"If you don't build your dream... someone will hire you to help build theirs." /Tony Gaskins/
We don't think so.
Here's what we think: If you agree with the quote above, you're never gonna be a successful entrepreneur.
In today's episode, we continue the gentle but kind discouragement we started last time and discuss all the reasons why running your own business might not be your path after all.
Being an employee, an entrepreneur, a freelancer or an intrapreneur can be equally cool depending on your character. With this episode, we help you find the right alternative - or further confirm that you were born to be an entrepreneur.
Listen in before you quit that dreadful nine-to-five.
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Shane Melaugh: Hello and welcome to episode 37 of The Active Growth podcast. Today we are talking about why you maybe should not be an entrepreneur. So we are continuing our theme of gentle but kind discouragement after our last episode which was about why you should not be a startup. And you really shouldn't, by the way, this is unconditional so if you haven't listened to the last episode, definitely do that.
Today's advice is about why you maybe shouldn't be an entrepreneur, and yes this might apply to you if you're listening, but even if you are one of the people who should be an entrepreneur, give this a listen because I think there are some problems that we discuss here that are kind of prevalent in your circles and you might also know a lot of people who need this advice. As always you can find show notes and links and so on that go along with an episode by going to activegrowth.com/37. That is also where you can leave us a voice message or a comment and get in touch. So that is activegrowth.com/37 and with that let's get into the episode.
Hanne Vervaeck: I want to start with the quote that I think is the worst quote ever, and it goes like this. "If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help build theirs."
Shane Melaugh: Yes, I can picture it on a generic stock image of a beach or something, right? In curly font.
Hanne Vervaeck: Exactly, that's mostly what happens. And unfortunately if you Goggle this quote you will see it a lot and like I said, this is really one of those quotes, like there are a lot of motivational quotes that kind of ...
Shane Melaugh: Cringe worthy.
Hanne Vervaeck: ... cringe worthy, but this one just, like it hurts me reading this and the reason for this is that I'm sure, a hundred percent sure, that the only people posting this type of quote are struggling solo preneurs. Now, the reason that I'm saying this is because, think about it, so you're like, "If you're not building your dream, somebody will hire you to build theirs." What a horrible attitude is this, and with this attitude you will never be able to build a business. That's no way-
Shane Melaugh: It's really condescending. That's really condescending, and I think it's totally true, right, it is kind of a symptom of someone who is kind of in the beginning phases of entrepreneurship, I mean maybe they've been in the beginning phase for a long time, right, as many people get stuck there. It does seem very short-sighted and it's kind of elitist, it's like "Oh, you know, I'm building my dream, what are you doing?"
Hanne Vervaeck: It's totally this glorification of entrepreneurship, where it's like "I'm so much better because I got out of the nine to five, I got out of the rat race," which is probably one of those other things that really really hurt my soul when I hear them, and one of the reasons, guys, I have a job. I don't know, most of you know, but I'm head of the marketing department for Thrive Team, so that's like a real, more than full time job. And when- and the funny thing is, a lot of people come to me in coworking spaces with these type of things, like saying "Oh, I want to get out of the nine to five," or "I finally broke free," and I'm like, "Yay, you're so much better than me." And then they're like, "What are you talking about?" And I'm like, "Well, I work (laughs). I have a job."
And this idea of entrepreneurship is the holy grail of- and it's the only way that you can have your dream life and make shitloads of money and have freedom and whatever else goes with it.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah.
Hanne Vervaeck: And the whole thing of it's a failure if you've tried entrepreneurship and you go back to a job, that's failure, that's like, "Oh my god, you just, you didn't build your dream!" (laughs)
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, yeah. And it's like, like you said before also, it's like of course, as soon as you- the people- (laughs). The people who are hired and help build someone else's dream, that's most people. And just because it's most people doesn't mean, makes you better by not being one of them, right? These people are super important. Any business, it isn't just someone, you know, isn't just a solo preneur freelancer, relies on these people. And yeah, I think that that's one of the things that's kind of just icky about this quote, is it's just so condescending towards basically almost everyone. (laughs).
Hanne Vervaeck: (Laughs).
Shane Melaugh: And it's also the idea that someone is kind of less important or less skilled, or anything less of anything really because they're not an entrepreneur. It's just- well, it's just wrong. It's just wrong. And so, you are an interesting example of this because like you say you are- you have a job, but it's not because you have to, it's not that you have- you still, even now, you still have your own income streams.
Hanne Vervaeck: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Shane Melaugh: It's not that you have to work for someone else, like you failed as an entrepreneur and that's why have a job, right? You choose to do this.
