One I would highly recommend. Not because it is a pathway to millionaire status or untold riches, as those areas long a shot at becoming an NBA player. But because entrepreneurship provides those who have the courage, drive, and desire the opportunity for self-expression, empowerment, and autonomous freedom. The rewards of such self-actualization, in time, far exceed any monetary or status payoff that one might be lucky enough to receive. I justify this by saying that at life's end we never have regrets for what we did, only for what we did not do.
The great news is that entering the world of entrepreneurship is quite easy, and therefore accessible to those who are willing to embrace the inherent risks and possesses an "I Want to Win" attitude. Anyone who harbors an entrepreneurial dream can take a leap of faith to pursue that dream. And what about the risk? Not to worry, risk is the cost of an opportunity. Nothing of value is free or cheap, and those who truly want to follow their entrepreneurial dream are willing to pay this cost.
Entrepreneurship Is a Form of Self-Expression
Some people express themselves by writing poetry or novels. Some do it by painting or sculpting—others by building model airplanes or pre-war hot rods. And still, others express themselves by creating a business.
The entrepreneur, like the author or songwriter, has something to say and their forum is the business world.
Their melody is a vision that blends an entrepreneurial dream with a commitment to act. The lyrics are their forward motion with a clear and simple message: "I want to win."
Self-expression is not limited to those business pursuits where a physical object is created. It is most certainly found in less creative, service-oriented businesses, too. The mechanic who fine-tunes a sophisticated engine or the plumber who finds a hidden leak is no less expressive.
Entrepreneurship Is Empowerment
Empowerment is leadership manifested through the act of entrepreneurial self-expression. The moment a theoretical concept, idea, or invention is transformed into a business, the entrepreneur has accepted the role of leader and thus is empowered to build an organization, not of ideas but people executing your vision. The entrepreneur has control over their journey of success rather than being a participant in someone else's quest.
Empowerment is not absolute control over subordinates but is the acceptance of responsibility and the act of delegation. Leadership is not "me" having control over you. Leadership is "me" showing and guiding you. And leadership recognizes that empowerment must be offered to everyone throughout the organization. A leader with an entrepreneurial mindset isn't looking for credit or accolades; they look for results. By empowering those who are dedicating themselves to building your dream you effectively create a trusting bond and an individual who is committed.
Empowerment does require three things: a strong character, being a benevolent advocate of change, and a willingness to encourage a culture of failure. Nothing in business creates more fear than change. Yet without change, a business is on a slippery slope toward irrelevance. And when you allow those you lead the latitude to try and fail without retribution, innovation and creativity will flow effortlessly.
Entrepreneurship Is Freedom
Finally, entrepreneurship gives you autonomous freedom from someone else's dream. It does not provide you with unfettered freedom to do and act as you please or lessen your responsibilities. In fact, being an entrepreneur increases your workload, responsibilities, and burden to perform. However, entrepreneurship gives you the opportunity to choose your path and make decisions that you deem necessary.
There is a cost for this freedom and ironically many who harbor the desire to abandon the corporate world never leave out of fear of this price. They are trapped by the very situation they are trying to escape and are unwilling to pay the price for their opportunity at freedom. The price is risk. Risk is simply the cost of an opportunity.
As I said, if your sole purpose in pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity is riches, I believe you will be sadly forsaken. The odds are simply against you.
However, if you seek personal satisfaction in the form of self-expression, empowerment, and autonomous freedom, then your calling is to pursue an entrepreneurial dream—leap and embrace the risk of starting your business. I highly recommend it.
Entrepreneurs, through creativity and innovation, embrace risk and act as beacons that guide the worldwide economy. The entrepreneurial spirit is more than the drive for success; it's a powerful motivating force enabling regular people to do extraordinary things.
The most gracious deed you can perform for your community, family, and yourself, is entrepreneurship. So often we look at the huge, multinational corporations as the drivers and guardians of our economy when the truth is the millions of small businesses across America deserve the credit. A strong, thriving economy is the result of America's entrepreneurs embracing the risk of self-reliance and venturing out to create their opportunities. New small business startups create over three million new jobs each year.
The greatest news of all is that anyone can be an entrepreneur. The idea that entrepreneurs are only post-MBA wiz-kids whose goal is to create the next Facebook is as much a fallacy as the existence of Bigfoot. Real entrepreneurs are all around us. They are our next-door neighbor, friends, relatives, and strangers standing next to us in the grocery checkout lines. They blend into the fabric of daily life, unnoticed, yet their impact on our American Way of life is formidable. Real life entrepreneurs look like you.
Proof of the vast importance of entrepreneurship is obvious within your community. Drive through any commercial section of your town or city, and you will begin to see the extent of small business' influence�"one small business next to another next to another, each the realization of a dream by an individual who was willing to face down risk for the opportunity to be a business owner. Now multiply this small section of America by the thousands of streets that look just like it, spread across this country and you can begin to see the overwhelming infiltration of our society and importance entrepreneurship has in driving our economy.
However, the importance of entrepreneurship extends beyond its economic impact. With the birth of every new business, the competitive landscape becomes more intense and therefore drives entrepreneurs to be more innovative, productive, and responsive to consumer needs. We all benefit because of the ambition of a vast collection of risk-taking entrepreneurs.
What can you do for your country�"follow your dream, embrace risk, and create your opportunity for success. Be an entrepreneur.
Tom Panaggio has enjoyed a 30-year entrepreneurial career as co-founder of two successful direct marketing companies: Direct Mail Express and Response Mail Express. He is the author of
The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur's Unexpected Edge.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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