For almost five years now, I’ve considered myself to be an ‘entrepreneur’.
Actually, that’s a big steaming pile of bullshit. I’ve pretty much been aware of an entrepreneurial flair inside me since my teenage years when I would sell illegally downloaded albums to my friends (oops) and bought and sold DVDs on eBay.
But it wasn’t until five years ago that I actually decided to take the plunge and move into ‘full time self-employment’ with my own personal training business. Since then, I’ve made a living (just about) from a variety of ‘entrepreneurial endeavours’. And I loved the tag of ‘entrepreneur’ and being able to proudly say “I own my own business”.
I spent my youth fascinated with the Richard Bransons and Steve Jobs of this world, dreaming that I too could one day do even 0.1% of what they’ve done. Now, though, I’m just about ready to pack all this entrepreneurial bollocks in.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a “giving up because I can’t do it” sort of thing. I’m not disappearing off with my tail between my legs because everything got too hard and giving up on my dream. On the contrary, dear Watson!
The truth is that I fucking hate being an entrepreneur. The truth is that the last five years of my life have, professionally speaking, been a complete drain. The truth is that I got my dream wrong.
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That may sound like a very weird thing to say. It’s probably more true that I misinterpreted my dream, as opposed to got it wrong.
But the crux of the matter is that I spent the last five years of my life pretending. Pretending to be an entrepreneur, a businessman and a ‘self-employed person’ who was chasing some business dream. And I pretended so well that I fooled myself.
When I really look at what it is I want to achieve and my life to be about, though, it’s not ‘business success’. I didn’t look up to Branson and Jobs growing up because of the companies they built. I looked up to them because they were living a life that meant something.
They didn’t necessarily follow the market and where the money was, per se. They followed their excitement and creativity and built some amazing businesses in the process.
I’m ashamed to say that many things I started over the past five years were because I believed they were a way I could make money, not because I was particularly excited about them. But no longer.
I’ve wondered over the past five years why each business venture always seemed to somewhere along the line leave me with a melancholic deflation, regardless of its financial success or non-success.
Now, I know. It’s because I just plain don’t want to have any ‘business ventures’.
At heart, I just love creating things! Things that I want to create, not that I feel I should create. And things that aren’t judged by those three insufferable letters… R.O.I.
Yes, I’ve discovered that I’m not an entrepreneur. Nor do I care to be one. What kind of entrepreneur would find ROI insufferable? ROI is orgasm land for most entrepreneurs, at least in its traditional meaning.
No, I’m no entrepreneur. I’m an artist.
I know… an artist? I think my pretentious douchebag-ometer just blew a gasket!
Don’t worry though, I’ve not quite taken to going to spoken word clubs wearing a purple beret and sipping on Latvian goat’s milk espresso macchiatos. I’m still willing to drink a Foster’s out the can.
But what this realisation of self-identity means (for me, at least) is that I get to just focus on creating and sharing whatever the fuck I want. I get to write, talk about, build and learn stuff based on what I’m excited about. I get to enjoy myself again!
It may sound strange, but letting go of the entrepreneur tag is liberating!
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Back when I clung onto the idea of being an entrepreneur, not making money meant I was failing. Now, not expressing what I wanted to means I'm failing. Making money while suppressing my creative happiness means I'm failing.
Of course, making money isn’t a bad thing. We all need money to live and, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more of it.
It’s just now I don’t care how I make it. If it comes from a job or a business or whatever, it doesn’t matter. My entire identity, self-concept and sense of self-worth is no longer threatened by the idea of not being self-employed.
Yes, I’d like to make a living from sharing my creativity. And one day I will.
But being able to pay the bills while still having the time to express myself is much more appealing than being a miserable entrepreneur. At least, that’s what I think anyway.
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