Hanne Vervaeck: Exactly, and it's exactly condescending on- it's like you don't have enough ambition if you're not an entrepreneur and that's something that I encountered a lot, basically, when people are like, "Oh, so, when are you starting your own business?" And I'm like, "I'm not." (laughs). I'm really not. Like I'm not interested at the moment to start from scratch. I really enjoy working with a team, and I really enjoy the things and the skill that I can do my job at. And, again, I think this comes from either people having a really bad experience in corporate world.
They were working for a company, they weren't invested in the mission or the vision of the company whatsoever, they were hired to do some job that they probably didn't really like. And then you have a nine to five, where it's like okay, you go there, you do your job, you don't really care about what you're doing, or which company you're working for. And maybe you stay because your colleagues are kinda cool, or maybe you're just like, "Yeah, it pays the bills," or whatever. And then you have this feeling of like, "Oh my God, I need to break out, I need to do something more with my life. I need to, yeah, do something more meaningful, and have more freedom." So that's why I think that a lot of people who become entrepreneurs do it for the wrong reasons, basically.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, I think we have a strange glorification of entrepreneurship in our culture, in a couple of different ways, actually. I mean, on the one side you have this kind of digital nomad, four hour work week, you know, sipping pina coladas on a beach with my laptop idea, which, look, I don't know a single successful entrepreneur who does that, or anything remotely like that. It's just not like that. (laughs). And even people who manage to build a lifestyle business, which is to say a business that doesn't consume their lives and kind of gives them financial freedom and maybe location, it depends, and things like that. The people I know who have successfully done this, and aren't just you know, kind of, haven't just gone into debt and are trying to make it happen or something like that, right, because you do meet people in Bangkok and Bali and other digital nomad hotspots who seem to be doing this, but when you dig a bit deeper you realize they aren't actually successful entrepreneurs, they're still trying to make it happen.
So the people who have actually successfully gotten to this point where they have a lifestyle business are, first of all, rare and usually have a story of where they've sacrificed at least a few years, like at least three to five years of their lives where they were a slave to this thing, right, where they basically built this business and they became a slave to their business, and they became a slave to their clients, and so on. And they worked way harder than before, and they had a way harder time than before, in order to get to that point. And that's often, I think, under emphasized, you know, how high the failure rate of this is, and how difficult it is to get there.
But then, on the other side, there's also this glorification of the super-entrepreneur, right, where it's all about constants hustle and grind. Working 25 hours a day, and I never sleep, and all I do is work, and I'm the hardest worker ever. It's like it's almost a competition, who can work harder. It's like, okay, it's true that that's an element that's usually necessary for entrepreneurship but why are we glorifying this? Why do you want this? This is not a good life.
Hanne Vervaeck: (laughs). This is- There's another of those quotes where it's like, "Well, if you want to work 90 hours a week, or if you want to break free of your 40 hours a week, become an entrepreneur so you can work 90 hours a week for less money." (laughs).
Shane Melaugh: Exactly, for less money. Yes.
Hanne Vervaeck: And I think that's definitely true, like you're saying there, a lot of people who are hustling a lot and who feel like that's the only way where they can have the- I guess the freedom that they're looking for, because at this point, it's probably they're earning less than they would if they had a traditional job, if they were [inaudible 00:09:25]. It's really weird that I'm still- it seems like that is the only option. And I think the reason why I really really wanted to do this episode is because there are other options. It's not just like, "Oh, you're having a job and it's shitty and you're an entrepreneur and you have freedom." That's just not how it works.
If you're a designer, for example, and the one thing that you really want to do, the one thing that really makes you happy, is designing cool logos, you're probably no going to enjoy being an entrepreneur because it entails so much more. You will have to search for clients, and you will actually have to make these invoices and everything administrative about a business that you don't want, and for that type of person, it might be way better to look for a company, to look for an agency, to look for some company where they can stand behind the vision, the mission, and the way they work and apply there.
Shane Melaugh: Exactly. And I think it's important, so, also, what I see here- and the problem with the glorification of the entrepreneur is that people get into it for the wrong reasons. Which is why we've titled this episode "Why You Shouldn't be an Entrepreneur". It isn't for everyone, and it's a problem when it seems like the only option and when the image we have of what it is to be an entrepreneur is just totally distorted. So then you have people coming into this, or you have people kind of stuck in, and people going into debt and getting themselves in real trouble trying to be an entrepreneur when really, they got into it for the completely wrong reasons, with completely wrong expectations, and it's just not a good choice to make.
