10 Things You Think You Know About Being an Entrepreneur


People always ask me questions about entrepreneurship. They ask is being an entrepreneurs good as people say, can I really make money or can anyone do it?

As I was giving a speech to a room of recent immigrants on ‘Starting Your Own Business’, a tiny South Asian woman asked me if it was too late for her to start a business at 89 years of age. Pondering this, I asked her if there were children on the street where she lived in Vancouver. When she said there were many, I suggested an after-school care program for older kids. Bring in 2 or 3 and make a business out of it. She called me a few weeks later and told me she had started her little business at a spritely 89 and was invigorated by the kids.

1. Entrepreneurship is in Your DNA. No they are not born that way. It’s like saying “the Beatles were an overnight success” even though they were turned down several dozen times by record companies.

Some people are better at figures than me, some may be better at planning but we all have our strengths. Some people just have combined talent coupled with opportunity, enthusiasm and learned skills better than others.

2. You Are Your Boss. Holy crow, this is a double-edged sword and the answer is yes and no. When you are trying to sell the world your product or service it is difficult to say no to a customer. Some business owners are afraid to pass up clients without another waiting. To make a sale do you really think you’re in control? Every client or customer will tell you what they want, when and for how much. They may not say it directly but the market will often determine how to fulfill your customer’s needs.

Take the order, give them their change – is that a MacDonald’s sign on your door? You are in charge of your own destiny for sure. If you work hard and smart and choose your customers well you may succeed, alternatively, if you golf twice a week, have others running your shop and take big draws off your cash you will be working for someone else very soon. Take control but others will still run you to some degree. There is a great degree of compromise to being your own boss.

It is very gratifying sometimes to be able to say not take every client that comes through your door.

3. Entrepreneurs are Driven. If you mean focused – yes! You need clarity, planning and fortitude for sure.

For those who have ever been on a diet, you may remember the nutritionist tell you that you can break your diet (yes cheat) once or twice a week? Even diet coaches realize you can’t run on desire. An entrepreneur who is ‘driven’ to work 14-hour days has three problems; he will burn out in short order, secondly he doesn’t see the practicality of having an employee or an assistant to help and finally his family will suffer. It’s like thinking a comedian is funny all the time. Entrepreneurs are people running a business – period.

4. Entrepreneurs Make Lots of Money. Of course, you can make a great living and legacy for your family as an entrepreneur but most simply create a job for them.

I asked an electronic shop owner when he would be ‘over the hump’ with his business. He had his store for two years and he answered with “when I can take a week off in year five”. Wow! Rolling in wealth comes at a cost but my friend was not making vast amounts of ‘dough’, he was barely managing. He knew he had a lot of work to do to make it profitable and had a slow growth all planned out.

I laugh when I see other entrepreneurs at networking meetings. You can tell many of the business or lifestyle coaches are lying when they tell you how well they are doing. They either have a full time job and their business is part-time or they have a successful life partner who pays the bills.

5. You Need Passion to Succeed. If only it were the case. My first business was a photography studio because I had an overwhelming love for taking photos. Just because I was a great photographer with passion didn’t make it obvious I would succeed. You need a variety of traits, opportunities and luck to be successful – passion only helps. You still need to work hard, have a good product or service and have a plan, finances in place, etc.

6. I’ve Opened My Doors, Where is Everyone? A guy I knew made great coffee, had the personality to make friends and people to loan him money. When he opened his shop in an off-beat area of town a bit under-financed, he shrugged and waited for the deluge of customers.

You guessed it; no one came and by the time he started guerrilla marketing it was too late. He didn’t have a plan and he was foolish enough to think people would beat the door down for his coffee. As they say, location is everything, however, you also need the resources behind you.

7. It’s a Glorious Life. You can’t live in a vacuum. It’s tough if none of your friends are entrepreneurs too. Entrepreneurs are constantly alienated by the simple fact that only other entrepreneurs can relate. Unless you have friends who know what you are going through, it can be a lonely existence. Some wives may not understand (they want security), friends will constantly ask you to go for beers or events they think you should be doing failing to remember that your business doesn’t stop when they do.

My close circle-of-friends are all successful entrepreneurs. When I go out for a couple of beers with them we talk about our businesses and relish in sharing everything with each other. Who needs therapy?

8. You’ll have More Freedom. Oh yeah? How about those 80-100 hour weeks because you came up with a great idea at midnight and couldn’t wait for morning to flesh it out? What about the customer who calls on the weekend with a Monday deadline?

Sure I can afford to go golfing on a Tuesday when fewer people are there but who rounds out my foursome? If I go golfing on Tuesday I better have a plan to make up the time that night. Hopefully if you love what you do and are amply rewarded you won’t mind those long hours, just don’t become resentful and take it out on your customers.

9. Entrepreneurs are Happier. Being an entrepreneur ‘will make you happier’ may sound logical to employee-type friends of yours. They may be jealous of you for being your own boss, making decisions by yourself and making tons of money by your own wits. Many of the entrepreneurs I know would be happier employed, many wish they hadn’t started a business while others think being away from family working long hours in their shop is the worst existence a family man can have. Happy people are happy whether they are self-employed or not. Being an entrepreneur is definitely a lifestyle choice.

10. Being an Entrepreneur is for the Young. Pure BS, my research indicates baby boomers are a significant portion of the population seeking new business opportunities as entrepreneurs. They dreamed of retiring at 55 – remember when you could? Unfortunately, those people who retired at 55 or 60 still feel youthful and figure retirement is for the birds.

The question they ask is – NEXT? About 95% of my friends are entrepreneurs and they are all getting up there in age. Most could be retired but love what they do. Take away a man’s purpose and what does he have?

So what the heck is going on here?

Am I trying to tell you that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart? Of course I am, but I am saying that you need to go into this with an open mind and heart knowing that all the obstacles you face, all the excitement you will feel and all the fun you will have will be worth it because you are an Entrepreneur – Rejoice in that!

Gary is CEO of VanAsia Capital Corp., Bizzo Management Group Inc., and Bizzo Integrated Marketing Corp. in Vancouver. London-based Richtopia placed Bizzo on the Top 100 Global Influencers in the World for 2018. He is an Adjunct Professor of Integrated Marketing & Communications, as well as, Consumer Behavior at the New York Institute of Technology, MBA School of Management (Vancouver Campus). Gary can be reached at ceo@garybizzo.com

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