The only commonality in one entrepreneur’s journey
from the next is the idea that unknown variables persist.
Destined to be an Entrepreneur
I’ve been attracted to entrepreneurship since I was a kid. At 5-years-old, I sold used ink pens for 10 cents a pop in a door to door operation I created. My business model was simple and potent, consisting of one sku, 100% profit and zero overhead. My conversion rate was unimaginable, converting a sale at 90% of attempts (when adults answered the door). With a healthy flow of word of mouth marketing, coupled with my appeal (some felt sorry for me, and
others appreciated my hustle), I was turning a cold profit…$2 per day!
Fast-forward 19 years…
At 24-years-old I started my own business in the real estate industry and jumped out the gate doing better than I ever hoped. Unfortunately, three years later the market tanked, leading to a hard decision – close up shop and find a new opportunity. I was fortunate to have side-stepped around the massive financial burden that touched most people in the real estate business…but it came at a cost – having to re-enter the corporate world.
A Fast Low to a Quick High
One month into my new job, in a meeting with my manager, I shared my struggles of losing the freedoms that I once had as a business owner. I had hit a low. As I explained my tribulations, it dawned on me that what I had missed wasn’t the real estate industry, it was the utilization of my natural gifts and creativity to formulate and close deals. I loved the entire process; the hunt, the nurture, the challenge, the networking, the teamwork, and the ability to get paid directly based on my performance.
It was during this conversation that the light turned on in my head. I realized that I could operate in an entrepreneurial fashion no matter the arena. I could use this approach to work either as a business owner or an employee. I was passionate about wedging myself in front of unique opportunities and benefiting everyone in my network.
It did not require the ownership of a business to pull this off.
I spent the next 30 days evolving my approach from being an employee, to being a business owner again. Yes, a business owner as an employee. Sounds like a strange concept, but it was a game changer for me (for the better). I took full ownership of the responsibilities that came with my role and managed them as if I were a contracted firm (although I was a non-exempt employee). My new approach quickly raised eyebrows leading me to a significant promotion (50% pay increase) at my six month mark. The promotion placed me at the head of a team in which I went on to have each team member promoted within the next year, including myself again.
After two years I took a new job with a significant increase in responsibility. I’m still under the employment of this company and have been for just under two years.
An Entrepreneur at Heart (and with Benefits)
I know my situation doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional entrepreneur, but I still conduct myself as one and reap many of the benefits. How so? Check the spread below which details some of the benefits:
Passion. I love the art of the deal. While my role isn’t exclusive to sales, I am responsible for negotiating multi-million dollar contracts and developing/managing large client relationships. This isn’t the same type of passion as helping troubled youth, but it’s a factor that holds my interest and makes the job fun.
Time. Everyday my number one goal is to spend as much time with my wife and kids as possible. Being a top performer comes with extended freedom. Part of my drive is not only to continuously increase my pay by increasing my performance, but also to increase my ability to manage my own time.
Creative Control. I work for a large, 60-year-old corporation that employs over 23,000 people around the globe, so as you can imagine, rigidity defines its processes and structure. Even still, when you get positive results, you reach a point where people don’t care how you get them (albeit ethical and within policy).
Ownership. I have a direct manager, but I consider myself to be my boss. By keeping on the right side of the radar (with positive numbers) I don’t have to be coached or reprimanded for poor performance. This keeps micromanagement at a halt.
Money. Having no financial ceiling and being 100% rewarded for my output is difficult to achieve in the corporate world. I haven’t managed to figure this one out, but I am compensated well, and above my peers because I’ve proven myself by performing at a high level.
Preparation is Formless
I’ve made the best of the last four years in the corporate world and have continued to nurture and develop my entrepreneurial spirit. It hasn’t been the most ideal situation, but it has been a fantastic training ground, increasing my business intelligence – further preparing me for a new journey ahead. It’s also been a true test to my determination.
In my closing months as a corporate entrepreneur (yes, I’m going to get back on my own two feet), no longer do I kick myself for leaving my own business, to work for someone else. I’ve taken valuable lessons from my experience in management, leadership, driving business and forging relationships with multi-million dollar clients.
If you can own it and acknowledge it, your preparation has no form; taking shape in any way you need it.
There’s no Right Way
This article boils down to the notion that there is no single right way to go about achieving your aspiration in becoming an entrepreneur. Whether you are aspiring to own a business for the first time, or you want to reclaim a dream – you can. Just because your current situation doesn’t fit into the mold of what an aspiring entrepreneur should look like, doesn’t mean one thing. There’s no right way to go about it, only a wrong way. The only wrong way is inaction. SO ACT NOW!
Many entrepreneurs have taken non-traditional routes to fulfill their dreams. In fact, non-traditional is actually more traditional than not when it comes to an entrepreneur’s journey. I guess we can say that in many cases that an entrepreneur’s journey is simply unusual.
How has your journey differed from what is taught in school, or learned from books and magazines? Please share, your comment may inspire another.
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