The example you gave is a good one, I think. This is the maker trap, right? I'm pretty sure there is a better term for this, but let's call it the maker trap, where you are the maker, you are the craftsman, and you think, "Oh, I really like doing this thing, I'm good at this, I'll turn this into a business." Well what happens is that you have- there's basically one of two problems that you'll be confronted with. If you do your own thing, like you just said, instead of designing logos, which is what you like to do, suddenly you're filing tax forms and you have to do all this marketing trying find clients. You have to do selling, you have to do all this stuff and you notice that something between 50-80% of your time will be spent doing things you don't like doing instead of doing your craft. And that's really disappointing.
Now the alternative to this is that you start a company with at least three people. One of the people is responsible for the craft, one of the people is responsible for sales and marketing, and one of the people is responsible for financials and admin. But now you have to pay three people, and so immediately you have a problem of scale, because right away you might notice you can't do your craft at a scale that pays three people, so now you have to hire - someone else is in charge of HR - and start hiring people, and oh my god, again, you're an entrepreneur.
And it's just, maybe that's what you want. It is a good path and it can be- it is a very challenging path, and it can be an interesting path, but I think what we're trying to do here is give like an accurate job description of what it's actually like to be an entrepreneur, because it's not like, "Oh, I'm doing my cool design work, plus I'm living on a beach!" That's just not how it is.
Hanne Vervaeck: (Laughs). Yeah, I think that's the big distinction, it's between "I wanna do my work and I wanna have the freedom to do my work and that's why I become an entrepreneur" versus "I wanna build something, I wanna have an impact, I wanna do something different, something that nobody else has done." That's where I think you're on the right track of at least having the mindset of an entrepreneur. Again, if you posted this quote (both laugh), then you're not- you're gonna fail. Because the thing is, if you want that business that makes an impact, that actually makes something new and does something different, you will need people that you can hire that will help you build your dream, and I sincerely hope that you will understand this and that you won't become the boss that you hated so much.
Shane Melaugh: Exactly, because that's the other thing, right? That's the other side of this equation. As an entrepreneur, if you do anything other than solopreneuring, then you take on this responsibility of, first of all, you have to be able to appreciate, you have to be able to find and cultivate and appreciate those people who help you build your dream. And they will become your favorite people in the world, by the way, the most important people. And you also- you then are responsible to be a better boss than all the bosses that cause this problem of everyone wanting to escape the nine to five and everyone seeking this freedom, even if it's really not the right thing for them. And, again, that's part of the job, right, this part of the job is that you become responsible for more people and if that's appealing, if that's something you want, if that's something you care enough about, then that might be an indication that you have the entrepreneurial mindset. But if it isn't, then again, it's maybe not the right fit. Maybe being an entrepreneur is not what's needed in that case.
Hanne Vervaeck: Another thing around this, I think, is the difference between a service provider or a solopreneur and wanting to build a business. And this is something that I've seen a lot around me, where people actually want to build a better job for themselves.
Shane Melaugh: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:15:04]
Hanne Vervaeck: They want to build a better job for themselves, so they start out with the idea of, "Okay I just want to be able to replace my salary with my business or the thing that I do for myself", they have this building their own job type of thing because, again, the fact that they didn't fit in with the company that they tried before. I read this example in a book, the example was somebody wanted to have a dog walking business and the person was asking "So, when will you make a million dollars", and the girl was like "What? It's a dog walking business, I'm not going to make a million...I'm going to walk dogs. That's what I like to do". Then he asked "well wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk only the dogs that you really like to walk and to have the choice to do that or not", to basically not have to walk dogs anymore to get your salary and that's also like a mindset shift.
The difference between, I want to design my logos and I have to crank out I don't know how many logos per month to be able to make my salary, versus I want to have to the opportunity to design logos but I also want this design business...this design pickle for example, which is a completely different mindset. Unfortunately, it's put onto the same pile. Depending on if you're like, I'm creating my own job or I'm an entrepreneur and actually want to make a real business. Everything is entrepreneurship, which also makes it difficult to talk about it as if it was one and the same thing.
Shane Melaugh: Let's talk about more. Let's talk about two things. One, how can you tell that you actually have the entrepreneurial mindset, whether this is actually something that will work for you or whether it's just something that's going to make you miserable? If you find that actually, maybe, you are interesting in entrepreneurship or you've got into it for the wrong reasons, what are the alternatives and how did you get ti them. Of course you want to have a job that you don't hate, you want to have a certain level of freedom, you want to have a certain level of choice when it comes to your lifestyle. You want to get paid well. What are the options in getting this kind of thing without having to put up with the downsides of building your own business? So, let's get into those two points, but first let me also quickly call back some previous episodes because you might have noticed a pattern in a lot of things we've been talking about.
