Is it really required to be an entrepreneur?

It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case you fail by default!

J.K. Rowling

The world is changing faster than ever. What used to take decades, is taking months. What we see right now is the illusion which people might have had for many decades about the workplace being the secure place for the rest of your lives. For the first time, we realize that our children will not do as well as us. We have seen our friends get laid off, we have been laid off and receive pay cuts. People are overworked and underpaid. They seem to have less time and less freedom, living under constant pressure. Most of the times it has to be by the force that even if your employer loves you, they might have to let you go. There is something wrong that on Monday morning, the heart attack rate increases by 35%. Technology is accelerating, and job security is declining. It just doesn’t seem that old ways are making a living as reliable as it used to be. In every aspect of life, we find a better way out there, but we still follow the old way because it gives us comfort and security. We are definitely living in the best place if we think of the numerous positives. However, still, some people around there are complaining and being cynical. Everyone, at least some point in their life, is wining about this old model and wanting to leave it.

Since so much of our lives revolve around our work and the way we make our living, many still have this thought in their mind that there ought to be a better way. The biggest challenge our world is facing today is not making money, but what are we going to do with the displaced employed people. People are afraid of making the wrong decision. People are so scared of the unknown and also that “maybe I don’t have the skills.” Hey all, industrial age is getting over. It’s dying. And that is why going to school to get a job is an obsolete idea. A steady paycheck in the industrial age is an outdated idea.

It is the search for answers that has pushed me right about it today. We all have read about entrepreneurs and their journey. Some have been through their journey of entrepreneurship for more than 30-40 years, struggling at times but eventually succeeding. Some are best selling authors; some have coached and guided millions of aspiring entrepreneurs to kick start their own venture. In contrast, some are giving their life to solve social causes. So, all of them feel that there is definitely a better way in how we make a living. The career landscape has changed entirely, and many are still working out in a career landscape which is surely dying or replaceable. What worked for previous generations isn’t working as well today. Today I want to discuss three critical questions: –

1. What’s really going on in our working world today?

2. In this new economy, is it essential to become an entrepreneur, or is it safer to work for someone else?

3. If a person decides to become an entrepreneur and start their own business, what are the traditional options available and risks involved?

To help in this journey, I have brought together some most excellent experts and thought leaders in the field of entrepreneurship to share the real facts with you. My intention is to give you new information that will allow making choices that are not limited to an old, outdated model. Let’s start!

What’s going on in our working world today?

Paul Zane Pilzer – Economist, Entrepreneur, Professor and Best selling author, Economic Advisor to two US presidents says – Let’s look at unemployment. 30 – 40% is honestly not working or would be working. In the US, the government says if you haven’t got a job in 6 months, they don’t call you unemployed, but they pretend that you have dropped out of the labour force. I have often said unemployment, preferably structural unemployment, i.e. unemployment, due to technological changes, is the first sign of economic growth. Think of it 10 people living on an island, they go every day out to fish. And then technology shows up, and a visionary brings them a net. Now using the net, one pilot the boat one throws the net, two fishermen can do what 10 people could do earlier. That is a 500% increase in productivity in one day. You don’t have to learn a lot to throw a net, than throwing a fishing line. The island has big a problem- 80% unemployment but still has all the wealth of the fish because 2 people caught the same amount of fish as 10 did.

Now looking back in history these changes required 1000 of years and during that time we went into farming and transportation, some of them became doctors, teachers, employees etc.- we developed all these professions with new manufacturing jobs. Today these changes occur in one day when this technological advancement occurs, and we don’t have the social structures to deal with it- to retrain the unemployed people.

So, what’s interestingis, as we travel across the country as well as the world, the way we work, and the way we are paid for work, is changing pretty dramatically?

Dr O.C. Ferrell- Professor of Marketing- the University of New Mexico says-

On a Global basis, everything is being turned upside down because of rapidly expanding technologies. They are eliminating old jobs, and they leave many people, not ready, for the new jobs that exist.

