Note: Since 2012, I have spent some of my time working with wantrepreneurs to help them determine if the entrepreneurial route makes sense for them and their families. I believe someone's wiring can make all the difference. To that end, I wrote an Amazon Best Seller Wantrepreneur: Do You Have What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur?
Earlier this year I published a book: Wantrepreneur: Do You Have What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur? In the book I defined a term wantrepreneur"...although this term has been used in the past in some circles - usually by entrepreneurs who have a tendency to look down on the "wantres" because, in their eyes, they have not accomplished anything. I approach the term with a different albeit more optimistic lens. In the same book I defined a concept called "e-band".
What's a wantrepreneur?
You have not yet landed on the e-band and you're still assessing whether or not doing something entrepreneurial or independent makes sense for you.
You have the U2 song "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" playing in the back of your head playing.
You're one of those disengaged employees currently working and you're thinking to yourself: "One of these days, I'm gonna do something on my own. I'm gonna be my own boss."
You're seeking "the idea."
You're waiting for "the right time."
You like watching popular reality shows such as "Shark Tank" and you think to yourself: "Eventually, I want to be on that show. I just need to come up with the idea."
You might have landed on the e-band! You already know where or have strong a sense as to where you fall on the e-band yet you've not turned on the neon "open" sign, literal or figurative. You haven't taken the step to become an entrepreneur.
You're plotting and plotting and plotting your escape from corporate America and a JOB. In other words, it's an aspiration yet you're challenged to make the move.
Your actions don't match your aspirations. You're constantly aspiring to do something entrepreneurial yet you know you need to do certain things to become an entrepreneur, you hesitate or you do not follow through on what it is you need to do to make that step.
You might be a wantrepreneur because you lack CLARITY.
If there are one or multiple scenarios above where you fall, You're not alone. Your opportunity is to learn whether you can make the transition to entrepreneurship. With that said, let's first delve into the concept of entrepreneurship and we'll come full circle back to the wantrepreneur.
What's an entrepreneur?
There's a quote from a once-popular cable show, "The Entourage", "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life, like most people won't, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't."
For some, if you ask for their reaction to that definition, that's what they'd envision. When we apply that definition and ask the question, "Who do we think of?" We think of entrepreneurs who created multi-billion dollar enterprises. We think of the someone who started from nothing and started out of a garage. Hewlett Packard is one example. Think of the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak), who started Apple Computer, basically farming computer chips, creating motherboards, "borrowing" technology ideas (e.g. graphical user interface, icons, and a thing called a mouse) thus creating something called an Apple Computer. Or, Michael Dell, selling computer stuff out of his dorm room.
Yes, those are some of the legends in that space. Go back even further, you'll think of Henry Ford, and how he used the concept of mass production to produce the Model T, a product up to that point only a small portion of general population could afford to buy. As a result, a greater number of people were able to buy the product at a mass produced investment level (i.e. less).
Other entrepreneurs of note:
Oprah Winfrey - Media Magnet
Walt Disney - Animation theme park company
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter book series
John Paul DeJoria - Paul Mitchell hair products and for Patron Tequila
Madam CJ Walker - Beauty and hair products
Andrew Carnegie - Carnegie Steel Mill
Benjamin Franklin - Scientist, printer, politician, inventor, author, diplomat, and savvy businessman.
John D. Rockefeller - Standard Oil Company
Hans Christian Anderson - Author
Bill Gates - Co-founder of Microsoft
The reality of it though, at the core, is the definition of an entrepreneur is a bit different than what's being positioned in the definition, provided by The Entourage. Which brings us to the question, what's an entrepreneur, really?
What's an entrepreneur really?
The definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary, defines entrepreneur as "One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risk and rewards of a business or enterprise." I like this definition because it speaks to what an entrepreneur really is. At the end of the day, when you apply this definition to the concept of entrepreneurship, you get into this category I call the "e-Band". More on the "e-Band" in a little bit.
Are entrepreneurs born or made?
- There are traits entrepreneurs possess.
- Entrepreneurs are not necessarily born.
- New Entrepreneurs over 40 rock!
Researchers have concluded there are entrepreneurial attributes people possess. Some show up as "dominant" (i.e. natural abilities AKA "gifts" / talents / strengths), some as "contributing" (in other words, you can turn them off and on but it requires focus), some as "supporting" (actually it's weak - you'll need help with that).
According to the same researchers, they determined entrepreneurial attributes are "set" as early as someone turns 14 years old with the average American possessing 2 dominant attributes. Based on a recent sampling, the average Inc. 500 CEO had 4 dominant attributes.
