Thursday, January 17, 2008

When not to be an Entrepreneur

While its a dream of many to become a boss or entrepreneur, there are other reasons why you maybe better off working for others. Its great to be on your own doing what you love to do and driving the business the way you want it but at the same time if you know how to manage those expectations, you can also do what you love at the same time working for others.

This blog was inspired by Robert Scoble on why he is going to Fast Company and not starting on his own. I had always been enterprising and had even started a few startups myself and constantly had little reasons why one should not be starting up on his own. Scoble's blog certainly had been thinking for a while especially I m also in the midst of reading the 4-hour-work-week by Timothy Ferris's book which i will talk about later below.
Scoble is a smart and talented person. He is inspiring and at the same time provided valuable information and knowledge to many of us. In his blog he has listed down why he has little passion for doing business on his own.

1 . I don’t love doing much except for interviewing and blogging and my family. I’ve run the books at UserLand Software. I hated that. I’ve tried managing people at PodTech and found that I wasn’t particularly interested in doing more of it (which is one reason why Rocky’s going to play a key role in the development/production of the network — it’s important that we build a strong team, but I’d rather focus more of my energies on getting great content than on finding and keeping great people).

2. Building a diverse set of income requires a sales crew and attention to client happiness. It’s one thing to take care of one sponsor. It’s a whole nother thing to make magic happen for a wide range of sponsors. That takes a team of professionals. I don’t have the time, nor the skills, to build a world-class sales team and if I took the time that’d cause me to take my eye off of doing my videos, which would be the life-blood of the organization.

3. Setting up a business requires a ton of other tasks. HR. Banking. Invoicing. All the other drudge work that takes time away from doing interviews, going on photowalks, reading feeds, hanging out and networking with industry leaders, etc that leads to great content.

4. Doing a business is stressful on everyone involved. Om Malik’s heart attack had an impact on me. So did Marc Orchant’s death. Life is too short and if that means I leave a few million on the table because I gave up equity in my own thing, so be it. I’m happiest when behind a camera talking with someone like Doug Engelbart or taking Patrick, my son, to MacWorld. Anything other than that I’m going to outsource, ala “the Four Hour Workweek.”

5. Brand extension is hard when running your ass off to build your own business. For instance, I want to build communities that lead to interesting events. But if I did my own business, running an event team would have to wait until I got my business on solid ground. That could be a year or more. That would mean opportunities lost. Fast Company and Inc have awesome event and marketing teams — I’ve been to their events and if I wanted to build a team like that it’d take capital, time, and talent that I don’t have.

6. Getting access to things, when running your own business, is tougher. Yeah, I can get access to a lot of things, but did Steve Jobs invite me to attend his keynote at MacWorld? No. If I was part of a bigger team with a more established brand, would it be more likely that I’d get invited? Yes.

I completely understand Scoble's reasons for joining Fast Company and not trying to start a business on his own. He was honest with himself about what he is good at, what he wants to do, and what it really takes to make a business successful. Do you have what it takes to be on your own? or you are better off working for others and I m sure you can still achieve what you want in life.

I m in the middle of reading a very inspiring book by Timothy Ferris, the 4-hour-work-week as mentioned above. Its a best seller and i strongly recommend that you read it if you can get hold of one. It certainly had opened the way i look at things even though i havent finished reading it. Do not read it unless you want to quit your job. haha...

This is a book that will guide you through the concept of doing less but but achieving more. It teaches you to forget the old concept of retirement as there is no need to defer you life plans all the way to the end. It wil help you to escape the rat race and get the best of life. It doesnt mean you drop your work and pack your bags to the Maldives rather it teaches you how to maximize your time and achieving more. Even Scoble had read it too. Life is short, dont wait till the end to enjoy the fruits that you had been saving for 30-35 years.

I m definitely going to re-evaluate all over again and see whether i m better off working for myself or I could achieve the equivalent or more working for others. There is no right and wrong to what we decide afterall as Richard Branson had famously quoted it, "Screw it, just do it."

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