BY: BYRON MOORE, CFP®
posted April 30, 2018
Question: My wife and I are having a disagreement and want your input. I very much want to own and run my own business. I have had three different jobs in three years, each in a different field. I tell her I am trying to find the right field to suit me. She just wants me to settle down and hold a steady job. This sounds like torture to me. What should I do?
Answer: It has been said that every entrepreneur has committed employment suicide – that they are terminally unemployable.
An entrepreneur simply cannot see himself working for anyone else or allowing someone else to control his time.
Unfortunately, these traits are also true of bums.
So how does one know the difference? How do you know if you are an entrepreneur in the making or a bum looking for any excuse to avoid responsibility?
Two character traits define the nature of a successful entrepreneur: defined discipline and responsible risk-taking.
Without an adequate amount of both, you’ll never get off the ground; or if you do, you’ll soon fall to earth in a terrific ball of flames.
First, what is “defined discipline”? Defined discipline is the ability to focus your energies in a specific direction for a sustained period of time to accomplish a predetermined goal. In short, it is self-control.
Second, what is “responsible risk-taking”? A responsible risk-taker is willing to expose himself to the possibility of a loss in order to make a gain. But this kind of risk-taking is always calculated to make a gain. It is never mere gambling or speculation. It is a smart risk.
If you are a person who is high in defined discipline, but low in responsible risk-taking, you may end up being a manager. And managers are great! We need more good managers. But managers are not entrepreneurs.
The thought of taking a big risk (responsible though it may be) sends chills down a manager’s spine. He thinks more about what can be lost than about what may be gained.
If you are a person who is high in risk-taking, but low in discipline, you are a hot dog – someone who loves risk for the thrill it gives him. But once the thrill is gone and the new is worn off, you move on to something else.
When properly managed, hot dogs can make great project people or salespeople. On the front end of a new project, hot dogs are full of dynamic energy, but they need a consistent amount of change throughout their lives to stay interested in their work. Hot dogs tend to make poor entrepreneurs.
And though it may be painfully obvious, if you are a person low in discipline and low in risk-taking, you most certainly do not have an entrepreneurial personality.
What you are is an employee who will probably require a fair amount of oversight (remember, you lack self-discipline) and will respond to the security of a long-term job. Again, this person would not make a good entrepreneur, either.
It has been my observation that most of us are born leaning towards one side or the other – we tend to be risk-takers who love a party or we tend to be disciplined types who avoid risk. Yet we can grow that side of our personality we were not naturally born with.
Your description of yourself indicates you lean toward to risk-taker end of the scale. And your wife is afraid you may be low on the discipline thing.
Be honest. Are you?
If so, now is the time to admit it and work on increasing the self-discipline side of your character. In your present job, set a rigorous schedule for yourself and stick to it. Set goals for yourself that exceed those of your employer’s. Show yourself (and your wife) that you can work smart and work hard.
Because if you want to one day own your own business, you’ll be called on to work hard, work smart and take risks unlike any time before in your life.
Self-discipline. Smart risk-taking. They are the two indispensable elements present in any successful entrepreneur.
Are they in you?