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Entrepreneurial Archetypes

Do any of these sound like you...

We repeatedly see and hear news stories about how most new jobs are created by small businesses. Ironically, many people start a business because they can't find employment in the first place.

But is it for everybody? Just because your out of work and don't know what to do, or you find yourself responding to those email about making from home or you always thought it might be fun to make designer candles or your best buddy wants to go into business with you because he has "a passion" for tropical fish doesn't mean that this is for you

In my experience, there are 4 reasons why most people start their own businesses:

Scenario #1: Circumstances Beyond Your Control
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some come into the office one morning and are asked to go into the conference room only to be told that this great new company that you've only been working at for TWO MONTHS has come to the sudden realization that they have NO CLIENTS, so here are your two weeks severance and would you PLEASE clean out your desk and leave quietly within the hour so as not to alarm the remaining employees who we will get around to sacking in a couple of weeks.

In other words, you get laid off. If you're like most people, you have the Jean Paul Sarte Exit Package (i.e. The "No Exit" Package) and you find yourself facing a long and uncertain job search.

Since it's marginally better in the eyes of the world to be called "self" employed rather than "un" employed, you might seize this opportunity to hire yourself.

Give into to the urge to show them what a bunch of short sighted boobs they are. Spite can be a powerful motivator. Not to mention the fact that if your former employer is doing as badly as it sounds, there's a good chance you will be in business longer than they will.

Also, after the way you've been treated, you may just decide that you've had enough of the corporate world and if anybody ever fires you again, it will be you.


Scenario #2: Nowhere, Man
Has the top of your head been flattened from bumping up against that glass ceiling? Is the buzzing sound you hear that of colleagues passing you on the fast track? Does your boss regularly ask you to take the new guy or gal "under your wing" because the company has big plans...for THEM?!

Your employer might appreciate the work you do, and you might even do it very well, but you're job has turned into a "Voyage to Nowhere."

You might consider taking your talents on the road, as it were, and try changing your luck there. If nothing else, you can see this as a career "time out" and give yourself an opportunity to try new things, meet new people and reassess where you are now and where you'd like to be in the future. You might even decide to take another full time job down the road, but you'll do so with a fresh perspective.

There is also the matter of respect. With your own clients, you are the guru, the outside expert, the answer man or woman. Every word is a precious gem; every insight is received with awe; your contributions are indispensable, your participation vital to the success of the project and, by extension, the company.

With your employer you may only be that funny little guy who works in the back.


Scenario #3: Momentum
Depending on what you do for a living, during the course of your career you might have picked up a freelance account or two. Slowly (or not, as the case may be) one client becomes three, three become five, and suddenly you're working most nights, weekends and holidays.

You feel like you're running a covert operation. Lunch hours are no longer for lunch and you can't stay late enough to make up the difference as your days are filled with clandestine client meetings in coffee shops, off-hour presentations at other peoples offices and strategy sessions in the occasional parking lot.

You're running out of imaginative excuses to cover your many absences. You're sleeping habits have become so erratic that the dark circles under your eyes have you looking like a raccoon; and your harried, dazed and disoriented demeanor has your superstitious boss thinking that you just might be a zombie.

In other words, your full time job is interfering with your freelance work. It's time to come out of the entrepreneurial closet and stop living this double-life.

Despite the damage to your sense of well-being, there are many advantages to this scenario: you're starting off with an active client base; you are able to develop your business without having to worry about paying your bills; you can be selective about what clients you take on; and you'll have a somewhat smoother transition if you decide to do this full time.


Scenario #4: The Big Idea
It's nighttime. You're snugly curled up under the covers. Outside, rain gently taps on the windowpane. Deep in REM sleep, you finally go out with that girl from high school, but just as you make your move, you realize that she bears an uncomfortable resemblance to your brother when...you bolt upright in bed, covered in sweat, gasping for breath. You scramble for something to write with, you have just gotten…THE BIG IDEA!!!!

It's The Next Big Thing. The Uber Widget. Something That Does That Thing Faster and Cheaper Than That Other Thing Did Before. You are in the vice-like grip of sudden inspiration.

Hyper-focused, you spend the next several days and nights (or years) breathing, eating and sleeping (or not sleeping) perfecting your vision. Your life becomes all about TBI!

This is self-employment on steroids. People who get their TBI to pay-off are considered visionaries, gurus, game changers. FedEx, Wal-Mart and the iThngs from Apple Computer all started as a sudden burst of inspiration in the minds of their Messianic founders. Such individuals are passionate, focused, obsessed and sometimes armed and dangerous.

If this sounds like you, give it shot. Most a revolutionary ideas started "off the grid" or "in somebody's garage" (Maybe that's the problem with the economy: we need to invest in more garages.) and you'll never know if your good idea is a great idea if you don't take it out and drive it around the block a few times.

BUT BE WARNED: Visionaries are the all-or-nothing guys of entrepreneurship. You run the risk of either being a huge success or a complete waste of time. Steve Jobs was a visionary but at one point his own board told him to go away. I worked for a couple of visionaries who were geniuses until they weren't' any more. If you see yourself in this light, remember, no one is successful on their own, and don't take yourself too seriously —for a small fee I can have my mom call you once a week and list everything you're doing wrong.

Keeps you grounded.


If any of these archetypes sound like you,
wait a few days and see if the impulse passes.

If not, you mat have something there.


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Entrepreneurial Archetypes