How An Entrepreneur Is Different From A Manager
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When most people think of an entrepreneur, they think of a high-powered executive with a staff of dozens and an office in the heart of Manhattan, jetting off to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
This is how most people would define an entrepreneur, but that is not what the majority of entrepreneurs in business would identify themselves.
Your job is not so much to build a business empire as it is to build a business that provides value to your customers
Of course, while most people associate the word "entrepreneur" with high-flying executives and high-net-worth individuals, there are many of us who have never made millions of dollars or even made six-figures.
Many of us work for ourselves or are freelancers. Many of us started our businesses when we first graduated from college and didn't realize that the means to make money, save money and start a business was to have a job.
And many of us were highly successful in our jobs and just couldn't fathom taking the risk of leaving our jobs, our friends, our families and so on to make a go of it on our own.
Still, it's important to recognize that the "entrepreneur" label doesn't mean that an individual is better than the average individual. As a matter of fact, many successful entrepreneurs might very well be managers (or, at the very least, in the C-Suite).
As an entrepreneur, your focus is on building a business and doing what you can to provide value to your customers
That is a very different mindset than managers, who are focused on generating profit by managing workers to meet production demands, which includes creating the most cost-effective ways to fulfill those demands.
For example, if a business manager is trying to grow a business, they will not consider creating value for their customers (unless it results in a substantial increase in profits, in which case it may be worth considering).
If a business manager is trying to sell their product to customers, they will focus more on creating a barrier to entry for potential competitors than they will on ensuring that their customer's satisfaction.
In fact, when it comes to managers, entrepreneurs actually tend to be better because entrepreneurs are focused on providing value to their customers and are much more likely to try to drive value for their customers than managers are.
That's not to say that there aren't managers who are focused on driving value for their customers, but they are much fewer and far between.
Balancing personal lives with work is key
Since entrepreneurs work for themselves and have to balance their personal lives with work, they have to be a lot more flexible than managers. An employee at a large corporation who is focused on ensuring that the business meets the expectations of its customers will be much more likely to have the same flexibility as an entrepreneur.
For example, one of my friends, Tonya, decided to start her own business after spending 15 years working for a Fortune 500 company as a project manager. As someone who had always been very self-directed, she was not eager to go back to a traditional 9-5 job. Her goal was to start a business that would not only allow her to focus on what she really enjoyed, but would also enable her to save enough money so that she could retire at age 55 and spend more time with her children (she had four kids).
Despite the fact that she had an excellent job, Tonya was so unhappy that she said that her life made her feel like a "bit player in a two-hour video." She wanted to be a business owner, so she started Tonya & Co. in 2010 and has been building her business ever since. "I think people tend to associate entrepreneurship with loners and free spirits with tattoos, piercings and long hair. But the reality is that you don't need to fit into the norms of a corporate environment to be an entrepreneur.
If you want to build a business, your primary concern should be what you love doing
If you are happy doing it, other people will be happy doing it with you.
However, before you go out and start your own company, consider making the time to think about how much you are willing to give up in order to accomplish your goals.
For example, Tonya told me that her first employee quit after just three months.
Tonya initially assumed that her refusal to hold a job would give her an edge when it came to recruiting new employees, but after the first employee left, the other three who followed her out the door cited similar reasons, leaving Tonya with the impression that it was her position as an entrepreneur that had driven them away.
The lesson here is not that you need to quit your job to be an entrepreneur. The lesson is that you need to understand your motivations and your ideal business. Otherwise, the only people who are going to be able to work with you are those who share your values.
So if you want to start your own business, you don't have to throw in the towel just because you have a full-time job. You don't have to quit your job to be an entrepreneur, but you do have to be prepared to give up other things. And that takes a lot of work and planning.