A few days ago, I wrote this post about being exceptional. The point of that post was that in the Industrial Age people were hired for their hands and their backs, not for their minds, resourcefulness, and initiative. In this Disruptive Age in which we find ourselves now, hands and backs are not nearly as important as imagination, creativity, resourcefulness, and a proactive approach to making things better.
In that post, I suggested that one should put their heart, soul, and mind into their work, that they should do work that is exceptional. One reader admonished me for leading people down the wrong path. He wrote to me to tell me that there is no way to be truly successful working for someone else. He suggested that I show people the right path, which is, in short,
Entrepreneurship. He told me that for people to be truly successful and make money, they need to work for themselves.
Some people are not born with an entrepreneurial spirit. They don’t have a burning desire to start something, to take a risk, they don’t have a groundbreaking idea they want to share, and they don’t want to invest their life savings in a dream. Many of them don’t want to bootstrap it to create some sort of “side hustle.” Other people have no interest in taking responsibility for creating a business, growing a business, and employing other people. Even though it makes some people happy to do these things, it makes other people miserable.
And then we get the sales. Sales is the great leveler. You can have the greatest entrepreneurial vision in the world but without the ability to sell whatever it is you are going to produce, you will not last long as an entrepreneur. Most people dread the idea of ever having to work in sales, let alone having to do it for their very survival with everything on the line.
As much as I want to agree with the reader who sent me has comments, I can’t. The math is not in his favor. I have no idea how accurate any of this math is, but the estimates suggest that 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. Another 30 percent of small businesses fail in their second year. And by the five-year mark, 50 percent of small businesses are gone. An entrepreneurial adventure can teach those who embark on them great lessons-and sometimes they come with great success. It can also wipe people out completely, especially those without the mindset, the skill set, or the help they need and the understanding of how to create and sustain a business.
Right now, mostly because of Silicon Valley, America is in love with entrepreneurship. I believe this is good for people generally, and even better for America. That said, it isn’t for everyone. Not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur to be successful. There are plenty of people who are succeeding wildly and have the exact life they want because they are pouring their heart and soul and mind into work that they believe makes a difference and that makes them happy. And that’s enough.