Monday, May 11, 2009

Avoid being an Entrepreneur


In a recent post on their site, Matt from 37 Signals argues that you don't have to be an entrepreneur to be sucessful. There are many very sucessful people out there who are " succeeding without MBAs, business plans, and all those other credentials you’re supposed to have before starting a business."

We have somehow created the myth of Entrepreneurs - MBA from a top school, writes a killer business plan and Venture Capitalists flock in... It almost sounds like something from The Fountainhead.

Thankfully most of the (small e) entrepreneurs I deal with are not so characterized. They don't have big MBAs or venture capital, and in fact, concentrating at all on those ideals must set up a false demand in the prospective business owner. Instead of finding a niche or market they understand, they try and develop something towards this mythical Entrepreneur.

We must break ourselves from this mythical Entrepreneur.


Matt also remarkes that "It’s time to get over the idea that risk and reward are so intertwined in business." This is a incisive point. Many of the financiers we are now bailing out had much reward for their actions - though little significant risk. Likewise, starting up a small software shop in college or just out of college has very little risk (Paul Graham has written persuasively on this as well), so any reward is positive.

What I don't have an answer to is how, as a 40ish mid-career person, I can balance the reward and risk where I am now as a business owner. And many of the people who have been laid off right now are exactly in this position. Revised 5/12: What I meant to say was: I am neither a recent college grad, nor a wealthy ex-financial - I am a mid-career person with a mortgage, car payments, etc. For me and my family, the risks of starting my own business can be very high. And if I were a recently laid-off mid-career worker, the risks are even higher. How then do I manage to untangle the risk and rewards of opening my own business?

How do we go forward?

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