One important episode that comes to mind is our episode about your journey, is your journey worth having? There we talked about one of the downsides of the stresses of entrepreneurship and the pursuit of the dream of a great lifestyle and lots of money and so on, which of course is a reason why people get into it. One of the downside is that it can lead to misery and depression. I talked about this in one of the episodes called "Is your journey worth having?", it's how do you orient yourself in a way where you're not just constantly just chasing that end of the rainbow.
Another one is the episode where we talk about why you should not be a start up, which is also the previous episode from this one, where we also talk kind of about the responsibility of entrepreneurship that I believe goes beyond, let's just make a bunch of money, because that kind of entrepreneurship, the well has been poisoned by a certain culture, by this whole growth over everything culture in digital entrepreneurship especially by VC funding and by investment in general. The way it works, it's basically a path that needs to be avoided and I think that that's one of the reasons why so many people hate their jobs. Of course, if you work for a company in which it's just growth over everything, one of the ways in which we can grow the bottom line is we can just ditch some people or pay them less or exploit them otherwise, then yeah, you want to escape from that. I think that's...obviously it's not an obligation, but in my opinion this is one of the things that we should take care of as entrepreneurs, we do use this if we decide to be entrepreneurs, that we do use this as a force for positive change in the world, not just as a way to make a quick buck. Of course, you will find links to those episodes in the show note of this one if you want to go back and listen to those.
So, let's talk about how do you recognize whether entrepreneurship is right? What are the qualities that you need to have in order for entrepreneurship to be the thing that you should do?
Hanne Vervaeck: Express resilience.
Shane Melaugh: I do think that that's an important one because in my experience, entrepreneurship is very much...it's just constant problem solving. It's constant chaotic dynamic solving. I cannot remember a period in all of the...I've done entrepreneurship in many different ways right, I've done many different things and I've run different businesses. It's basically always that you have more problems than you can possibly solve and it's constantly shifting. The sands are constantly shifting because, while you're working through your problems stuff can go wrong. It could be technical stuff on your website that goes wrong, or some new regulation comes along. You're constantly being thrown new curve balls that you have to deal with and you generally cannot solve all of the problems that you have.
In this changing environment, you have to constantly prioritize. What are the most important things that I need to work on right now and how do I work on them, and to somehow have to do all of that while also doing whatever it is that your business is supposed to do. A huge component is just this constant problem solving. I think for me, this works fairly well, I like problem solving and I thrive on challenges. I'm one of those people who, I just really like a challenge. I like doing things that are hard, because they're hard. I'm one of those people, for example, if I do something I like to make things more difficult for myself, just to challenge myself. As an example, the other day I went rock climbing. I like to choose routes in rock climbing that are kind of too difficult for me, slightly too difficult for me. I wouldn't be very satisfied...I don't try to succeed at every route I take. I try to find a way to make it more difficult for me. If something is too easy for me, I will set an extra challenge for myself. I will choose to skip a hole-
Hanne Vervaeck: Only one hand.
Shane Melaugh: Or yeah, with climbing that's pretty difficult, but something like that where I will deliberately, if I'm climbing and it's too easy for me I will deliberately make a choice in my head where I'll say "Okay, I'm going to skip those two", because I want it to be hard. I think that's a trait that's very useful and I think if you're the kind of person who shy's aways from challenges and doesn't like that whole "if I try this and I'm going to fail at it", that would be a big red flag for me when it comes to entrepreneurship.
Hanne Vervaeck: I think everything that's liking routine, and liking that things go the way you wanted them to go is probably...if that's how you thrive, then that's probably not what...as an entrepreneur the chances of stuff going the way you want it, exactly like you said, it's problem after problem and you have to be able to adapt quickly and be okay with that, not just be capable of doing that, but also just feel good doing that. I think that's a big difference. It's one of the things I talked with friends, ex-colleagues of mine, and they're like "Yeah, I like everything that you do and I think it's super fascinating to hear when you have a new project, but I like knowing at the end of the month that I have a paycheck and I like knowing that when I'm sick I still have that paid leave". So I think that if you're a person that's more attached to that security, then entrepreneurship will be really hard.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah. For me, another things that works for me is that I really like learning new skills. This is something that happens all of the time, but the downside is...I have to say that I feel that pain sometimes as well that, is a lack of specialization. Sometimes I would really just like to specialize in something, or I'd like to just be really good at the thing. I don't really get to do that, because I'm changing hats so often. That's something where I can totally appreciate that desire to just specialize and the desire to just be like I'm going to be the most kick-ass copywriter or something like that. For me, that's an example where I really like writing. I would love to be a good writer, but it's just not in the cards right now. I cannot focus on writing for any period of time because there's always going to be these emergencies that interrupt and kind of routine I would have in my work.
