Why I Quit Entrepreneurship and Got a Real Job

… and what I learned from the experience.

UPDATE: Please note that this is not intended to be an anti-entrepreneurship manifesto , as some have taken it. I fully support entrepreneurship, my current job with a very small company is entrepreneurial in nature, I have several entrepreneurial projects on the side, and I intend to return to entrepreneurship in the future. These are just some things I learned that you need to think about, to determine if the entrepreneurial path is the right one for you. It is intended to make you aware of things that some people don't think about before they take the leap.

I. Why I Took a Job
It has been more than two years since I left my last full-time corporate position. In that span I've started a small business, written a chapter for a book, taught a few college courses, been paid to blog, and launched a few web projects. I've loved it, but it is time to do something more financially rewarding for awhile.

Several people encouraged me to write, to expand this blog and do some other things but after much thought I realized that I'm not ready for that. I love writing about business, but at the same time I don't just want to write about business, I want to do it. Why? To learn. I'm 29, and even though I don't equate age with knowledge or skill, I know I'm not ready for what I want my future to be. Learning is so much more intense when it has tangible consequences. I can write about what companies should do, and I can be wrong (as I often am) but I don't learn from that the way I learn when I make a mistake such as losing a sale, losing a key employee, botching a presentation, miscalculating a strategic move, etc.

I've had to take a hard look at my long-term goals (start and run an artificial intelligence company) and decide what things I need to do today to get there. Sure, I could start and run my own business just for the sake of running my own business, but that isn't what I want. I want to do something I love.

It's hard to find a job after doing your own thing, but I managed to get several great offers. Four of the five were with very young companies, two pre-funding startups, two older startups with some funding, and a rapidly growing corporate spinoff. I ended up with a young company that does wireless software (bluetooth, WLAN, UWB, etc.) with a focus on embedded platforms. They have asked not to be mentioned on this blog. I only ask that if you know me well enough to know them, please don't blog about it. I'm one of three people on the "business" side, and I get to have a role in defining my tasks and job scope, which is cool. I also get to see lots of great technology that is coming down the road, as our primary customers are companies developing new products.

I still intend to go back to entrepreneurship someday, but honestly, this job has all the fun and excitement plus a steady paycheck, so I don't really feel like I'm in the big company grind. I'm very satisfied with helping drive this company to the next level.

II. What I"ve Learned
Entrepreneurship is difficult. No matter how smart you are, how well you plan, or how hard you work, there is still lots of luck and timing involved. If you ever consider making the jump, here are some things to think about.

Money Matters – Lots of people will say you don't need money to start a business. That's true, for some businesses you don't. But it helps… A LOT! I've met plenty of angels, VCs, and entrepreneurs over the last two years, and I've learned that more than anything else, money gets you a chance to play the startup game. My plan coming out of college was that I would get involved in the local entrepreneurial community while a worked full-time, and impress enough people that I would be picked up on a startup team. In some ways, that happened. I had some nice equity offers, and I do get called by some local people who are looking for help with ideas, new team members, etc. But startups typically don't need business talent. Ummm, wait… actually they usually do need business talent. I should rephrase that as "startups typically don't think they need business talent. Which leads me to my next lesson learned.

Nobody cares that you are smart or knowledgeable (and you need to know if you really are) – Why not? Because everyone thinks they are smart and knowledgeable. Everyone is convinced they are good at business. Everyone thinks they can hire a talented team. Everyone thinks they can sell. Everyone thinks there is something special and different about them that will make them successful. But accurate self-evaluation skills are critical to entrepreneurial success. You have to know what you are good at, what you aren't good at but can learn, and what you will probably never be good at. I think this is a major reason businesses fail.

Think about the intangibles – I will never run a business that regularly deals with the immediate needs of customers past 5pm. Why? Because it's one thing to put in an extra 5 or 6 hours a day when you are playing catchup – it's another to have a 14 hour day dealing with customers. I like long-term projects not immediate customer needs, so that if I stay past 5 it's because I am getting extra work done. If you own a restaurant or some similar business that is open 70 hours a week, you are going to be there 70 hours a week just to complete basic tasks. I never thought of that before.

