The world of entrepreneurship is often portrayed as this black and white way of living. Magazine covers are full of people who have given their lives to grow a billion-dollar tech company and the mantra around these people are that the entrepreneurs who want to sell a big company themselves. This means long hours, giving everything you have and more, all while participating in a hardcore boy’s club.
If that were true for everyone, hardly anyone would be involved in this approach. Those that are often characterised as young with no responsibility, or they are rich, with a huge paid or unpaid support system. But I think there is a much broader way to think of entrepreneurship.
Some freelancers run their lives as if they are working for a company. At the other end of the spectrum, some freelancers blend the line between freelancing and entrepreneurship. For most people, freelancing is a great way to get control over your life. For a wide range of reasons, people do not want to go into an office every day, and I understand that perspective. If you are booking gig after gig to pay the bills, you are, in effect, running your own business.
It is a lifestyle business that has a goal of creating a stable life. This is the opposite of a tech startup which creates a very unstable life that allows you to pay a lottery game with a potentially huge exit. In the freelance world, you could aim for low-paying but steady jobs, or you could take a high-risk, high-reward approach and aim to collect high-budget clients that allow you to hire other people to do the work.
Further down the spectrum would be a freelancer who creates a brand identity for the freelance business and collects lucrative clients. This approach can carry a lot of risks, you need a pool of big clients and they need to be consistent with your brand. But the exit potential emerges if you take that risk.
There is a type of person who insists on making movies, writing novels, playing music, or some other of those incredibly unlikely to pay well dream boat lives, all of them starving artists. But that is not cool anymore. It is not fun to starve, and most parents will let you live at home anyway. But maybe most important is that it is difficult to do good art with other real-life complications getting in the way, like being able to eat.
That means that most artists today are also taking up entrepreneurship. Some people are more entrepreneur than artists – Andy Warhol set the standard for this. Today’s version is more like Damien Hirst, who hires forty people to produce paintings of lots of dots that sell for millions of dollars. A good movie about the entrepreneurial nature of art is Exit Through the Gift Shop. It is insightful. You must see this movie if you want to better understand the art-world entrepreneur.
Outsourcing Your Own Job
I have a friend called Fred, he works in Sales and he is a typical salesperson in that he has got a million ideas for how to get people to buy and he has a million ways he wants his boss to tweak the product so he can sell it. But he hates doing the detail-orientated work, like sending email inquirers.
My friend Fred told me that his boss said to him “Fred, can you send me your sales pipeline at the end of the day,” and Fred would say “Yeah, sure” which Fred told me actually translates to “I hate the task you have just given me”.
But then one day Fred said, “Oh. Sure, great. I will get that to you right away”. Apparently, his boss began to get nervous. Fred tells me that he hired someone else to do that part of his job. Fred thought his boss would be upset, but his boss ended up congratulating him on his entrepreneurial response to problem-solving. Fred ended up being on the top salesmen at his company because he found a better way of working for him.
The entrepreneur spectrum is surprisingly vast. There are many people who take notes from an entrepreneurial mindset. From salesmen to artists they all find their own opportunities. Out of the box thinking is what unifies all these individuals. Solving problems in new and unique ways is exactly what pretty much any sector needs. So, we can all take a page out of the entrepreneurial book.