Hanne Vervaeck: Even because, again, the difference between being an entrepreneur and having this business means that you will have multiple hats. You're not going to be the make 100 percent of the time. You won't be able to specialize as much in that skill, so I think, if what makes you happy as doing the thing that you like doing and only that, so you don't necessarily like to find clients for it, you don't necessarily like to talk about it, you don't like networking, what you like is coding then probably, if you're a developer and you like coding sole-entrepreneurship is impossible and maybe if you can find...like we said like that triads where you can be the maker then it could be possible, but you would definitely need other people to fill those other skills. At some point you'll probably have to hire other developers and become more of a management role and so on and so on. If you're the maker then I would suggest thinking about other options than entrepreneurship.
Shane Melaugh: So let's talk about that next. If someone is listening to this and they're thinking, well maybe I shouldn't be an entrepreneur but I do want to not have a job I hate. I do want some financial freedom, I do want maybe some location independence or something like that. I want to have the good life. What are my options here? I do want to, essentially, I perceive myself as being in the rat race. I want to escape it, but you're telling me this is going to be horrible if I become an entrepreneur, what do I do? What are my options?
Hanne Vervaeck: Join my marketing team.
Shane Melaugh: Are you hiring?
Hanne Vervaeck: No. Not hiring at the time. No, but seriously find the company that you admire, find the company that you can stand behind. A friend of mine, a developer, actually did this. He had his own business and then figured out that this whole, doing it on his own thing wasn't actually what he liked. So, he actually wanted to have a team around him and he wanted other people, new challenges, so he decided to get a job...of course once you've experienced the thing where you're not having anybody looking over your shoulder, you become more demanding to what you want and accept from a job. So, what he did was he identified five companies and only five companies that were in the city where he wanted to live, or were hiring remote, so dependent, and that had the development and the philosophy that he could stand behind. Only those five. He only applied with those five companies.
With a really good application, because he knew those companies back and forth, he knew what he could bring to the company and it was clear why that company would be a match for him too. Two of them were ready to hire, he got a job at one of the companies. I feel like identifying what's most important for you, the way you want to work and the values that you can stand behind and then finding a company that shows those values, that expresses those values is probably how I would go about this.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah. I would also say that I would recommend looking for smaller companies for two reasons. First of all, I do think that a larger a company grows, the more likely it is that you'll just be a cog in the machine. That's just kind of in the nature of larger companies, there's more bureaucracy and it's more likely that you won't get your needs met, or if you have a suggestion maybe it just never reaches anyone who can do anything about it.
Hanne Vervaeck: I mean to turn a big ship, it takes much more rides. So if you have a suggestion and it has to go ten levels up before it can actually...before you're at somebody who has that power to make that decision and then it has to go ten levels down again, it will take months for sure. If you're the type of person who's like, well for me what I identified of being one important part of my job is having the decision power over strategic decisions in my field, then you're probably not going to be able to have this ten level, even if it is Facebook or whatever big name company. So definitely, I agree on that. Smaller companies are probably, will allow you more of that freedom in the way you work probably than large corporate companies will.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah. It's basically, I think, smaller companies are just more likely to be able to translate their caring about employees into something practical, even in large corporation even if it's run by people who care, it's much more difficult to translate that care into action for 100 thousand employees than for 15. It's more likely that you will have a non rat racy experience in small company. Also, I think large and popular companies will just be inundated with an-
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:30:04]
Shane Melaugh: I think large, and especially large and popular companies, will just be inundated with an endless flood of resumes. Whereas, for smaller companies, what you mentioned before I think is very important. What I see to be extremely rare, is that someone is kind of proactive and actually switched on, and reaching out.
We've talked about this before actually, in other contexts, like reaching out for things like networking, or guest posting, and things like that, right? It shocks me how poor the outreach quality is that we generally get, where you can just tell. You just get some tepid email of someone who just, they don't give a damn about who you are. They just couldn't care less.
And I think with hiring, it's very often like that too. It's that, you get resumes where people are clearly just like ... They made 100 copies of their resume and just sent it to everyone. And that's just not gonna work. I mean, you're just not going to stand out.
And the same thing is, even when a company hires, which is also a lot of people kind of wait for a company to hire, to reach out to them. And then again, you just have endless piles of same-ish, uninspired resumes. And it's very different if someone comes along and says, instead of, "Hey, please hire me, and I'll say and do whatever I need to do to get this job, right? I just wanna get this job."
