The question was about whether I thought entrepreneurship was a fad or the way of the future.
To be honest, I had a difficult time answering the question. Based on the site that the article was for and my own background helping business owners, it was implied that I would vehemently promote entrepreneurship as the way of the future.
After all, I’ve been self-employed myself for 14 years (50% of my life) and I have never had a full-time job. If anyone is going to proclaim small business as the way of the future, wouldn’t it be me?
The reality is no, I don’t believe that the current popular vision and beliefs about entrepreneurship are the way of the future.
I say this because I have seen the tides ebb and flow over the last fourteen years. Seven years ago, I was named Entrepreneur of the Year at my prestigious business school – not because I was the best entrepreneur, but because I was the only entrepreneur in my class.
In fact, when I had a crisis moment during the first four months of starting Jess LC full-time, I had only one friend to turn to. Vicki, my dear friend, was the only person I count on to give me an informed opinion about whether I should throw in the towel because she was one of two people I knew who were self-employed and had personally faced the same risks.
So, as you can see, I have seen a time when people laughed at me for starting my own business instead of getting a lucrative corporate job like the rest of my peers. I was the one that my parents were worried about as they dropped me off with all of my boxes in a tiny studio apartment in Chicago and said, “well, at least she can get a job if it doesn’t work out.”
Since then, a lot has changed. The recession proved that going into the corporate world was not a fail-safe plan. The student loan situation showed that going to grad school to delay career decisions was not always a smart financial decision.
The truth is, entrepreneurship has become more easily accessible thanks to technology and the traditional career routes have become more inaccessible (or at best unreliable).
It seems that many awesome and lucrative careers – outside of technology and computer programming – are more difficult to find. And starting a small business from scratch has low barriers to entry and little down-side. The worst that can happen is you go find a job to help you get by. Which is the same option for those who can’t find an amazing corporate job. Either way, you get to control your destiny in a greater way as an entrepreneur and you can always continue to look out for awesome corporate openings.
So with this in mind, it is no wonder that people have flocked to small business as a way to provide for themselves and do what they feel called to do in a deeply and meaningful way.
However, I still don’t think that traditional entrepreneurship is “the way of the future.”
Rather, I believe that widespread entrepreneurship is going to become a phase within a varied career, not a permanent destination.
I believe that working for ourselves can lead to many great new things.
– It can lead to extra income in addition to a full-time job.
– It can allow parents to work from home while raising their children.
– It can provide a stellar portfolio of work that may lead to a dream job opportunity at another company.
– It can be a way to bridge cashflow in between full-time jobs.
But it does not have to be a full-time, life-long career for the majority of people who choose to build their own business in the future.
There is a lot to be said for the benefits of having a small business. But there are many drawbacks as well. And over time, I think the division between having a full-time job and being self-employed will mean less and less.
If Gen Y has taught us anything, it is that they want meaning and work/life balance in their work. And as this generation rises to leadership within large corporations, I have a feeling the cultures will be shifting to maintain and attract top talent. Or, the tech-age companies founded by Gen Y leaders like Facebook, will also continue to innovate and provide the benefits Gen Y employees desire.
I am optimistic that the disconnect between meaning and purpose within a corporation and within a small business will shrink over the next twenty years, and the pros and cons of self-employment will be better understood.
So though permanent entrepreneurship will continue to rise in the years to come, I believe that the true breakthrough lies in understanding that entrepreneurship can also be a wise career option for anyone who wants to have a varied and interesting career that includes a blend of self-employment and corporate or non-profit opportunities.
I have faith that entrepreneurship will not have the black and white stigma (Side hustle or full-time? Always an entrepreneur or never an entrepreneur?) that it has today and that meaningful work within large organizations will become more plentiful.
In the end, I see the future as a place where it won’t matter whether we are working for ourselves or for a large organization, as long as we feel challenged, purposeful, and valued.
May something wonderful happen to you today,
Thinking about doing the Workshop At Home?
(Below is an email from a Workshop At Home participant I received on Monday.)
I am just finishing up with the Business With Intention workshop and I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how much I loved it!
I don’t have my own business at the moment but it’s something that I’m interested in pursuing in the future. I graduated from college two years and I have been re-assessing what I’m doing with my life career-wise and just watching this videos and looking through the workbook have helped me progress in my journey of figuring out where I want to take my life and career. In particular, I was a huge fan of the purpose equation. It’s so applicable to everything, from designing a business to life.
Thank you for an awesome experience.
– Deshika Wickramasinghe
I believe that websites are your business home on the web, and I want to help you build the perfect one for you! Whether you’re organically simple, boldly classic, or timelessly current, we’ll work together to build the perfect site for you and fill it with beautiful things.
Linda Misiura, Ruby Red Design Studio