Short-term thinking can kill your company – One of the things I harp about is how being a public company can tempt you into making short-term decisions at the expense of the long-term (gotta meet those quarterly earnings targets). It's even more true for startups. Sometimes you will accept a customer on which you will barely break even, just to get some money in the bank to meet payroll. All you do is push your problem off another month, in hopes you can find a solution, or that business picks up. It's hard to predict future cash flows, so it's hard to make decisions about where to spend your money. Will a big advertising campaign boost sales to make you profitable, or waste a good chunk of your money? You never know for sure. I think successful entrepreneurs know how to balance short and long term.

Don't max out your credit cards – You hear stories about people starting businesses this way, but I can tell you that I was glad to have plenty of credit once we were up and running. I put a ton of business expenses on my credit cards so as not to take precious cash out of the company.

Know how you make money. Ideas are great, and I'm all for doing cool things, but cash is still king. How do you get cash?

Your estimates are wrong – Yes, even your worst case estimates.

You aren't your own boss – Your customers are way more demanding than any corporate boss could ever be.

Industry contacts are important – I always thought I could just charge into any industry and be successful. But it's hard to get through the door to some customers, so if you have an inside track, it will be a huge benefit. That is one reason people leave their jobs to start something very similar – they already know potential clients. I didn't think about that early enough.

You don't have any free time – If you want to start a business for a certain lifestyle, save your money and buy your way into it. Otherwise, face the fact that it will be a long time before you can step away. I went a 6 month stretch where I had only one day that I didn't go into the office at all. At a corporate job, things can usually wait until tomorrow. At a startup, you are perpetually behind, so they can't.

Attack everything with enthusiasm – I used to be the kind of person that did a great job on things I liked, and did enough to get by on things I didn't like. When you own your own business, you have to do a lot of things you won't like. Learn to attack every task with enthusiasm. I've had to make up games and do other crazy stuff to force myself to tackle boring work. Procrastination is just too easy. If you can learn to knock out the work you don't like, it will make you more disciplined, which will make you more successful.

Acknowledge your mistakes – A startup is no place for silly issues of pride. When you do something wrong, and you will, admit it and fix it. It's much better than riding your decision into bankruptcy. If your team and/or investors have been through a startup before, they won't make a big deal about the mistakes anyway.

Keep your integrity – It's easy to be a good honest person when you have a steady paycheck. It's much more tempting to let it slide when a customer overpays and you need the money for rent. You have to stay honest, as hard as it may be. Honest failure is more noble than dishonest winning.

Deal with the possible consequences – If you fail, what will you do next? Can you deal with starting over? Many employers will pass over your resume because it doesn't fit the template. You may have to go back to your last corporate job. Or, try your luck with small companies – they usually appreciate people that can manage in chaos and wear several hats. Come to terms with what will happen if you fail.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. It probably took just as many years off of my life as if I had taken up smoking instead, but it was a blast. I learned much more than I would have had I done something "normal."

So what should you do if you want to start your own business?
1. Save your money. – If you can't cut back on your living expenses for a year or two to save for your business idea, then you aren't ready to be an entrepreneur. Plenty of company founders go through a period where they can't draw a salary.

2. Save your money, and become a financial partner. – I can't re-iterate this enough. It's easier for money to find ideas than for ideas to find money (although both are somewhat difficult). Become a small owner in a startup at an early stage. You will learn a lot from watching first hand what happens.

3. Start something on the side. – Play around with a small side business. ( There is a new blog all about this.) You can make some mistakes while you still have stable income. And you can test your determination. If you are a person that doesn't want to spend a few more hours working after you just spend a whole day at your regular job, you aren't ready for entrepreneurship.

4. Go it alone. – If you can start without a partner or investor, it will most likely save you some heartache. They will have different goals than you do.

5. Be ready to accept failure. It has a really bad stigma, but the bark is worse than the bite.

6. Make sure you enjoy it. You will spend a lot of time working, so don't do something you hate.

7. Train for it. Jeff Cornwall has written time and time again that entrepreneurs that are educated about entrepreneurship have a higher success rate. I believe it.

And finally, if you ever decide to take the plunge, have a blast and enjoy the ride. The good times will make the bad times worth it.

  • Jay

    Best. Post. Ever.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most!

    But I think you are doomed if you can’t pin down your estimates! You can not say “Expect your estimates to be wrong, even your worst case estimates.” IMHO, you have no business starting a business if you do not have a handle on this!

    I agree having contacts prior to startup is vital! Otherwise, you do not have a clear picture of the total market!

  • I agree Rob. Great post.

