I again woke up this morning at 6 a.m. While half asleep, I turned on the television to hear the latest tragedies going on in the world, waiting for the smell of coffee to create that well-needed explosion in my head that tells me, "Another day at the office, can’t wait to get there!"
But do I really feel this way? After all, it’s not my office. I am only employed there. I don’t own any shares. My brain power is simply being exploited until I have nothing left to give, and then I will be put out to pasture. I command respect only insofar as I perform well for others and not for myself. If I need a pen, computer, chair, or some privacy, I have to ask for it. So, who am I kidding? None of this is mine, so why am I here? Is there somewhere else I should be? Is there something else I should be doing?
These are some of the ever-mounting, ever-evolving thoughts and frustrations a seasoned and experienced executive has when they feel a burning sensation that they could run a business of their own. They can strike out and claim their dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Imagine a place of business where every element is created by you, nurtured and grown by you -- where the pulse, flow and drive is set solely by the vision you drive.
So what’s stopping you? Why is now not the right time and “some other time” is? Let’s further explore this to help you decide whether the executive life or entrepreneur life are right for you.
1. Is the C-suite of value to you?
Most people who join an organization that has an abundance of upward mobility dream of the elusive and coveted C-suite. Sleepless nights and countless dreams are had thinking of how one can join that level. It’s made up of executives whose lofty titles say something about who they are before they even speak. It further confirms that you’ve earned that title that now follows you whenever and wherever your name is spoken.
So think, would you rather contribute to a title or create something that is of your doing for the greater good?
2. Career ladders have an end.
Your focus is to nurture your career: make the right connections, show up at the right events, network and network some more, be brilliant, funny, memorable and relevant. You wear yourself out just thinking about everything required to climb that ladder, and that’s not even taking into account all the work that needs to get done. So many contingencies need to align to aid and abet your master plan to get that title you want, and then what?
As long as you want to continue climbing, the ladder always has an end. Someone else can come along who has a more updated skill set than yours and can do what you do in a cheaper, faster and more result-oriented way. Keep in mind the path you're on as an executive is a finite one, where career change or career endings are inevitable.
3. Is the winding road of entrepreneurial life for you?
The entrepreneurial path has no end. It is ever-changing, adapting and modifying itself to whatever success/failure you are facing. You get out of it what you put into it. The acclaim is yours when you do well, but so is the responsibility of failure. Yes, the risks are higher, but so are the rewards. It is not one long, linear arc but edges and curves that set you on a path of self-discovery, self-discipline, drive and ambition. You contribute to the world by defining your purpose in it.
4. An entrepreneurial spirit and skillset are timeless.
When you set out to be an entrepreneur, there is no expiration date. There is no imposed deadline that awaits you, only the deadline you impose on yourself to achieve. If you have an ability to see the needs in the market that are not being met, there is an endless amount of creativity looking to be crystallized by you, from which others can benefit. The ability to engage others to join you, buy from you and contribute to your vision and to a life you and you alone created, does not atrophy with time.
Are you up to the task?