Chris Brogan- New York times Bestselling Author, Trust Agents says-

 A lot of demand in public companies was to squeeze out all the humans and possibly make as much margins as possible.

Robert Kiyosaki, Entrepreneur, Educator and Author, Rich Dad Poor Dad says- the idea of job security in this information age is so obsolete but is still taught to us in our school system. That’s where the problem starts. There is no financial education taught in schools, and people are always trained to be employees and work for the paycheck. This is a chart of the middle class.

What’s happening in the middle class, those who went to school, their income is coming down in years. Our parents still say –“Go to school pass with good marks, get into a good college, and your life is set(i.e. you will get a good job).” So now what happens to all these people whose charts are dropping they collectively comprise of the new section of people called “the working poor”.

And this is what happens to “working poor” that everyone says that poverty is ending. Poverty may be ending, but the reality is working poverty is going up because of the food stamps usage (similar to India, ration cardholders). Food stamps in America are going through the roof right now as people can’t earn what they call is a living wage.

Jordan Adler, Entrepreneur and Author, Beach Money says-

Most people have experienced having financial pressures that I think, have been greater than what they have experienced in the past.

Ali Brown, Entrepreneur, Author and Mentor says-

If you aren’t working for yourself, then it might be a tough thing for a lot of people.

Les Brown, Authority on Achievement and Author, Fight for your dreams, says – Today if you want to control your future, the 40-40 plan is gone. You graduate from college, get a job, work for 40 hours a week for 40 years. That day is gone.

So, somebody actually needs to tell us what’s even going on. And this is really interesting as people are going back to school because they think, “ If I go back to school, I will get an excellent job.” This is what happens to “Sallie Mae,” i.e. student loan guys. The student loan is going through the roof. Now it’s almost a trillion dollars. Student loan debt is also like credit card debt. So, when people stop using a credit card, the government got people to have student loan debt. The problem with student loan debt is that you will never be forgiven, but in a credit card debt, you can be declared bankruptcy and everything can be ignored (All that you have to do is maybe liquidate your assets and go to Jail for a short period.) Student loan debt is like bankruptcy, but you still own it. Let’s see the next chart here, what is happening to wages of college Graduates- it’s going down. You go to college, accumulate all this debt but earn less money. That’s not intelligent!

Brian Tracy, Entrepreneur and Author, Psychology of achievement says

The average person who is working for a lifetime in America today, who is 65, has $41000 in asset- which is just enough to survive.

Harry S. Dent. JR, Economist and New York Times Best Selling Author says-In the United States, we have about only $17 trillion in debt, i.e. a federal number in government debt. Another $2 trillion in municipal debt but let’s say that amounts to $20 trillion. There is $40 trillion in private debt, which totals to $60 trillion. Waaaaaitt!! But when you add something we never had before is Unfunded portion of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid- the conservative estimate from outside firms is about $67 trillion and growing (less conservative estimate is $84 trillion or high). That summed up conservatively amounts to $127 trillion in total debt. Debt is like a drug – when you take the excess of it might enhance your performance, but you may a pay a reasonable cost that might eventually kill you. That’s what happens, more and more debt, less performance eventually crashing the whole system. That’s what we are at – 8.2 X GDP.

You know what I feel sorry for? I feel sorry for the person who dreads going to work, who is sick to their stomach and doesn’t want to go to work on Monday morning, who hates their Alarm clock. It’s a little glimmer of hope on a Wednesday because it’s a Hump day (Etymology. The term alludes to the fact that Wednesday is the middle of the work week, meaning that one has made it “over the hump” towards the weekend). Then they say that Thank god it’s Friday (TGIF)!! Then they live for those two days a week when they get be themselves. They don’t have to be around the people they don’t like and play the political game in the office, and they don’t have to live this half-life. The person that worked for 50 weeks a year, just to get that two weeks for vacation- you know what happens to them now? They don’t have a holiday. They have a staycation. They have time off from work, but they can’t go where they want to go. Because of all these debts, they hate their alarm clock, they can’t sleep unless and are done, they have to spend a lot of time in traffic.