And you have these kind of super stifled, fake hiring conversations. If someone comes along and says, "Listen," it communicates to you, "Look, I actually understand your company. I know what you do. I know your products, or your services, or whatever. And here's why I like what you do. Here's why I care about this. And here's how I can bring value to this business."
Even though that's fairly generic "how to get hired" advice, from the business owner's side, I basically never see this! Okay? I basically never see this. This is less than 1% of outreach towards us, has this kind of quality where you feel like this person has actually interacted with our business before.
Hanne Vervaeck: And actually, we were just talking about attitudes of good entrepreneurs, and I think this is actually an attitude that both a good entrepreneur and somebody who identified that maybe entrepreneurship isn't for them both needs. You take it in your own hands. You don't wait for somebody to hand it to you.
So you're not waiting, and just being like, "Oh, I made my LinkedIn profile, and now somebody magically gonna offer me the job of my life." It's like waiting in your apartment hoping that Prince Charming is gonna ring at your door. It's probably not gonna happen, and if it happened to you, please tell me how.
It's one of those things where it's so easy to say, "Oh, I'm in a crappy job, or I can't find a good job," but so little people actually do the work of identifying what's important to them, and then finding a company that gives them what they need. Just the whole proactive thing, I think that's a quality that a lot of people are lacking, unfortunately. And then together with the victim mentality, is probably one of the reasons also why it's so easy just to, "Yeah, it's the boss's fault," right?
Because even if today, and this is me going on more of a rant, yay!
Shane Melaugh: Yes, do it!
Hanne Vervaeck: Even if today you're in a job where you're not 100% satisfied, instead of just throwing the towel, probably you can do something to make your job better. If you identify what makes you unhappy in your job, then you can probably find something, be proactive about it. Go ask your manager or the other person. Go ask if you can have one day to work from home, and show how fucking productive you'll be in that one day, for example, if that is what you're looking for.
Or there are so many ways, and it's just too easy to be like, "Oh yeah, well, somebody else didn't hand it to me on a silver platter exactly what I was looking for. So, yeah. Not my fault."
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, and also, as an employer I have to say it is difficult, because of course I can't fulfill everyone's wishes all the time. But it's also frustrating to know that the default mode for a lot of people is that they will basically just complain about you behind your back, right? They will complain maybe to their friends, "Fucking work, I don't have enough freedom, where I don't have this. This is annoying."
They won't tell me, right? And I think the proactive thing is really really important there, because it is a negotiation, but I have to know what the problems are. I have to know what the needs are, and so on. And even though I can't just solve everything magically, it's extremely valuable for me to know this, because of course I don't want to have annoyed employees. I don't want to have employees who hate their job, and so on.
But if I'm never told about it, then it's a bit difficult for me to create a better work environment for people, right? And yeah, like you say, I think this proactive thing is super important, because if you can do that ... First of all, if you can make yourself really valuable, so if you are the craftsperson and you can do an extremely good job, and you're productive and you're not slacking off, you do valuable work, and you show engagement. You show that you care. Then I think it's kind of like a virtuous or vicious cycle.
Because if you do that, then you have much more negotiation power for things like, "Okay, I wanna do some remote work," or something like that. Or also just negotiating power over your salary, right? The harder it is to replace you, the higher the salary you can command.
But also, the more likely you are to get what you want, then the more likely you are to actually enjoy your work, and the more you're basically disengaged, and uncaring, and waiting instead of proactive, and so on. The less likely you are to enjoy your work, and then of course the less likely you are to produce good quality work, and so on.
So I do think that awareness of whether you are in this virtuous cycle, or in this vicious cycle, and the initiative to do something about it, that can make a huge huge difference to your experience.
Another thing here is that I do think that for freedom, which is what a lot of people get into entrepreneurship to pursue freedom, which is something I totally understand. For me, that's one of the greatest values I get out of this personally, right, is just my personal level of freedom. That's all something where remote work is something that gives you a lot of freedom. Also gives you responsibility, but it gives you a lot of freedom.
And it's becoming more and more common. It's not impossible anymore to find remote work. You can go to a site like ... remote, okay ... to find piles and piles of job openings for remote work. And that's something that is also very much worth considering, but you also have to remember that does come at a cost. It does come at the cost of more self responsibility. And it also comes with the cost of, usually, salary's gonna be much lower. Or maybe there's gonna be fewer benefits, or whatever. There's always a trade-off. So you can't expect to get the exact same salary and the same benefits, and so on, but not have to show up at the office.
Hanne Vervaeck: And one other trade-off I think that many people forget, and that's also a reason why people get back into going to the office, is your colleagues. If you're now in a job, and you like your colleagues, even if your job isn't the most amazing job in the world, you probably enjoy going every day just because of the people that you spend a lot of time with.
