“Do you think I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?”, asked Laura.
The question took me by surprise: She’s been considering leaving her corporate job for the past couple of months, and do her own startup. I was afraid my answer might alter her decision one way or another. “I don’t know,” I answered, ” Why don’t you give it a try and see if it works out”.
But I was unsatisfied with my own answer, and I kept thinking about it for the past couple of days.
This morning, while reading Carl Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”, I found my answer.
When Freud made allusions to Jung indicating that he regarded him as his successor, Jung refused. Why? In his own words:
I was concerned with investigating the truth, not with questions of social prestige.
If you live in Silicon Valley, every other person you meet is an entrepreneur. I had the privilege to work with dozens of them, and to chat with hundreds. I can say that each person I talked to falls into one of two categories:
- The entrepreneur: someone whose primary focus is people (customers, employees, partners,…) with a secondary focus on business and markets.
- The wantrepreneur: someone whose primary focus is a startup idea with a secondary focus on success and social identity.
The funny thing is that most “real” entrepreneurs I have met never even call themselves entrepreneurs. They are usually humble and down to Earth, talk less, listen more, and act a lot more. They are more interested in people and in adding value to their lives, than in labels and social prestige.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should be an entrepreneur, here’s a better question to ask: Are you interested in helping others and constantly adding value to their lives, even at the expense of your own comfort and success?
The best way to find the answer is by trying it out: Figure out a way you can help someone today , and go do it for free. Tomorrow, figure out how you can help two people. Next week, help ten people. Then do a reality check: are you really adding value? are you enjoying it enough to do it even if you’re not paid for it? Can you scale it to add value to 100 or 1000 people in the next couple of months?
When Buckminster Fuller stood on a bridge ready to take his own life, he realized that it wasn’t his to take. It belonged to the universe. Fuller then embarked on an experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity. His core belief was that * there is an integrity operating in this universe that sustains and rewards those who genuinely work to improve the conditions of humanity*, and his life was the best proof.
I strongly believe that if your goal is to genuinely help others and add value to their lives, you’ll make a great entrepreneur!