Who’s Smarter than an Entrepreneur?

I write and talk a lot about how the now and future economy will be built by entrepreneurs. Not necessarily Steve Jobs or Bill Gates entrepreneurs, those that create billion dollar companies, but one man or one woman shops that create a phenomenal lifestyles for the owners. In my previous article, below, on how to choose a career, I discuss how one woman businesses are growing because many professionals give up the idea of finding a meaningful and stable job with a firm and because the barriers to entry have been significantly lowered with new technology.

One of my favorite business and marketing writers is Mitch Joel. This is what he wrote today.

Inc. Magazine ran an article titled, How The Rich Got Rich, in June of this past year. The article was based on an annual report by the IRS that provided data on the 400 individual income tax returns reporting the largest adjusted gross incomes and it was written by Jeff Haden. In this article, he deciphers the “watching paint dry”-boringness of this data to uncover some interesting kernels…

  • Working for a salary won’t make you rich.
  • Neither will making only safe “income” investments.
  • Neither will investing only in large companies.
  • Owning a business or businesses, whether in part or partnership, could not only build a solid wealth foundation but could someday…
  • Generate a huge financial windfall.

The future of business is small and entrepreneurial (don’t tell the MBAs and consultants).

The workplace has changed. Economics are funky. The security of a steady job in a big, corporate company has all but dissolved. We’ve spent the better part of two decades watching these monstrous organizations crumble (some because of corruption, while others failed to innovate at pace). At the same time, we’ve seen instances where a company like Instagram comes along, plays by their own rules and – whether we like it or not – is able to be sold for a billion dollars to Facebook with not much more than a hope of future growth, expansion and revenue.

It’s not all about the money.

I’ll be the first one to raise my hand in admission that money is not the only driver for success in business and life. Being healthy, happy and [Read more...]

Are You Working Like It’s 1980?

The world is not what you were taught by your parents, teachers and employers. We are beginning to see what researchers have known for years, that what motivates us is not incentives and consequences, but self determination. Daniel Pink writes about this in his excellent book, Drive.

In addition, we may be structuring our work as if it was still the 1980s, because our industry still does it that way and our teachers and bosses still think that way. Professionals like lawyers are especially guilty of this. Most lawyers and law firms still organize their work and delivery of services to their clients like it was done 30 years ago, although maybe with more email.

A great quote from Eric Hoffer via a terrific blog post from Jennifer Alvey:

In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Below Alvey expands on this. Although she is writing about lawyers, it applies to all professions and especially entrepreneurs:

This, to me, is what keeps attorneys stuck in miserable careers. We spend decades in school, learning lessons from people who are themselves are living in a prior decade or era. Those lessons sound like, “Never give up. Don’t be a quitter.” This notion certainly has its use, but is it really the kind of advice you should apply to a dysfunctional relationship? a dysfunctional profession and career?

Another one of my favorites is: Work comes first. You must work first before you can play. If we lived in a world where work had actual limits, and where it didn’t bleed into every nook and crevice of our lives, this would be OK advice. Because of course the rent or mortgage needs paid and we need groceries on the table.

But work, for lawyers and most Americans who aren’t hourly employees, has become this poisonous blob that takes over any empty space in our lives. That not only isn’t healthy, it’s killing us.

I was struck by an article in the Wall St. Journal last week that talked about how single people, including attorneys, are jumping off the fast track so they could have time to do things like grocery shop, do their laundry, work out more than once a week, and maybe pursue a hobby. Possibly even take a vacation. Of course, the WSJ doesn’t actually question the culture that produces such a ridiculous, soul- and body-killing work ethic. Its editors live in the past where hard work for 40 hours a week did produce success and career happiness, and ignore the fact that for most attorneys work hasn’t been 40 hours a week since, oh, the 1980’s or so.

The reward for years of nose to the grindstone work is often illusory. The promised incentives may not be there – no partnership offer or the business folds.  In 2012, with all the new easy ways to connect people and ideas, there is a simpler more efficient way to do work which can make work more fulfilling because you can get your life back.

If you run your own business, think about how you do your work. Is there a better way to create the product or service and a better way to deliver the product or service to your clients or customers? Don’t simply use technology to do things the same way a bit quicker, eg emails instead of letters.

But use technology as your tools to create a new way to do your work that will distinguish you from the competition and make your clients and customers happy.

Be Content and Indispensible

Seth Godin writes about needing more to be happy:

If your happiness is based on always getting a little more than you’ve got…

then you’ve handed control over your happiness to the gatekeepers, built a system that doesn’t scale and prevented yourself from the brave work that leads to a quantum leap.

The industrial system (and the marketing regime) adore the mindset of ‘a little bit more, please’, because it furthers their power. A slightly higher paycheck, a slightly more famous college, an incrementally better car–it’s easy to be seduced by this safe, stepwise progress, and if marketers and bosses can make you feel dissatisfied at every step along the way, even better for them.

Their rules, their increments, and you are always on a treadmill, unhappy today, imagining that the answer lies just over the next hill…

All the data shows us that the people on that hill are just as frustrated as the people on your hill. It demonstrates that the people at that college are just as envious as the people at this college. The never ending cycle (no surprise) never ends.

An alternative is to be happy wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got, but always hungry for the thrill of creating art, of being missed if you’re gone and most of all, doing important work.

Sounds similar to someone else who said:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.