The moment that you work remote, you don't have that anymore, and it is pretty easy to find yourself lonely at that point. So I think that's something to consider also. Are you a person who likes being around other people? Who likes hanging out at coffee machine? Or who's more interested at being able to go to the gym in the middle of the day because that's when you-
Shane Melaugh: That's when gym's empty.
Hanne Vervaeck: That's when the gym's empty. I was gonna say 'cause that's when the best time for the gym is, but I mean that's just my opinion. But yeah, and then there's another one that we haven't talked about.
So one thing was already, identifying what you want from a job, and then finding the companies that can help you. But it might also be identifying the jobs that actually fit your lifestyle that you're looking for.
So exactly like you said, there are a lot of remote jobs, but you might be like, "Well, today I don't like ... My job can't be done remote," which okay, I would challenge you on that idea. But there are of course jobs that are harder to do remote than others.
And yeah, maybe it means that for whatever, three months, you set yourself a challenge to actually learn FaceBook ads, because that's something that hires a lot remote. Or some other job where you're like, "Okay, this is ..."
You go to one of those websites about remote work, and you see that in certain categories, there's just way more offers. And you will also see the salaries, because there's a difference between writing SEO articles and actually doing FaceBook ads, for example, for a company.
Probably, it's not the same skill set, so it's not the same pay. So at that point, you can actually identify, if you did this first thing of looking, what are the things that I need to be happy? And yeah, freedom is one of those, so you wanna work remote.
And then you're like, "Okay, what are the jobs that are actually hiring remote, and how can I acquire those skills?"
Again, this goes back to the being proactive thing, but there are, today with the internet, and I think this is something that we already talked about in another episode, too ... There's absolutely no excuse not to be able to learn something. You can learn anything online, [inaudible 00:40:18], Skillshare, whatever. There are tons of online courses, online schools, there are even universities doing their courses online.
So if you wanna acquire a skill, and even a diploma or certificate or whatever, in a certain job, you can do that online, and you can work towards that ideal situation.
Shane Melaugh: So in summary, what we're really saying is that the entrepreneurial skills that we have talked about in most of this podcast, skills like how to be productive when you work for yourself, and skills like how to acquire skills, and skills like how to be better at communicating things. These are extremely valuable entrepreneurial skills, even if being an entrepreneur itself is not the right thing for you.
Because what we're really saying here is that you should question whether you should be an entrepreneur, because you can have the benefits that being an entrepreneur promises you, or the reasons why you got into it. You might be able to have those benefits without having to do a lot of grind work, and the downside of being an entrepreneur. And it requires many of the same skills.
So I think this is also just an important insight, right? The lines are a bit blurred, because I do think that, especially with the focus that we have here on the ActiveGrowth Podcast, where we kind of talk about these fundamental skills, where it's not so much about how to do SEO on a blog post, it's more about how to keep doing SEO on blog posts, even if it gets boring.
Or, how to ... right? These kinds of skills are super important for entrepreneurs, but they're also super important for leveling up your work and life situation, even if entrepreneurship ... Even if you are not the one steering the ship.
Hanne Vervaeck: I wonder, I'm not sure if this is a French, Dutch term, or if it actually exists in English, but here we go. There's a word that's called intrapreneur. And this basically means that you are an entrepreneur within an organization.
And I really, really love this notion, and I identify myself with that term, because I think, exactly like you said, you're not just an employee where something happens to you. You're not trying to get out of your 9 to 5, or the rat race, or even complaining about your 9 to 5. You're actually applying all these soft skills that are so important to better the company that you're working for.
And at that point, you're an intrapreneur, which is something that is really valuable, that I would argue is ... Let's stop glorifying this whole thing of being an entrepreneur, and actually, let's start glorifying also the intrapreneurship.
Shane Melaugh: Yes, I'm all for that.
Hanne Vervaeck: Now, if you resonated with this episode, or if you think that we're completely on the wrong track, let us know. Leave us a voice message. You can find it on the page [ActiveGrowth.com/37 00:43:27], and there you will find the little widget where you can record yourself.
We always love hearing about it. And if you have a question, then we can also answer it in one of the upcoming episodes.
Shane Melaugh: And with that, thank you for listening, and we'll see you in the next one.
PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:43:46]
What You'll Discover in this Episode:
- Maybe you shouldn't be an entrepreneur? This path might be different than what you think - and you could be worse off.
- Your business won't survive without the people who work for you. How to avoid turning into the boss you ran away from?
- The 2018 problem: are you a failure if you're not entrepreneurial? Can you "make it in life" if you never build your own business?
