The entrepreneurial life might be draining, yet at the same time, it is often highly rewarding. There is a mixture of excitement, stress, hard-work and insecurity that provide a foundation for the eventual sense of disappointment or accomplishment when a project is completed. There is no universal reason of WHY to do it, and no universal definitions of success. Everyone needs to answer the question for themselves. Everyone needs to weight the costs/benefits for oneself. What everyone should do, is to THINK. Think it through. Think what constitutes a reward? What constitutes a success? What is that you want to do with your life? With your time? With your creativity? There is a wide divergence of opinions on the topic.
The most conventional reason to do it, is for the money; because the bottom line is perceived as the supreme objective. But there are other reasons for pursuing entrepreneurship. There is the rush, excitement and spirit of creativity. The is also the experience of being a part of the team, which shares the joy of achieving something together. Additionally, there is also the joy of being free and deciding what to do on your own: of being your own boss. It is not all easy, but it’s not rocket science either. At the end of the day you have to do something that somehow benefits others; everything else is just a side effect.
The vast majority of entrepreneurs in New Zealand form 1-3 person companies, where the company is 100% owned by the employees. They simply work for themselves. Over 75% of all companies are like that. However, most of these companies will not be a huge financial success (as compared to inflated Silicon Valley-like standards). So perhaps the freedom is the most compelling and exciting motivation for those small, family-like businesses. They get to decide where, when and how to employ their creative capacities.
Entrepreneurship means different things to different people. During the industrial revolution, the conventional entrepreneur was of a wealthy person who built a factory, then hired the ignorant and poor for their cheap labour to quickly produce mass quantities of a product at a much lower cost. The value added was distilled from the management skills, cheap-unskilled labour and time-to-market with commoditized products. That image still persists. But, the world is shrinking and information is more democratically distributed now. Nearly anyone can learn to succeed, if they expend the effort. The Internet has made it possible for people to educate themselves in almost any skill they choose. Granted: the gaps between the wealthy and the poor are possibly wider then ever. But some barriers have fallen. Knowledge is more universally accessible now. In the knowledge based economy, for the niche products, that prototypical capital intensive industrial-revolution model no longer fits.
How about inventors? Where they fit into the picture? It all boils down to the value YOU bring in.
If you are a leader, who can organise a good skilled team, and motivate it to produce high-quality products, then this is what you should do. You should do what you are best at, and hire people to do the product development, perhaps even hire inventors, programmers, etc. They then will build for you what you have dreamed up. If being a leader, an organiser, a manager drives you, fills you up with joy, and all the positive excitement, then go and do it.
But this is not the only way to dive into entrepreneurship. In fact, in New Zealand, there are very few companies which pursue entrepreneurship in this fashion.
What if you are an inventor? What if you’re a creative person yourself: someone who can envision an innovative product and then build it? Then go ahead and do just it! It is easier than ever before to invent and develop your own products, then sell and ship them to end-customers. There are new distribution and media channels that will enable you to pursue these goals. You can even reach people from the mobile platform of your laptop.
There is no single way of doing business. There is no single way of being an entrepreneur. The world is changing, and some of the old models are collapsing as we go. Invent your own way. Go and do it. Remember – do not give in into status quo, and do not trade your heroes for ghosts…
For me personally, yes, it is all about really hard work; but it’s also about tinkering, figuring things out, learning new things, challenging myself, doing what I love doing, building something real and helping others. Above all, it’s about my family and friends walking shoulder to shoulder with me as we pursue our common dreams.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.” Confucious