The Bushido Code of a Solopreneur
What do bushido code and solopreneurship have in common?
A rōnin (浪人?) was a samurai with no lord or master.
A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who owns his business and his life.
And today’s business environment can be as chaotic as the blood-soaked world of feudal Japan.
The Internet and rapid globalization have shaken central corporate authority to its core. Mighty industries are being disrupted today, giving way to startups that redefine the rules of the game, the same way feudal systems collapsed giving way to the new set of rules.
The post-2009 economic recovery has been largely jobless. Automation and outsourcing has made many traditional white collar professions obsolete. Blue collar jobs have been in decline for decades, and it’s very unlikely that they will ever be coming back.
The most important choices in your life used to be easy; they were made for you. Your parents made sure you got some education, and then your boss told you what to do. The rules of the old game were simple: fit in, follow orders, pay your dues, and — above all — don’t challenge the ‘status quo.’
This post was originally published as my foreword to “Solopreneur Ronin:Break the Chains, Earn Your Freedom, and Engineer a Happy Life Blogging from Anywhere,” which is now available on Kindle on Amazon here.
Hundred of years ago during the feudal period (1185–1868) of Japan, samurais faced a similar predicament. A sumari served a master and had little say what happens to his life. His service was his life. But as central power — particularly the power of the emperor — declined, the age-old relationship between a warrior and his lord began to shift.
Today, more people than ever are “out on their own.” In fact, one in three working-age Americans — 53 million people — are freelancers (we call them “solopreneurs,”) according to the Freelancers’ Union. That’s a lot of people to be cast loose from the corporate state.
The Severance from the Emperor’s Court
According to the Bushido Shoshinshu (the Code of the Samurai), a samurai was supposed to commit seppuku(also “hara kiri” — ritual suicide) upon the loss of his master. One who chose not to honor the code was “on his own” and was meant to suffer great shame.
At the heart of the collapse of the feudal system in Japan, more and more newly lordless samurais resisted this cruel command, broke the chains of tradition, and ventured forth into the land, seeking fortune wherever it lay. Some found employment as mercenaries, others reinvented themselves as guides, guards, farmers, or merchants. These nomads were called ‘Samurai Ronins.’
The undesirability of Ronin status was mainly a discrimination imposed by the samurais who were still in service and by daimyo, the feudal lords. To break the chains, meant to live the life of an outcast.
The reality of today’s business environment is that you cannot expect to find ‘a master’ who can guarantee you a life-long service in exchange for security. It’s on you to build up your own wealth and security. No one will any longer do it for you, they can’t.
Today’s post-corporate solopreneur may find the transition from corporate soldier to self-employed, financially free Ronin difficult. Losing the prestige of a salaried position and the reliable bi-weekly paycheck is a scary proposition. Disorientation and self-doubt can haunt even the bravest corporate castoff. Worst of all, family and friends will often not share your new belief system. Many will pressure you ‘not to stick your neck out.’
Then there is the period of adjustment. Even the most intrepid solopreneur can find him or herself falling into a rut, many times over, before she or he earns the freedom. But there is plenty of help — many successful solopreneurs have made this journey before, either by choice or after receiving a pink slip.
Ryan Biddulph is one of them. He liberated himself from a dead-end job in New Jersey, mounting debt and a life of limited possibilities to one of adventure, fun, and independence. Today is living between Fiji and Bali, blogging his journey into a prospering solopreneur.
Ryan built a thriving Internet business (BloggingFromParadise.com) using free blogging and social media tools. His success didn’t come overnight, but required lots of experiments, missteps, and lessons learned the hard way.
“Soloprenuer Ronin” is his story, a story of a Ronin…
Originally published as my forward to “Soloprenuer Ronin: Break the Chains, Earn Your Freedom, and Engineer a Happy Life Blogging from Anywhere.”
“Soloprenuer Ronin” is not about making millions on the Internet quickly; it’s about building a sustainable online business through smart blogging and content monetization strategies that will support your life’s goals — whether it’s to travel internationally or spend more time with your family.
First published online on Search Decoder: http://www.searchdecoder.com/solopreneur-bushido-code/
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