I think our traditional view of the role of a true entrepreneur has to be re-looked.
A month ago I wrote a post discussing why working for a salary is stupid, and that the only reason you should go into business is either to: a) grow income, or b) work less.
I have given these points a lot of thought and, while these are two very valid reasons to work for yourself, I don’t think that they are the only ones. More precisely, I don’t think these reasons tell the full story as to the true benefits to entrepreneurship.
Let me start by asking this simple question: what if you don’t want income growth or less work? Does this mean you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur?
My initial answer would have been no, you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. However, I have come to change my mind as I have rethought the benefits of entrepreneurship.
Many business owners out there do not want the complexity that comes with growth and instead enjoy the familiar simplicity that relatively fixed income brings them.
Fine, you may say. So then you should look to work less. But what if you enjoy your work so much that you WANT to work 40, 50 or 60 hours per week? Does that mean you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur?
Let me take this even one step further. What if you are employed by someone else (because you want to, not for start-up capital), while also running your own business. Do you have a right to call yourself an entrepreneur then?
The answer to this question is, yes, you do. Why? There is a similar theme to all of these points: you are doing what you WANT to do. You are choosing to stifle growth to keep things simple because you crave simplicity. You are choosing to work longer hours because you are enjoying it. You are even choosing to work for another employer because you find that work rewarding.
Therefore, I think the true reason to work for yourself isn’t to earn even greater profits or to reduce your working hours, but to attain the flexibility to do what YOU want to do.
Entrepreneurship should grant you financial freedom and remove the obligation to work. It should remove your reliance to work to earn income and instead put you in control of what you get to do every day. You get to choose what to do with your free time, even if it is more work. The important thing is that the power of choice is given back to you, where you can make the decision to do what you want.
Let’s pretend that you are 25 years old and you are running a very successful business. You absolutely love learning and academics and you are hoping to get an MBA someday. You receive an acceptance letter from Harvard Business School to study to get your graduates degree there, but the only way you can do this, is to spend less time on your business and lose 75% of your profits. What do you do?
The answer is: it’s up to you. You and only you should get to decide what you should pursue. Entrepreneurship should afford you that luxury of choice and if you enjoy academics that much, attending graduates school and sacrificing some profits is an acceptable decision, as long as you are happy.
This is the true meaning of financial freedom. You are not freed from work, but from the reliance of work. You can choose to continue to work, but you can quit at any time knowing your quality of life wont suffer. Entrepreneurship gives you the opportunity to be happy and choose the daily activities that you want to do and not have them dictated to you.