    It’s certainly an individual decision but I (for one) would never again “go it alone.” I need other people for “constructive/ creative conflict” and feedback. The value of both far outweighs the irritation of not having all the power.

    But that said you are right that one must choose collaborators carefully. You’d better agree on “the purpose of business” for one thing.

  • Rob,

    Like other commenters, I agree, it’s refreshing to read something this good in the blogosphere, rather than the typical ‘Web 2.0 is so awesome’ crap.

    I agree with your ‘go it alone’ sentiments, for the simple reason that starting a business with your buddies most often ends up hurting the friendship. While there are opportunities to have partners, it should never be two people (partnerships don’t work), yet there should be a majority owner. Someone has to be the end decision maker.

    I do agree with the above comment that while your estimates will need constant revision, the entrepreneur should understand those critical elements in their forecasts which will ultimately dictate profitability. Volume is hard to predict accurately, but if you do a bottom up forecast rather than top down, you should be much closer to reality. I think the saying by some US President that ‘Plans are worthless and planning is invaluable’ is quite appropriate.

    You referenced Jeff Cornwell above, one of his books, “Entrepreneurial Financial Management” is really good to help build real forecasts. I used it in my MBA coursework as part of our Venture Finance class. There are a couple of other good books out there – Guy’s “Art of the Start”, and Christensen’s “Innovator’s Solution”. A nugget from Christensen’s book is that a startup should strive for profitability rather than sales growth.

    My 2 cents…

  • Rob

    To elaborate on the comments of Laurence and Matt, I think the key is not to go into business with friends. It is nice to have help, but how do you feel when your partners make big mistakes? It can kill your friendship. I apply the same rule to finding a good business partner as I would to a marriage partner – find someone you can argue with sometimes and still get along. You have to be honest because there is not time for corporate politics in a startup. Everybody has things that drive them crazy, everybody makes mistakes, all parties involved have to be able to make the past the past and move on. If you take on partners, do your due diligence.

  • Jay

    Yep, partners bad. Friends as partners worse. Partners without a proper partnership agreement in writing worst of all.


  • I identify strongly with almost all of your thoughts. I brought my business to roughly break-even in about 20 months, but with seriously limited resources at end of that period, I chose to get a “day job” to make ends meet.

    It’s rewarding in its own way, because I chose a job that had a more interesting set of pRoblems to solve against one that offered a lot more money, but I’m still planning to continue building my business, even at the expense of a social life.

    Fortunately, my girlfriend is very supportive, even with a few frustratingly late nights around the holidays. Also fortunately, my tech skills are still relevant, since I had an esoteric but almost future-proof specialty to begin with. And my business gives me a very real, concrete customer-focused perspective that every team I talked with before taking my current contract gig saw value in.

  • Thanks for sharing Rob. You made all good observations. Don’t forget about us global entrepreneurs. Best wishes for much success.

    Laurel Delaney

  • Brent

    I agree with just about everything. I made similar mistakes. Not enough money to startup, put too much on the CC, had a friend as a partner (a big no!), etc….I’m now going back to college to get an 2nd degree. Plan to work at a real job for a while. Maybe start a business when I retire…

  • Rob,

    Terrific post.

    I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs over the years, not to mention my own journey. Nowadays, I liken the process of becoming what Drucker might call an effective entrepreneur to having a Formula One race car a day after learning to drive.

    There is earth-shaking horsepower under the hood of those who have the entrepreneurial drive, but it takes an entirely different set of skills than those people in the world typically function with … and those skills need to honed to a very high level for maximum effect. In the meantime, there are spectacular crashes and burns, starts and stops, victories and defeats … and along the journey the power is endlessly refined and harnassed.

    Anyway, a few of the things you wrote about made me think of that. I’m sure you’ll be back on the dark side soon enough. ;-)

    Be well,

  • If your ever tired of blogging you should try selling this blog at http://sitepoint.com/forums/ .

    We will buy it in a snap…

  • Good luck, Rob. And remember that every experience adds to your greater knowledge — I think along the way you have picked up some great insights. And you made an excellent entrepreneur!


