Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
Much as some of us would like to have ourselves believe that we are born entrepreneurs or that we can be nurtured into one, the fact remains that many of us aren’t and might never be.
Please do not use the abovementioned statement (of fact? depending on how we see it) as an excuse not to carve out a niche for yourself in your work and remain – forever – as a cog in a machinery. Instead, we should use this fact as a way to find out which environment we are able to really flourish and thrive in.
Let’s take a look at the various factors why most of us would never be entrepreneurs, (regardless of the degree of personal success attained) and what alternatives are possible:
i. Right place, right time: To be successful entrepreneurs, one needs to possess the right skill sets which are required at the right time. Think Mark Zukerberg, who provides the near-perfect online platform at the birth of the social media revolution (which explains why I am now able to communicate to all of you right here, right now). Think Bill Gates, who came in at the right time with the PC where his computing skills match the times. There are only a few in this world whose abilities meet the times (天时地利人和). Yet, there are many who are born with abilities that are not in great demand and hence, it’s not really possible to monetize them into (international) businesses. This is an internet-based age where computing and creativity are highly desired. Anyone who possesses these two skills are highly likely to succeed in business – if they possess the right personality traits, which brings us to the next point.
ii. Personality traits: All if not most entrepreneurs are very driven and highly motivated. Do you have that kind of energy level? More importantly, they are visionaries who are ahead of their times (which means that they are able to foresee things years ahead of their peers). How many of us have that ability? While this can be nurtured, it seems to be an innate ability for these entrepreneurs. Some of us are more laid-back and prefer a more relaxed lifestyle (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; it’ just a temperament difference). In fact, it’s great that we know ourselves, for it’s only then that we knew how to live our lives right. The media tends to promote the lifestyle of the rich and wealthy, often causing the masses to use these individuals as role models – who are perfect exemplars of the successful, often within the context of capitalist societies. However, if you have an altruistic rather than business-inclined mindset, then be brave enough to join the social service. Dare to follow your heart and take the road less travelled by helping others instead of being lured by materialism and pursuing the route to self-aggrandisement.
iii. An ability to read people’s abilities and maximise their potential: Entrepreneurs often have the ability to read people’s abilities and maximise their potentials by putting them in the right position and often at the right time. Not everybody has this ability. They have the ability to persuade others to work to their vision, an often inborn trait that is often hard (if not downright impossible) to acquire in later life. This is the reason why in life, few lead and most follow. That being said, there is nothing wrong with being a follower. In fact, some thrive in life because they know that they make better followers than leaders. The most important thing for one to remember is to put oneself in the right position such that one’s strengths and talents are fully and optimally utilised.
iv. Confident and possess an ability to deal with uncertainty: It’s human nature to crave for stability and stay in our comfort zones. Entrepreneurs (and in fact, most businessmen) have an ability to be composed when immersed in a state of chaos, while being confident and optimistic enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not only that, they possess the strength to walk towards that light, even though they may fall inordinately. Few possess such courage but that is fine. Few who leave their comfort zone reach that light anyway, most falling into darkness and oblivion in the midst of their attempts (as can be observed by the substantial number of business start-up failures)
Do we possess the abovementioned attributes? If so, do we want to take a chance at entrepreneurship? If not, what are our strengths and talents and what route can we take to ensure our success? Read up on psychology if you have the time to understand yourselves more – MBTI and Enneagram (the latter of which many titles have already been translated into various languages) being two of the best personal profiling tools available in the market right about now. I suggest you read the former first before tagging the knowledge gained to that of the latter.
What is it that you really like to do? Can you monetise it? There are other options besides entrepreneurship and working in corporate organisations. Have you considered freelancing, an often neglected alternative? Most of us associate freelancing with negative connotations such as low pay, unstable income, niche market, often not receiving recognition by mainstream society etc. Now, the question is: have you really considered it? If not, how do you know that things will not work out? Many successful trainers have their roots in freelancing, not entrepreneurship. Think about that. And there’s no evidence showing that freelancing does not lead to entrepreneurship, when the business gets big enough.
If entrepreneurship is not a great investment for you, why make it in the first place?
Why do you want to pursue something that goes against your congenital strengths and talents?