The researchers also identified that new entrepreneurs over the age of 40 have a higher propensity of succeeding in their ventures. This begs to support that although entrepreneurs are not necessarily born since their traits for entrepreneurship may not be entirely developed into strengths by age 14: it takes time; education; life/work experiences to hone and develop those attributes. Some attributes will flourish. Some will be developed and others will not be activated/enhanced regardless of how much time / effort is expended.
The key is to figure out if you have any that have flourished and been enhanced and which ones you would need help. Hint: an coach can help you figure that out!
Now, what is the "e-band"?
This is a concept, where the "E" stands for entrepreneur. When you look at the concept of entrepreneurship, and an entrepreneur, you'll see that there's a band that businesses, or types of businesses, fall in.
| Startup | Standalone | Business-in-a-Box | 1099 |
Going from left to right, you'll see a range of entrepreneurship: start up; standalone; business-in-a-box; and 1099.
When you apply the definition of entrepreneur to Webster, you notice at each section on that band, there will be one person who "organizes, manages, and assumes the risk and rewards of a business or enterprise."
What if you're not currently on the e-band?
If you're not currently on the e-band yet have thoughts of wanting to fall in/join the band, I affectionately call you a wantrepreneur - people at that professional fork in the road, who are not sure they want to go down this road. You'll have an opportunity to discern through the process outlined in this book whether or not you fit on this e-band. There'll be more on the concept of the wantrepreneur after we spend time to define the e-band.
If you fit on this e-band, where on this e-band will you be best aligned to focus? Still not sure? Keep reading.
Again, don't fret! As you read, we'll give you a mechanism by which you can achieve just that: clarity as to whether or not you fall on the e-band and where potentially you might be predisposed to fall.
DEFINING CLARITY, HOW TO DETERMINE IF OR WHERE YOU FALL ON THE E-BAND?
There's a formula you can apply to achieve clarity. The formula: (R+F+I+E+R) C1 = C2
What does that formula mean?
(Reflection + Feedback + Insight + Education + Resources) multiplied by your degree of Confidence, will equal Clarity.
The opportunity you have going forward is to assess and determine in a step-by-step process if doing something entrepreneurial is an option. For the remainder of the blog, I'll review what each step looks like and how you can begin to gain clarity as to whether or not doing something entrepreneurial is in your best interest or not.
Ideally, this would be something you feel strong enough that it's worth having a coach facilitate with the objective of getting you to the point of clarity.
Reflection has multiple phases. In this case, three: 1. Retrospective; 2. Current state; and 3. Future focus.
1. Retrospective - will be where you look back on your career. As the questions below will illustrate, there's a series of questions you can begin to ask yourself to begin to zero in on your previous career or your previous experiences in corporate America.
Some questions you can ask yourself:
I was having the most fun when...
I was having the least fun when...
I was at my best when...
I was at my worst when...
I don't enjoy...
I imagine myself being…
What’s most important to me is…
When I'm not working I like to...
2. Current state - Where you begin to understand and reflect on what your current state is in your job/current quest. Below are suggested strategies for how to identify where you are in your current state.
Have an assessment done! (That's what I do for my clients!)
I’m at my best when…
I enjoy a job when…
I'm good at...
People say I'm good at...
When I'm not working, I enjoy...
3. Future state - is where you put your "magic wand" in your hand and you reflect on a 1, 3-to-5, 5-to-10-year vision where you're reflecting outward to see what you want your life to be like in 1, 3, 5, 10 years. Below are suggested questions to help you begin to identify what life can look like for you in the future.
- If you looked at your life a year from today, what has to have happened, both personally and professionally, for you to be happy with your progress?
- How much income do I need to support my lifestyle in 1, 3, 5, 10 years respectively?
- What would I like more/less of in 1, 3-5, 7-10 years?
- How many hours a week do I want to work in 1, 3-5, 7-10 years?
- What STRATEGIES can I take to reach my goals and achieve SUCCESS?
- What TACTICS can I take to reach my goals and achieve SUCCESS?
Feedback for what you're aspiring to do, what you're assessing about the opportunity of doing something entrepreneurial is going to be very important for you. The feedback can be driven by technology where you can have access to an assessment that will literally measure your entrepreneurial attributes. It can be driven by feedback from a coach. It can also be driven by feedback from family, friends, and peers.
A note about family, friends, and peer feedback...
You should take feedback from family, friends, and peers with a grain of salt. They will insert their own fears, hesitations, and challenges into their responses. As well-intentioned as family, friends, and peers can be, providing feedback for the possibilities of doing something entrepreneurial, be prepared for people who will not be as supportive as you would need or as objective about what you're assessing. That's why having a coach with no vested interest other than you achieving clarity is critical.
Perhaps a trusted adviser instead!
