I recently received an email from a graduate of my alma mater, Albion College. Albion keeps pretty good tabs on Alumni...so if a student has a question, they can easily hunt me down. As WCL just passed the one year mark, this graduate reached out to me to ask my "infinite wisdom" on entrepreneurship. His question was: How did you take the leap from the corporate world to owning your own business?
I started my email response with the absurd idea that I could condense my saga of a story into a simple two sentence answer. However, once I started typing, this email quickly became an outlet to express my emotions of the past year - the achievements, frustrations, mistakes, and strokes of luck. I realized that I really should be expressing this in WCL's blog instead of in an email to a confused college graduate. So, with the help of the wonderful "copy and paste" tool, here's my infinite wisdom on deciding to become a business owner:
"Your question doesn't really have a simple answer. I graduated from Albion in Dec 2007 and spent 3 years traveling/working independently before starting WCL. I never entered the corporate world because I knew from one summer internship, that environment wasn't for me. I've always been one to blaze my own path, so I worked in the media industries - film, music, and with a magazine. I never imagined that I'd start my own business, but after working four months with a startup, I realized that the incorporation process isn't that complicated. There is no barrier of entry. All you really need is an idea, a few forms, and a few hundred dollars.
It's keeping a business alive that's the hard part. Most startups fail because people give up. They aren't willing to push through the hard part before it gets...well, easier. Not to say it'll EVER be easy, but those first few years are trying. Determination and persistence are the key ingredients. And I figured - I'm determined and persistent. So why not?
I don't know your situation, but if you are thinking of starting your own business, you should weigh the pros and cons. For me, the PROS are: passionate work, my own schedule, the ability to travel, recognition for my efforts, and control. The CONS are: a very small paycheck, lots of pressure, lots of responsibility, and working alone (altho sometimes it's nice, most of the time it's not).
I truly believe that becoming an entrepreneur is a personality trait. Everyone likes the PROS, but only certain people can handle the CONS. I love owning WCL, but I have moments when I break down. It's not easy. Most often, my struggle is making decisions. I find myself saying "I wish someone else would tell me what to do". Then, I just suck it up, believe in myself, and make a decision. Right or wrong, I have to own it.
This past year, I've learned more about myself than any school or corporate job could have taught me. I'm truly challenged. I love that and know I am growing leaps and bounds as an individual.
Hope that helped. If you have any more questions, general or specific, don't hesitate to send em my way.
Thanks...and good luck!"