Success is a complicated thing. Before you can even think about achieving it, you must be able to define it. In reality, nobody can define someone else’s success.
I suppose you could say in every field there are different ways to measure success. For instance, in business, there's net worth or income, and in sports, there are statistics or championships.
If you focus on success in the career or business sense, you'd think success would be achievable via the same means, no matter what career path you choose, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Defining the success of a person with a regular job is completely different from defining the success of an entrepreneur. Not only are the end results different, but also, the roads taken are as opposite as night and day.
Hard work, patience and perseverance are needed while going down both roads, but one road is like traveling through a nice neighborhood with signs and people to ask for directions, and the other road is like the show “Naked and Afraid.” You are in an unpopulated area with no signs and no help, and the only person who will have your back is you.
At a regular job, if you get lost or discouraged, there are blueprints on how to handle the situation along the way. You go to your superior, boss or HR manager and ask for help and then move on.
You push through the obstacles and you eventually succeed. There is no shame in that, but if things ever really get bad, you’re going to pick yourself over your employer. You can always get another job and your employer can always find someone to replace you. It’s a win-win for both.
Such right there is the main difference: An entrepreneur can no longer make decisions based on what is best for him or her. He or she needs to make decisions based on what is best for the company.
What is best for your company is NOT always what is best for you. The first five, 10, 15 or 20 years in business, your decisions aren’t about what will make you happy; they are about what's best for the company.
I remember my dad telling me when I was young, "At the end of the day, you need to do what makes you happy." Now, you may be wondering why someone would choose to be an entrepreneur if the job description includes being unhappy for a long period of time.
Just like you, I used to interpret that saying the same way, until I started focusing on the first half of the phrase instead of the second. It’s easy to read it and say, “Okay, I’m going to do what makes me happy.”
However, the key part of the phrase is, “...at the end of the day.” The word "day" isn’t meant to be taken literally; it refers to life.
Being a successful entrepreneur is all about seeing the value in thoughts, ideas and things that don’t exist yet. The stresses of finding success in a regular career and a career as an entrepreneur are very different.
As you climb the corporate ladder, you are not a decision-maker, nor do you have that many responsibilities; you are just another employee.
Do you know what the responsibilities of an entrepreneur are when starting out? Everything. Every good or bad thought, idea and decision rests within the entrepreneur. There is no passing the buck, no voting and there are no do-overs.
To be a successful entrepreneur, your mindset needs to change from day one. When starting a career at an already established company, it is stressful, time-consuming and hard work, but you also get to look forward to the weekends, holidays and vacations.
As an entrepreneur, you dread all of those scenarios, because nothing gets done on the weekends, holidays or vacations. While the feeling of success is rewarding no matter what you decide to do in life, if you do decide to take the path less traveled, you will end up even more satisfied.
Like Tony Gaskins once said, “If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs.” If you’re going to put your blood, sweat and tears into something, make sure the successes or failures that arise will be a direct result of decisions you have made.
At the end of the day, it really is all about being happy. However, success is just a little sweeter when you're the one who can take all the credit for it.
Photo Courtesy: HBO