There has to be a better way. Either none know about it, or they want to stay in their comfort zone and don’t want to take it.

Richard Bliss Brooke, Entrepreneur and Author, The Four Year Career says- The basis of their life is “worry”. I am worried about that maybe I will be fired, maybe my company will go out of business, perhaps I might fail to pay my bills, I am worried how will I send my children to college, I am worried that what will happen if the transmission of my car breaks and I can’t fix it. People live in a sea of worry, and it eats at them. Those signs that people having depression didn’t say that I came from unemployment from a cubicle. They say I am looking for work. A job is just a unit of measurement, but work is what they are going after.

It’s time to look in the mirror and say that it’s not the economy; it’s my economy. It’s my little world where I am that I need to prove that I am not waiting for “the economy” to come back because frankly, “the economy” is doing great in this country.

We all have an idea of Wall Street- the financial center of the planet. That’s the place where most of the people’s money goes at least be held over time. With interest rate in banks effectively “zero” (In India it varies between 3-4%), most people say it will continue to be it for the next 20, 30 or even 40 years. So, people won’t have any choice than to put their future into equities, i.e. to put their fate in the hands of other people on this stock market and hope that the stock market goes up.  That’s one way of doing it. But it’s my personal belief that you put your future into the hands of yourself, in other words, you have to earn power by yourself. I think that’s the better investment ever than these guys. I believe you controlling your future is the best investment than handing it over to these guys.

The average household income in the USA is about $50,000 a year- what they call the middle class. To reach the top 25% of income earners you need at least $90,000 /year, to get the top 10% would a combined household income about $140,000 /year, top 5% – a $190,000 and the top 1% this number is at least $380,000 /year.

So here is the question- What do you think will give you the best chance to move up to the top 10%, 5%, 1% and beyond?

In my opinion and in the opinion of many experts is to become an entrepreneur, i.e. to become your own boss.

Chris Brogan says– I think you need to be a business owner. The only time that someone says that I want to become an employee is the only time they say that they have surrendered. It is no way kindness when I tell them that they would be a great employee.

Harvey S. Dent JR says– The other status symbol that has been increasing recently is a lifestyle that when people own their own business or work out of their houses- I admire them that gosh…I wish I could do that!

Les Brown says– the spirit of the entrepreneur is to be a risk-taker and be resourceful and unstoppable and have a vision of yourself beyond where you are, and not willing to settle for life as is.

Susan Sly, Entrepreneur and Author, the have it all Woman says – Think of the great entrepreneurs, they are visionary, they have heart, they are willing to do today that others won’t and willing to do tomorrow what others can’t.

Bob Proctor, Chairman, Proctor Gallagher Institute says– Personally, I don’t think of the new economy or the old economy but I create my own economy. The entrepreneurs are in control, decide what the economies would be like.

Kim Kiyosaki, Entrepreneur and Author, Rich Woman says– In the world of entrepreneurship there are no limits, you can work as much as you want to depend upon how smart you become, how great a team you put together.

Mark Victor Hansen, Entrepreneur and Co-author, Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, says– There is no more lifetime business more rewarding than becoming an entrepreneur.

Paul Zane Pilzer says – Why in America, where people can do anything they want, are willing to give up their freedom, to become what we call as a “Modern Day Slave” to shut up and leave for work at 7.30 A.M. and leave from work at 5.30 P.M. – basically do what your employers tell you.

When people decide to become entrepreneurs, they have some traditional options which are riskier you might think.

Kevin Harrington, Entrepreneur and Original Shark on Shark Tank, says -Any kind of retail business or retail build-out is costly. Even these small little yoghurt stores where they are putting little machines where they are giving out these flavours, you are spending about $200,000 to own a yoghurt shop. I would love to buy a Dunkin Donut shop, but it’s half a million just to start. I don’t have that “just in case” money.