  • m3mnoch

    as a self-funded, serial entreprenuer, i feel i can offer up some advice. most of your post is great, but really only applies to high tech.

    during your “thinking about the intangibles” phase, you also need to include an end goal. not for the company, but for you. you don’t want to have to work on it day in and day out. real freedom is about owning businesses, not working for businesses — even your own.

    everyone in the high tech industry gets so wrapped up in being in high tech, they forget most of the world isn’t. step outside. look at businesses not in the industry. from owning a self-service car wash in that brand new, housing sales through the roof part of town to being a local dropshipper for long tail products. hell — even fancy new vending machines.

    these are businesses that don’t take any talent (comparitively) at all to run, but require some foresight to setup. that’s where the end goal comes into play. YOU don’t want to be the one running the day-to-day operations. you’ll need to get a regular, everyday, mundane product (not a service! and not a franchise!) based business. something that doesn’t require general contact with the average consumer. something that the average employee doesn’t need to be brilliant.

    it’s a cash cow, so to speak.

    the brilliance comes in finding non-high tech businesses and applying the high tech mindset to them. because, if it’s one thing i’ve learned, competition in the offline world is goddamn laughable after being an online entrepreneur.

    once you get the business running, you’ll be making a suitable income (if all goes well) and be minimally required. then, you can then spend the majority of your 9-5 day working on your pet projects to change the world.


  • There’s good (but disconfirming) evidence that says “a contract” is not the solution to profitable commercial relationships of any kind.

    And there is also reliable evidence that shows success in business follows a random walk. Therefore an anecdotal case can be made for just about any conclusion.

    Sorry… business is complicated and complex (as you posted earlier). Narrow and inflexible rules are unreliable.

  • Great post. Thanks for sharing your experiences on entrepreneuring.

  • Dan Rocha

    Excellant info!

    I have done numerous micro-businesses, and two full time startups. One was moderately successful, but I sold it to become a consultant, the other failed.

    On the plus side, the knowledge and perspective I’ve gained have been invaluable. My salary and title are better due to my approach–that of a business owner. This really sets you apart from the other employees.

    As for partnerships, in my first startup we had a lot of conflict and I ended up buying him out. Later we became friends again, but it was a painful process to go through. The second time around I learned: be honest and open, and confront issues right away. My business partner and I remained good friends throughout.

  • Robert,

    Wow! You learned well and fast! 29 years old and with these words of wisdom? You must be kidding me! You are wise beyond your years. At 29, I couldn’t even pronounce the word entrepreneur, let alone grasp the meaning. My wife is president of the Sacramento Entrepreneur Academy … I will make sure she sees this and imagine she will introduce it to the current class of 2006. Well said! Good luck!
    Pierre Cutler
    The Sacramento Executive

  • Well I’m 22 and run my own internet startup, and I couldn’t be happier. I make about 3x more than I did in any previous job (not shitty jobs, but defense contractor positions, large design firms, etc.) There’s no pressure, and there’s always the chance that my company could get bought for 8 figures, so that’s what drives me. I’d never go back to the corporate world, no matter how much anybody would pay me.

    It’s all relative. If you have a killer business idea, a great team, and thorough execution, than entrepreneurship is fantastic. Anything less than that though, and I’m sure you’d be stressed.

  • All true and absolutely no guarantees. You could spend years being miserable, busting your butt, and ending up with nothing. This is more common than most people think, and it is worse than going out of business because it keeps you lingering.

    However, if you finally do hit on that magic product, that winner, then just maybe it’s all worth while.

  • “Go it alone” – not fun and certainly very lonely… To the point though, I think the key is to find people that you become friends with due to the existence of the business idea. This way the business itself is the core of your friendship and thus will unite you during both: the moments of struggle and those of success.

  • Great post and exactly where I am at the moment.

    I also have a few good offers and one is from a new company with a new idea. Your post has allowed me to consider that offer a little more as it comes with greater risk (“what if the idea doesn’t catch on?”)

    However, I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing something “on the side”.


  • Excellent. I could relate a lot of it. Cheers!

    Ganesh Bhat

  • WOW, what a great post Rob – best wishes in your new role – given the size of your team, you’re still not far from the ground floor and given your passion & (mad) skills, will pRobably still enjoy the (rewards) of setting the direction … founder or not, it should still be all about the equity.

  • I disagree with the vast majority of this post. While some of these points may have been true in your particular instance they are not relevant broad generalizations for all new ventures. I wrote a detailed post on my blog refuting many of the points on here. The only commenters I agree with are m3mnoch and Mike from 9rules.