Sure you can share your thoughts and ideas with family, friends, and peers, yet, at the end of the day, you might be better served to rely on the insights of a trusted adviser. Someone who can act a sounding board and someone not tied to the outcome.
What about your gut?
The third level of feedback you can derive is your gut. Don't underestimate how you're feeling internally about the opportunity.
How will you know?
A number of years ago, my wife, Mary Martha, and I made the decision to adopt two children from Russia - not by any means to infer adopting two children from Russia is akin to becoming an entrepreneur - at the end of the story, you'll appreciate the intent.
When we were trying to find and to learn about the children who could become our own, we were given the opportunity to meet with children - one boy and one girl - a day. After meeting with the orphanage director and doctor and being with the infants for an hour or so, we were driven back to our hotel and the next morning we had to let the Russian officials know whether or not we wanted to adopt the boy, girl, or both.
This went on for a few days and, at times, became heart-wrenching, as you can imagine, knowing our decision was going to mean the difference of a child staying at an orphanage or a child eventually coming home to be our children. During the process, the one piece of advice we received, which relates to your journey - you will know when you know.
Try not to pressure yourself too much to make a decision. If you "lean in" on a coach, journey of discovery, educate yourself, get feedback, have an open mind as well as the other suggested steps, over time you'll be able to listen to your gut and it will feel right. Never underestimate the power of your gut.
Insight will come throughout this process. I call them the "aha moments". Seeking a second set of eyes, ears, brain and seeking someone's insight is important. You WILL gain insight, whether insight you arrived at on your own or insight provided from your coach, trusted advisor or insight you gain from reading and accumulating information. The insight will provide you reinforcement whether going down the entrepreneurial road makes sense.
The next phase toward gaining clarity is education. There are numerous educational resources that exist to help you learn about and to become more comfortable with opportunities on the entrepreneurial band that might make sense for you to pursue. One of those sources includes the education provided by alternative career coaches. My team and I do this every day with our clients. Part of your education will be driven by your interaction with that type of resource(s).
What if I've landed on what I want to pursue?
Outside a coach there's also a number of groups that specialize in helping people who are the wantrepreneur who have landed on what they want to do, specifically:
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Service Corps Of Retired Executives (SCORE)
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
In addition, there are numerous books written before this book that will supplement this step as well.
Additional resources you should "lean in" on to help you discern where you're at and whether or not this makes sense include:
Previously mentioned resources:
- Family / friends
- Trusted adviser
* For the Wantrepreneur who has landed on what they want to do and don't believe a coach would be a resource.
Other traditional career resources not mentioned:
- Your church
- Other church career support groups
- College alumni career development office
Multiply by your confidence
Now, couple all of those previous phases together, the next part is where you will multiply all the outputs from those steps. You multiply the sum results of (Reflection + Feedback + Insight + Education + Resources) with your level of confidence.
No accident, the more thoroughly you work through the journey of discovery and work with an alternative career coach the more confident you will become...
Let's talk about confidence...
Confidence is different for every individual. In some ways, confidence is also impacted by your perception of risk. Risk tolerance is something that's important for you to understand about yourself. Some questions to answer:
Do I have a high or low tolerance for risk?
What's the riskiest thing I've ever done?
How did I decide to do it?
What about my significant others and family members?
What have they done that was perceived as risky?
Any entrepreneurs in the family?
Do they have an aversion to risk that could inhibit me from going down this road?
Aspects of risk tolerance will impact your degree and level of confidence. The more confidence you have and the more you've been able to reduce the feeling of risk in this endeavor, then you will be able to get to a point where the holy grail will be clarity about whether or not doing something entrepreneurial makes sense or not, which leads to the concept of clarity.
Let's be clear, clarity should reinforce you to do the following:
1. Do nothing;
2. Keep your current job and prepare for your next phase...
3. Keep your current job and do something entrepreneurial on the side;
4. B-Y-O-B (be your own boss)
The key is going through the process to achieve a level of clarity. The worst thing you could do is not to try to get clarity. Imagine years from now sitting on the rocking chair starring off into the distance and wondering "what if..." or worse, the U2 song "I still haven't found what I'm looking for..." continues to play.
A note about spiritual faith: this blog has not spent time discussing an important resource - your spiritual faith. Suffice to say, whatever you believe, your faith can play an important role in helping you navigate this all-too-common life event. Please "lean in" on your faith and seek that resource in helping you navigate and you will find many of the challenges outlined may be less of an issue.
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5
My best to your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
Based out Roam - Buckhead - 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Suite 1400 (2nd Floor), Atlanta, GA 30305
Can meet at other Roam locations if appropriate: Alpharetta; Dunwoody; or Galleria