How Entrepreneurship Is the Safest Form of Business
// Background //
Remember that great business idea you and your friends talked about on summer break, but you never quite got around to doing it because you heard statistics like 90% of businesses fail within the first five years, or you envisioned yourself having to move in with your parents when instead you could just go work at a major corporation and sound like you have your life together at family reunions?
Gallup research shows that a majority of Americans want to start their own business, but only 10% do. Why don't the majority of people do what they want to do? In many cases, the perception of risk associated with entrepreneurship holds people back from pursuing their dreams when they can stay in their 'safe' corporate career. Let's talk about that risk.
// The Breakdown //
Is entrepreneurship risky? Sure, everything is. But if you're investing in the stock market, for example, how risky is it to put all your money in one company? It's common knowledge that a risk-averse investor will diversify their income streams.
Similarly, how risky is it to entrust your entire paycheck in the hands of one manager who may or may not like you based on how much you remind them of their cousin? Think about it, how risky is it to work for a corporation that is paying analysts in New York right now to come up with ways to “optimize operations” and automate your job? Labor is the largest cost for organizations, and – especially for publicly traded corporations who are pressured to produce quarterly growth – eliminating jobs is one of the fastest ways to improve the bottom line.
Now, contrast this to getting your paycheck from as many different customers for whom you can create and communicate value.
If you can create and communicate value for others, you will make money, and you’ll find a lot more fulfillment in doing it.
At this point, you may be thinking, creating and communicating value for others is still risky, because how do I know what value to create, and for whom, and how best to communicate that value to them? Good question, let’s break down creating and communicating value.
// Create // One of the best ways to create value is to solve problems for people. Thankfully, everyone has problems. Even solutions to problems create other problems (think about cell phones allowing us to call an ambulance faster, but also leading to distracted driving accidents). However, problems are opportunities for entrepreneurs. Most people know their problems, and many people are more than willing to tell you their problems, even when you don’t ask.
So, to create value, just talk to people (or organizations) with the means to pay you, find out their biggest problems, and then find a way to solve that problem - or even just facilitate someone else solving that problem for them.
If you’re not a fan of asking people about their problems, you’re in luck, because if you Google “business ideas”, there are 2.8 billion results. But maybe you don’t have any money to start a business? Totally cool, you can Google “business ideas that require no money” and you get over 1 billion results.
It has never been easier to create value for others. There are more resources than you could ever take advantage of online to help you come up with, pursue, and scale an idea, so don’t let coming up with the “perfect idea” hold you back.
// Communicate // Once you understand whose problem you are solving, use their vocabulary to describe the problem and how you solve it as simply as possible. You may be tempted to dive deep into the problem to prove you understand it, and it could seem logical to break down every element of your solution to demonstrate that it works. However, people now have an attention span of only 8 seconds, which, yes, is indeed shorter than that of a goldfish. So, we want to communicate as concisely as possible.
That doesn’t mean we’re vague, that just means we’re clear. For example, a web designer can say they make extraordinary websites, or they can say they optimize meta-data, header tags, and alt-text to maximize SEO and increase SERP. Both are true statements, but only one connects with people. While there are other best practices to communicate in a compelling way, such as communicating with stories, or keeping content unexpected and emotional, if you can explain your solution to a problem in a simple way, you will be on the right track.
// Risk Summary //
As a potential entrepreneur, don’t put pressure on yourself to have all the answers before your begin. Often times, entrepreneurs are good listeners more than anything else. They ask the market what it wants, then finds a way to give it to them. The vast majority of businesses fail because they fail to recognize this simple truth:
You are not your market.
Just because you would buy your product or service doesn’t mean others will. If you build it, they won’t come if what you built doesn’t help them. Entrepreneurship is not about you, you are not your own boss, and you don’t call the shots. Every customer is your boss. True, you mitigate your risk by having multiple bosses, but they’re still the ones paying your paycheck, so you have to create value for them and communicate it in their language. As Donald Miller from StoryBrand says, make your customer the hero of your story.
// Next Step //
To be an entrepreneur, you don’t have to quit your job tomorrow and then start Googling businesses to start, that’s not smart. You can start creating value by solving problems in the evenings and weekends, slowly creating a customer base until you feel confident to leave your job, or until you can convince investors to give you money, so you never lose a paycheck. In fact, 44 million Americans have side-hustles, the internet makes it too easy not to try.
The question is, do you want to put your financial security in one entity that’s more concerned about corporate profit than your well-being (remember, you are your employer’s biggest expense), or do you want to create your future by creating value for others?
Need help launching your business? We get it, there's a lot to focus on, which is why we make extraordinary websites extraordinarily simple for you. Let's talk.