Why Are You in Business for Yourself?
I know a lot of Medium readers are entrepreneurs. But some (many?) aren’t. And I think we often forget about “them.”
You know, the men and women who toil for somebody else.
I’m here to say today, there’s no shame AT ALL in that.
In fact, if you really want to change the world, you may have more success doing it with an established company.
For example, if you work for Google, Facebook, or Tesla, for example, I can guarantee you will have a better chance at helping millions of people than if you “go it alone.”
Which brings us to the question:
Just WHY are you in business?
Why did you start it? What do you want it to be?
I understand this is a very personal question.
I also know a lot of business people have no idea.
And that’s okay, too. I’m not here to judge.
I’m here to help you find your WHY.
Now, I can’t do it for you. I just want you to think deeply about that question for a bit.
Maybe even DWELL on it for a bit.
Some people created a business out of necessity: They got fired and had to do something to pay the bills.
Others know that they’re “unemployable.” They are shitty employees.
Still others want to effect change and bring more abundance to the world.
And sure, there is lots of overlap here and a trillion reasons I left out.
But really, think about your WHY.
It’s really important that you know why you’re subjecting yourself to a life that is often very difficult.
If you’re a “one-man operation,” you are not only the doer, but the marketer, bookkeeper, accountant, and janitor.
(Maybe a few other things, too.)
It’s hard. I did that (and still am) for years.
At some point, you realize you can’t do it all. At that point, clarity may poke its head from behind the entrepreneurial clouds floating around your gray matter.
But it may not. You may experience the dreaded “overwhelm.”
Which means you bit off more than you can chew and spitting it out is a crummy solution.
(You just made a mess that only you can clean up. Enter Janitor Bill.)
So it’s really REALLY hard to be a one-man band. And you often look and feel silly.
A bit about my “Why.”
I like helping people. I think it’s in my DNA. I grew up watching my grandparents helping people.
They built a business from nothing in a service industry that no longer exists.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I was a substitute for a bit. It was the most fulfilling “job” I ever had.
Also the most challenging.
(There may be a correlation there, between what gets your rocks off and what burdens you the most. It’s that intersection I call “passion.”)
When I realized that I literally couldn’t afford to be a teacher in the Bay Area without giving up a lot, I went back into the private sector, where I’d been most of my adult life.
But the teaching bug infected me.
So I kind of moved things around in my various jobs so that I could teach and work at the same time, in the same job. That worked really well.
For a time.
Then things got dicey. My employer went “POOF!” during the 2007–2008 Great Recession and I no longer had a job.
Before that, the last time I “looked for a job,” it took me all of 60 seconds to find 2 companies that were looking for what I could offer.
I had two job offers the day I lost mine at a startup (another bubble burst, this time the “tech bubble”).
That was 2001.
In 2008–9, the job market was as frozen as the financial markets.
I couldn’t find a job. Anywhere.
So I made my own. I started a business where a large part of what I did was teach.
Internet, digital marketing, copywriting, email, social media.
But it hasn’t been easy.
I’m slowly (too slowly, if you ask me) moving to a business where my teachings are online versus one-on-one or one-to-several.
I want none-to-millions.
(You read that right. The “none” is me, done once, and delivered as many times as people want to consume it. And I’m never there, except, of course, to answer questions.)
It’s presenting some logistical challenges but I’m getting there.
Plus, I’d like to share my knowledge with more people.
I think technology and change paralyzes people, and that paralysis leaves a lot of business owners and would-be entrepreneurs broke, beaten, and scarred.
I want to help people like that.
That’s my WHY.
What is yours?
Now, the even harder question: If you don’t have a WHY, should you even be in business for yourself?
I’d say a qualified “yes,” but running a business without your WHY is even more difficult.
I know a fair number of people who own their own business, who don’t have a WHY, and who do “alright.”
But they often work harder than people “in a job.”
Who get a steady paycheck and have health benefits.
Who can “be happy” in a job and leave it when the workday is done.
To come full circle, don’t fret if you still “work for the man.” There’s always the real possibility (if you work at it) that you can “mould” your job into your dream job.
Thousands of people just like you have done it. I did it.
And you may just have a bigger impact than if you struck out on your own.
I encourage you to think deeply about this stuff before you “stick it to the man,” quit your job, and flounder for years in a business you literally have no business being in.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them. Please comment and tell me what you think.