According to the dictionary, “entrepreneur” is a term applied to a person who is willing to launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome. What the hell does that mean? We all start things and accept responsibility for the outcomes, unless of course we don’t because we expect handouts if things don’t work out.
As far as I can tell, many of us want to be entrepreneurs because it sounds so sexy. We dream of starting the next multi-million dollar company, get recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine, and earn a fortune in the process. Yet, this type of success is unlikely for many of us. We don’t have a great business plan, we run out of capital, we don’t have charisma, and we lack the perseverance to keep on going.
THE PROBLEMATIC ISSUE
Perhaps one of the biggest problems we have is that we think in an “all or nothing mentality“. If we don’t have instant, incredible success we call ourselves a failure. On the flip side, there are many online entrepreneurs who claim they are killing it, and that you too can make a fortune online if you just buy their eBook. I love that circular pitch of selling information products that teach you how to sell information products so you can make money online. It’s brilliant, because people keep buying it, otherwise there wouldn’t be these types of products flooding the market if people didn’t.
Making money off of the minimalist movement is particularly peculiar. Can you believe that people actually pay money to buy a product on how to lead a minimalist lifestyle? Seriously, just sell all your belongings, live as sparsely as possible, and you are a minimalist! Online entrepreneurship is great, but without transparency of income and expenses, it’s hard to take anybody seriously.
I really want you guys to be careful when following the advice of an online entrepreneur who shows no transparency. There is a reason for such opaqueness. The reason is because they are making a laughably minuscule amount of income. You know what I’m talking about. The guy who makes $30,000 a year by teaching you how to sell something to make $100,000 a year. If you can trick enough people to subscribe or pay, you will get there!
SOME SAY IT’S A STATE OF MIND
Many of us are all entrepreneurs based on the official definition of the word. Yet, how many of us are “real entrepreneurs”? Some say being an entrepreneur is a state of mind. An entrepreneur has conquered insecurity and plans to stick it to the man. That’s nice. Whenever you have someone who thinks their way is superior, you know there’s a problem.
If you’ve actually built something from nothing and depend on the venture as your main source of income, then I say you are a real entrepreneur. However, there’s one tiny thing that is important to point out. If you aren’t making any money and heaven forbid, lose a lot of money over the years, maybe you aren’t a real entrepreneur?
All of us can do absolutely nothing and make no money, hence you are no different from any of us who do nothing! In fact, if you are a loss making entrepreneur for an extended period of time you might be much worse than anybody who does nothing! Oh, I can feel the annoyance of this fine logic now.
It’s easy to look down upon the 9-to-5 community as an entrepreneur because in their eyes, 9-to-5ers don’t take enough risks. Sometimes, they forget that 9-to-5ers might like a steady paycheck, health care, and security. Perhaps one is taking plenty of risks with their career within their organization? That doesn’t matter to the entrepreneur, because anything other than complete risk-taking is frowned upon. That’ OK with me. What we need to understand is that it’s very difficult to become a successful, real entrepreneur. Hence, let them vent their frustration.
THE HURDLE RATE TO BECOME A REAL ENTREPRENEUR
There’s too much cream puff fluff. I don’t consider anybody a real entrepreneur if they cannot make the average per capita income of their state within 3 years. That’s right. If you live in California and make less than $42,000 a year from your entrepreneurial activities, you aren’t a real entrepreneur.
The hurdle is $46,000 in New York, but only $30,000 in Mississippi. If you live outside of America, use the per capita income of your country as a benchmark. Seriously, this is the bare minimum of what can be considered an entrepreneur, especially given all the taxes, healthcare benefits and other expenses you must provide for.
You can be an entrepreneur in the making, but after at most 3 years, if you are not making the average per capita income of your state, you may want to give up and get a day job. And while working at your day job, if you still have the entrepreneurial itch, do both! I always recommend people at least start their blog on the side while working to see if they can gain any traction.
You aren’t doing your future any favors by spinning your wheels and keeping a failed business alive for a prolonged period of time. So many of us online think we’re entrepreneurs. In reality, we’re just hobbyists doing things on the side and collecting an allowance.
STARTING AN ONLINE BUSINESS
It’s been around seven years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. But it took 2.5 years for me to make a livable income before I decided to engineer my layoff and focus on my business full-time. Never quit your job, get laid off instead for the severance package, WARN act pay, healthcare benefits, and the ability to collect unemployment benefits. You want as long of a financial runway as possible for your entrepreneurial endeavors. In fact, my last tranche of severance pay is in 1Q2017, a full five years after I left my day job!
If you enjoy being your own boss, writing, connecting with people online, traveling, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with Bluehost. You can also get plenty of consulting gigs from companies in your space looking for your expertise. Starting a site / online business has never been easier. You never know where the journey will take you!
Updated for 2017 and beyond.
Sam – “Slicing Through Our Delusions“