting goals, all before even spending 1 hour trying to sell a product.

Luckily for you, though, you’re not reinventing the wheel.  Learn from those who have done it before, and success is much more likely.

Success in starting your own business is entirely possible.  I know hundreds of people who have.  But it’s the realists and the pragmatists who succeed…those who follow a system and stick with it through tough times, and those who aren’t driven by superfluous emotions that win in the end.

So I ask you: why do you want to start a business?

Think long and hard, ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you try, and have a system.  There’s so many resources available to help you (my blog, and the writings of far more well-known writers and entrepreneurs to boot).  Make a smart decision with your time and money, and you can be successful.

Image © alphaspirit – Fotolia.com

I''m R.C. Thornton; I am a startup founder, and write at Decoding Startups (http://www.decodingstartups.com/). I help aspiring entrepreneurs how to go from excuses to launch by teaching systems that demystify entrepreneurship.


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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • L. Richy February 25, 2013, 7:32 am

    True that. People should NEVER start a business if they’re only led by emotion (idealism, frustrations with current job, etc). Entrepreneurship is not something one can simply decide on and actually achieve. That said, I really like the recurring points in this article: business is formulaic and learning its basics take a really long time for one to become an effective entrepreneur. It’s just so spot on.

    • RC Thornton February 25, 2013, 11:34 am

      Absolutely. You have to be willing to be in it for the long-haul, and not get overly tied up in the short term excitement of “being an entrepreneur”.

  • Mike February 17, 2013, 2:25 pm

    There is a lot of wisdom in this post. I will say that some people just HAVE to be an entrepreneur. There is no other option for them and no one can convince them out of it. For these people, they are going to persevere no matter what and for as long as it takes for them to accomplish what they set out to do. I think that is what you’re getting at in this post – that the people who are deeply invested and committed to being an entrepreneur are the ones who should go for it.

    • RC Thornton February 25, 2013, 11:36 am

      You said it perfectly! Some people just like the idea of “being an entrepreneur” but probably won’t persevere to get to the point of being successful. Frankly, I see that all of the time when I go to startup or entrepreneurship events where people say they are working on a startup but they “haven’t met with their team since September 2012″…how does that even work?

      I’m not trying to pick on anyone! But I would really like people to understand that they should be in entrepreneurship to learn, and not to just think they’re going to strike it rich right off the bat!

  • Sarah Park February 17, 2013, 2:53 am

    I think being an entrepreneurship is a talent not everybody has. It takes a lot of passion and dedication to become a successful entrepreneur.

    • RC Thornton February 25, 2013, 11:37 am

      You said it perfectly Sarah. It’s not for everyone, and the best thing to do is not to have an over-romanticized view of what entrepreneurship actually is.

  • Kumar Gauraw February 15, 2013, 9:32 am

    Such an awesome blog post on entrepreneurship. If you ask what I liked the most, it would be –
    ” Secret of Entrepreneurship: There Are No Secrets”. That is so absolutely true.
    Being an entrepreneur is a thing of mindset and there is certain level of maturity in thinking, planning and execution is required to be able to make it as a success. Wonderful post.

  • David Leonhardt February 14, 2013, 9:25 am

    “Business is about learning the skillset of developing a repeatable, formulaic system for creating revenue.” That’s the problem. The focus is all on money. But life is not about money. And if you have a hard time separating business and life – as most entrepreneurs do – you won’t be happy or you won’t be successful (or possibly, you won’t be either).

    • RC Thornton February 14, 2013, 2:19 pm

      Hey David,

      I agree life’s not all about making money. But business is, at its core, about making money or profiting. If you’re not doing either of those things, you may have been better off just sitting at home and not having done anything.

      I do wholeheartedly agree with you in that entrepreneurs (myself included) have trouble separating business from the rest of life, and that often leads to frustration!

  • Evan February 13, 2013, 3:43 am

    That’s quite an inspiring post. But there is another side of the medal, you can be both – an office worker with more or less good pay but boring routine work and a happy IT/cook/pet blogger earning some extra money and getting pretty much of satisfaction that you can’t get from you office work. What do you think about that? !

    • RC Thornton February 13, 2013, 3:41 pm

      I agree; plenty of people start successful side businesses. It’s all about setting goals and knowing what you’re trying to accomplish.

      Entrepreneurship comes in all shapes and sizes, not just one. A side business is a perfect way to go!

  • Joe Hart February 13, 2013, 3:13 am

    Entrepreneurship is a risky business but at the same time highly rewarding..But the sad truth is that it takes years until we learn to manage our ventures the right way..Advices like the ones mentioned in this posts are much appreciated..It enhances the perspective of budding entrepreneurs.Cheers

    • RC Thornton February 13, 2013, 3:40 pm

      Absolutely right Joe! I don’t know if anyone actually ever does fully figure it out lol… The reward for entrepreneurship is in the long-term, and for those who aren’t interested in that long-term perspective, success will most certainly be umnet!

  • Luke Sousa February 12, 2013, 6:51 pm

    Here here, although and I mean no disrepect by this but I think this is slowly and welcomingly becoming more and more of common knowledge. The web is notorious for exposing ugly truths over time and I think eventually everybody will approach MMO a lot more carefully and thoughtfully. Even those outside of MMO can easily find the horrifying statistics on any small business just about anywhere now a days.

    • RC Thornton February 13, 2013, 3:42 pm

      Absolutely. I just hope that people have an authentic understanding of what goes into entrepreneurship before they try!

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