“SpongeBob, is that gonna hurt??”
Entrepreneurship is as American as apple pie, baseball, and SpongeBob Squarepants. The essence behind entrepreneurship is the freedom to live a professional life that has the most meaning to you – to not be defined by someone else’s value system, personal vision & goals, and decisions. But with that freedom comes tremendous accountability, responsibility, and risk.
As SpongeBob and Patrick so eloquently discussed, entrepreneurship has unlimited possibilities. With entrepreneurship, we are limited only by our own vision (and money – but we can often find it if we look in the right places). However, entrepreneurship does bring its own pain and suffering with it, so to answer Patrick’s question, yes entrepreneurship can hurt at times.
Our Founding Fathers probably did not consider themselves to be entrepreneurial in 1776 when they declared the United Sates to be free from British rule. After all, the battle for freedom was risky and gruesome, and our most dedicated American citizens paid the greatest price for America’s freedom, which we all still celebrate today.
In business, when an entrepreneur decides to break free from the restrictions of an established organization and pave his/her own way, he/she has made the decision that they are ready, willing, and able to establish their own independence, and build a business that reflects all of the facets that are important to him/her.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation”.
The unique talent or knowledge that they have, the value system that they wish to impart, the value that they can bring to the marketplace, the lifestyle that they want to live – all of these factors go into a person’s decision to embark on entrepreneurship. In the mind of the entrepreneur, the benefits of separating themselves from an already established organization outweigh any of the risks that may be associated with the decision.
These drivers are not dissimilar to the drivers behind our Founding Father’s motivations for establishing our country’s Independence. In an excerpt of the Declaration of Independence, we can see this to be true:
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Entrepreneurship is a microcosm of this statement. As entrepreneurs, we make these decisions every day – levy war against our competitors, align with our competitors, engage in business transactions, and participate in all other activities that occur in the typical state of business.
Like Freedom, entrepreneurship is not Free. Entrepreneurs need to protect and defend their position every day. Every day is a day of battle, in which we are protecting & defending our corporation, our value, our customers, our employees, and everything that defines who we are in our business.
Also, like Freedom, entrepreneurship brings tremendous risk and accountability. When entrepreneurs build a business, they often risk everything, knowing along the way that the best laid plans go to waste. And if they happen to lose everything, they are often alone to pick up their pieces.
But again, like Freedom, I know that many entrepreneurs wouldn’t trade entrepreneurship for anything in the world. They would rather live with the risk and lack of security than to ever work for someone else again.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the risk-aversive. But it is for me.
Happy Independence Day everyone!