The word ‘entrepreneur’ is the modern equivalent of ‘royalty’ in a lot of ways. It’s hard to argue that starting a hugely successful business is a highwatermark for your place in society. It’s no wonder millions of people around the world attempt to start a business year after year.
The journey of an entrepreneur is as mythical as it is desired, and the narrative has become pretty standard - someone young spots an opportunity or comes up with an idea, quits college, gets funded by a huge VC and creates an empire seemingly out of nowhere. That’s the sort of entrepreneur you read about in the newspaper. But there’s a problem, this mainstream idea of what it means to be an entrepreneur has created a stereotype that is surprisingly removed from reality.
The ground reality is that the average business owner is nothing like the Mark Zuckerbergs or Evan Spiegels of the world.
The most appealing aspect of running a business is the opportunity to to realise your full potential. You are not bound by a fixed number of hours or a salary. You take the time to create something special and offer it to the world, let demand do the rest.
Most entrepreneurs are not pushed to create businesses because they’ve had a unique eureka moment. They started selling because they needed the money and it soon turned into something big. Asia’s richest man Li Ka Shing, for example, started in his early 20’s with a company that sold plastic flowers.
You don’t even have to be young or rich to start a business. Harland Sanders, for example, was in his mid-50’s by the time he perfected his recipe and started KFC. the son of poor Russian immigrants, Ralph Laurenhad to work after school at the tender age of 12 just afford his own clothes.
It’s important to understand that successful business people are a very diverse bunch. Some inherited their fortunes while others built it from scratch, some had to toil for years in extreme conditions while others were successes overnight. The point I’m trying make here is this - you don’t have to fit the stereotype to start a business. Which brings me to my next point.
You don’t need to quit your job
Creating a business is more than just time-consuming; it’s risky. It is likely your idea will take a few years to find its footing and you may have to wait longer than expected to be able to support yourself entirely on the business.
That’s not a problem. If you have responsibilities and a family, perhaps starting off with baby steps on the side is the best option. You can hang onto that steady paycheck till your business takes a life of its own.
You’ll find millions of people are doing just that, now that it’s a lot easier. Mothers who take care of their infants work from home as freelance social media experts, fathers who have to work their day job, work as Uber drivers at night. Creating a business in your spare time is a daunting challenge, no doubt, but it is doable.
Just because you work a job to keep food on the table for you and your family, doesn’t mean you can’t create something special on the side. Even Albert Einstein wrote his three most successful physics papers while working as a clerk in the patent office. If he could win a Nobel prize while holding down a day job, you can create a business while working 9-to-5.