- Find out if you want to become an entrepreneur for the right reasons, and what you can do if you already started a business but you hate it.
- Do you have the most important personality traits to build your own business? Do you love stress, putting out fires, challenging yourself even if you fail all the time - or you prefer to do what you're passionate about and always be paid for it at the end of the month?
- The truth behind the "Four-Hour Workweek" and the "Do what you love" quotes.
- Having a shitty job is not your only alternative. Find out how you can enjoy the benefits of being an entrepreneur without having to become one.
- How to land a job you will love.
- How to give more value to the world than your previous employers if you decide to choose the entrepreneur life?
- The book that started the digital nomad movement: 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
- Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Here's a quick test for you on Entrepreneur.com
- Why do so many entrepreneurs fall into depression? Are you sure your journey is worth having? How can you avoid long-term burnout? Listen to ep.34 of the ActiveGrowth podcast.
- Why you absolutely shouldn't be a startup, even if you decide to have your own business? That's what we discussed in our previous episode - and, as always, the alternatives.
- As an entrepreneur, you always face unexpected changes, problems and new regulations. Like the GDPR regulations from earlier this year that made us have to update all our products.
- It's hard (if not impossible) to focus on one specific skill as an entrepreneur, and way too easy to always chase the next new thing. Listen to this episode for our advice to find the golden mean.
- Linchpin by Seth Godin is a great book on how to be more proactive, indispensable, give value and share your art with the world - no matter if you're an employee, an intrapreneur or an entrepreneur.
- There's no excuse if you want to learn a new skill. Udemy and Skillshare are two amazing and fairly cheap resources, and you can find great tutorials for virtually anything on YouTube.
- You don't want to be an employee, but you know you wouldn't enjoy the entrepreneur life either? Read the definition of intrapreneur - it might be the perfect golden mean for you!
Screw the 9 to 5?
Our goal with this episode wasn't to tell you which is better - working for yourself or working for someone else.
We wanted to give you a more accurate, expectations vs. reality type job description of being an entrepreneur, and make you aware that it's not always the best way to build your dream, have the freedom you want, make an impact, work from a hammock - and all the other bullshit motivational speakers say to get you to join their MLM system.
Do you currently have a job, or you're working on your own business? Maybe both? Can you resonate with the points we made in this episode?
Let us know in the comments below!
As always, we want your feedback, questions, tips and stories. You can leave them in the comments section or leave us a voice message by hitting the "Start recording" button below:
See you soon with another episode!
Love this – too many people want to be the boss but don’t know how to be a boss. Also, if they can’t handle being employed, being their own boss may be really hard for them. Love that you’re talking my kinda sense (as always)
Thank you for your comment, Sarah! Indeed, being your own boss is incredibly difficult. I think it’s often overlooked and understated that you can find yourself in the tyranny of the gig-economy and your own poor management, after escaping the tyranny of the 9-to-5.
Just wanted to say thanks for providing an mp3 download link. Too few podcasts do this and it drives me nuts. I listen to your great advice while out running and a small, light mp3 player is way more preferable to a big, heavy phone for that purpose. So thanks again.
Yes, thank you!! I don’t use a podcast app, so it’s really appreciated.
Thanks for your comment! It’s good to know that the direct download is being used. :)
I love this episode! Thank you, Shane and Hanne, for breaking down the hype once again. I am in the midst of making big decisions in this regard — whether to continue pursuing solo-preneurship or get a full-time job. Thank you for saying both can be great options. I love the thoughtful commentary on the concept that there are many ways to find fulfillment, make a contribution, and make a good living.
I’m glad to hear this episode was relevant for you, Mark!
Thanks Shane and Hanne for tackling should interesting and valuable topics. I wish someone had told me this 20 years ago. It would have save lots of stress and frustration.
Thank you for your comment, Gary. I’m glad to see that this resonated with you.
The definition of an Entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so”.
So unless one is prepared to have less income, more expenses and commitment to stay the course for whatever time it takes to build, you should think it over very carefully before starting.
Statistics tell us that most small businesses go out of business within 5 years. If you search the internet for some who started back in 2013, like me, you might find that they are no longer around. (a good reason to always update your links).
I hope my attention to detail doesn’t get me into trouble, but could you please update your copyright date (currently 2013). It’s one of my “hot buttons” and an area I check and I believe Google also does, to determine active websites.
I am self-taught and love it…probably because I like change, most people do not. Learning new things keeps this baby boomer mentally active.
Great podcast. Thanks Much!
Thank you for your comment, Linda!
I agree with your thoughts on this and I’m happy to see you liked the episode. :)
And thanks for pointing out the copyright thing. Fixing it right away. :)