Thirteenth in the series – letters to my kids…
I haven’t sent you some of these in a while, but I have a few of these coming that I hadn’t finished writing yet. I really loved this article for one reason… I work with a lot of entrepreneurs as an investor and find people who should have never gone down the entrepreneurial path to begin with. The big one is the “be your own boss” – building a venture scale business is anything but being your own boss, yet so many conversations around being an entrepreneur are related to being your own boss. If you want to simply be your own boss… go start a one man business, not a venture scale business. Don’t go hire all your friends or anyone for that matter. Go figure out how you can do something that you enjoy well enough to put up with the BS that comes with all work and pays enough that you truly are in control of your future.
Often times people talk about autonomy, or being in control of one’s own actions, as the only thing that really matters to happiness in work. I disagree, you can be very autonomous in corporate life, startup life, and independent life. Being autonomous doesn’t mean that you are doing what you want to do… it just means that you’re in control. To be happy you have to be autonomous within an area that you want to work and be in an environment where the BS is less troublesome than the enjoyment you get from the work itself.
The article references a Q&A that included Ben Horowitz, Ben is a venture capitalist at a16z and before that was running a company called Opsware who purchased a startup here in Seattle that you may remember me working with, iConclude. After that experience, I respected Ben, but only recently have really appreciated his mastery of the hard things really required to build great companies. He talks about how building venture businesses is hard and rewarding in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which if you’re thinking you actually want to be an entrepreneur… I suggest you read.
You’ll never be locked into just working for someone else or just being an entrepreneur. You can dedicate yourself to different things over the years if you truly dedicate yourself to one and find that you’d prefer to do something else. It’s ok to start out as an entrepreneur, become an independent business operator, and then go work with someone else to bring their idea to fruition. So long as you aren’t putting up with more BS than the enjoyment you’re getting from the work, you’ll be able to hang in there and see the work through to the next milestone.