70% of Americans love to be their own boss according to recent polls, but they don’t know how to get there. So, what we can do?

  1. Owning an EXISTING BUSINESS – Buy an existing business, if someone is selling his business (rather the thing to ask is why is he selling his own business- that’s usually because that’s probably HARD!! Probably it’s not making as much money as they hope.)
  2. Owning a FRANCHISE – We can buy a franchise. Less risk, proven system. But it’s damn expensive, to be able to do that.
  3. Having a GENIUS IDEA – We can start something from scratch. This is where a lot of people say “I don’t have the guts to do it. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the product idea, the market sense, expertise… whatever it’s going to take to get there. And I can’t risk my family to do it.”
  4. We can become AN INVESTOR. A lot of people invest in trying and figuring out a way, but you have to be pretty smart with that game too. Right?? A leading magazine says that you will be called an investor only if you are investing $1 million every year. So, for that, you have to have the money to make money work for you. But isn’t it the starting problem.

Harry S. Dent. JR. says – Venture capitalist, who are the very best, who are sophisticated in investing, do breakthrough businesses make 1 out of 11. That means 10 out of 11 are a mediocre affair. There are angel investors lucky to have 1 out of 15 or 20.

Robert Kiyosaki says – A business is a team sport.  I have to have accountants, I have to have Engineers, system designers, I have to have sales, marketing, I have to have mission statements, I have to have legal and all that. For an average person, one doesn’t have those skills to put people together.

So, the bottom line of all the 4 options is-

  1. They take a lot of money
  2. They take expertise.
  3. They take time. Here time means that to enjoy the fruits of your own business. It will take till the retirement age if you start now.

All of this adds up to too much risk for most people.

Chris Brogan says– I bought a business from someone else and it was a lot of work. Then you would be thinking- why did I just do because ultimately I own only the email address (LOL!!) and overpaid for it.

Kody Bateman, Entrepreneur, mentor and Author saysPeople who start their own business, they spent a lot of money, lot of time and effort and get things started. And the more you invest upfront, the harder you work at it.

Dr Linda Ferrell, Professor Marketing, University of New Mexico, says- You know what the success rate of a restaurant is? About 90% of them fail in a year or less. And I am talking about non-franchise restaurants,whereas in a franchise business you have to invest a lot of money- the students and newly turned jobbies (less than 15-20 years in jobs) can’t even get there.

What if there was a way that you had all the proven aspects, the comfort aspects and still control your own life. What if there is both? In other words, you don’t have to create everything from scratch, you don’t have to be a super leader. What if there is a proven product already? What if there is a proven system already, proven training already except an employer?

Do you think more people would be open to working in this environment? Sometimes called “Volunteer for profit”.    

So, in my search to make a better way for a living, I came to the conclusion that becoming an entrepreneur is actually safer than being an employee. Obviously, this is for the long term. But better to start today than never. So, I leave you with the following questions-

  1. The current pandemic situation has taught a lot of people that “Job isn’t really secure!” So, how long one should wait? (If you still have it, that’s amazing and kudos to you.)
  2. Are you thinking to start a business and eventually create “a system”? So that the system works even if you aren’t actively working?

Let me make it more clear- If you are thinking of starting your own business, to earn a lot of money, there are many ways you can earn a lot. But the point I am trying to make is “You have to work all your life for it. Then it stops.” Can you build a system that earns you money even when you aren’t working, till the time your next generation takes it up?

  • Do you want to start a business in your 40s and wait, cross the 10-year mark, make it stable and little profitable and stay to enjoy the fruits when people are mentally switched off from life?
  • Last but not least, do you have a vision- where do you want to reach in life and what are you doing for the same? If not, find a mentor.

Do share your understanding in the comment section below. I hope this finds your answers and would love to know the options you have. Let’s make it more interactive for others as well.

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