Being an entrepreneur takes more than hanging out a shingle

One of the by-products of a struggling economy and wide spread layoffs is the inevitable birth of many new consultants and budding entrepreneurs.  For some, it's a natural evolution and wise choice.  For others, it's the lesser of the evils and usually ends when the new full time job is secured.

I think the key question that is often skipped in this evolution is "do I WANT to be an entrepreneur?"  And of course the follow up questions — do I have what it takes?  Will I be good at it?  Will I like it?  Do I have the stomach and risk tolerance for it?

Here's the truth about being an entrepreneur:

"Entrepreneurship is not a career. It is a way of life."

There are two books that have recently been published that will help anyone of the edge of this important decision.

Be-an-entrepreneur The first book, aptly titled "So you want to be an entrepreneur?" is by Jon Gillespie-Brown.  Jon's book is part mentoring lessons and part workbook, with lots of great exercises that will really help you examine and plan your life based on your passions, ambitions and ultimate visions.

By actively taking part in each of the exercises, you give yourself the best chance of succeeding as an entrepreneur, or the sufficient clarity to decide what other career options are best suited to you.

The book is uplifting and celebrates the truth about being an entrepreneur — the good, bad and the ugly.

All the proceeds of this book are being donated to the Grameen Foundation, which does some amazing work.

Entrepreneurjourneysbook-188x300 The second book you should spend some time with is Sramana Mitra's Entrepreneur Journeys.  Mitra interviews a dozen innovative entrepreneurs and focuses the conversations on five core topics:

  • Bootstrapping
  • Taking on giants
  • Disrupting business models
  • Addressing unmet market needs
  • Tackling planet scale problems

The interviews are very intimate and frank.  There's no sugar-coating or sidestepping the tough issues in this book.  I was surprised at how open the entrepreneurs were and how freely their exposed their pain and failures, along with their successes.

The interviewees weren't the standard company or people we hear about everywhere else.  So the stories and examples were not only relevant but also fresh.

Both books were enjoyable and fast reads.  You'll want to read through Gillespie-Brown's once and then go back and work your way through the exercises. And you'll probably want to re-visit Mitra's if you decide to bite off entrepreneurship and find yourself taking on a giant or doing a little bootstrapping.

Even if you have no intention of hanging out your own shingle…the lessons in the books are good for anyone engaged in leading a business.

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7 comments on “Being an entrepreneur takes more than hanging out a shingle

  1. Matt,

    My pleasure — I hope you find the books helpful.


  2. Mitra’s book sounds particularly interesting – especially the bit about taking on giants – something that most entrepreneurs will find themselves doing at some point, and I’m sure there are some weapons available to the entrepreneur (such as speed of deployment, flexibility etc.) that can be really useful.


  3. Blogger says:

    For sure not for people with a get quick rich sheme in mind. Yes I agree, being an entrepreneur is more of a life style than a job, but once you mastered it, it’s a great and often fun income source.

  4. bmenews says:

    Hi, i try to study how to be an entrepreneur. There are a lot of thing that i should learn.
    Thank You for share this article

  5. Both books really get you thinking about not only the challenges of being an entrepreneur…but the big question — is this really what you want to do?

    There are lots of pros and cons, each one worthy of consideration.


  6. Blogger,

    Very true — it’s a lifestyle and a risk comfort choice. If you can’t live (and be happy) with all the ups and downs that come with being your own boss, than you should probably stick to a more traditional work environment.

    But if you can…the ride can be a blast!


  7. Thanks for the article and advise. Entrepreneurship is definately a tough road but also potentially very rewarding – and taking advice from those “in the know” such as the authors of these books is a great way to stay on top of things!

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