    There is a very hard to distinguish line that seperates “entrepreneurs” from successful serial entrepreneurs. Certain traits and viewpoints on entrepreneurship differ greatly between the two groups. “Entrepreneurs” generally are passionate about a particular project and a general field (i.e. writing/blogging, tech start-up) they work hard on their project and if it goes well great, if not they may go back to working a job and may never become an entrepreneur again. Serial entrepreneurs are driven and passionate about entrepreneurship itself. They have a broad perspective and business skillset that sees a world filled with opportunity and resources given significant execution. If their venture fails they will simply start over on a new venture, if the venture succeeds, they will start a new venture again and again.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors!

  • Hey Rob,

    Thanks for your post! I’m not quite running my own business yet, but I’m working on getting there in the next few years. I really appreciate your honesty and advice. A lot of people make building a business sound like it’s nothing, and perhaps to some it is, but from what I’ve seen, it is quite an investment of time and energy, and I’m glad to hear someone open about that and positive at the same time. Good luck with you job. I hope it keeps you growning.


  • Rob

    Ummmm, Dan, did you read the whole post? Maybe you missed this part.

    Would I do it again? Absolutely. It pRobably took just as many years off of my life as if I had taken up smoking instead, but it was a blast. I learned much more than I would have had I done something “normal.”

    The points you rebut on your blog aren’t really relevant. For instance, I say you aren’t your own boss and on your blog you say I’d rather have 1,000 demanding customers than one boss who can fire me for showing up to work 15 minutes late one day. That really isn’t very helpful to someone looking to become an entrepreneur. All you have done is describe your personal preference. Most people don’t work for bosses that would fire them for something so silly. What I was trying to convey to potential entrepreneurs is that they may be choosing that path because they think they will “be their own boss,” and they don’t realize they will have 1,000 demanding customers that will be just like having a boss.

    I apprecitate your comments, and don’t mind you disagreeing. But I think if you re-read the post you will realize it isn’t anti-entrepreneurship.

  • I have re read your post multiple times and put a lot of thought into my reply. I know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs who have been using your post as a sort of anti-entrepreneur manifesto…so regardless of your intent unfortunately that is what it has become very quickly. Your post has a lot of points both for and against entrepreneurship, I obviously chose only to delve into the points againt entrepreneurship. I think it is a great document and there is a lot in it to think about, perhaps some people are reading it the wrong way.

  • Dear Dan,
    Please tell us about your relevant experience and exactly what qualifies you to conclude:

    “There is a very hard to distinguish line that seperates “entrepreneurs” from successful serial entrepreneurs. Certain traits and viewpoints on entrepreneurship differ greatly between the two groups.” Do you have a scientific study of the two? Who was studied? Who did the study? I read on your blog that you are a student at Babson. Was this in your coursework?

    Where did you read, who told you, or how did you conclude, “They [what you call serial entrepreneurs] have a broad perspective [whatever that means] and business skillset that sees a world filled with opportunity and resources given significant execution [huh?].” Did you ask for some specifics and test this conclusion?

    That’s great that you “agree” with m3mnoch. I suggest you copy his comments for your classmates for discussion. Specifically suggest they read his statement “these are businesses that don’t take any talent (comparitively) at all to run…”

    I’ve been interviewing entrepreneurs and observing them work firsthand for twenty years. I’ve yet to find a real business that didn’t take great talents to run. You should ask your professors.

  • Rob, it’s funny that you posted this because I just posted a column entitled “There’s no money in a paycheck” that lists all the reasons NOT to go work for the man!


    Your post reminds me of my friends who left for Hollywood 10 years ago and are still trying to get their big break. No one ever talks about them! All you ever hear about is the people that made it big and are huge stars. The reality is that most companies (and actors) never get where they want to be, at least not the first time. But the ones that stick it out often make it happen.

    Plus, you’re 29. I’m sure you realize you’ve got plenty of years and plenty of opportunities to do the “entrepreneur thing” again and again.

    And last – why does working a full time job mean you can’t be an entrepreneur? There’s at least 80 good hours to work in every week ;)

  • Great question Wil (“And last – why does working a full time job mean you can’t be an entrepreneur?”)

    If you read the original breakthrough thinking on what an entrepreneur is (google JB Say) you’ll see there’s no reason. And I’ll bet Rob is doing entrepreneurial work right now at his new position.

  • Rob

    I still consider myself an entrepreneur. I work for a startup in which I have stock options. I also have side business projects that I hope to turn into more than they are. I’m not complaining. I didn’t have a bad experience. My partner simply bought me out when I realized I didn’t want to be in that particular business any more. I didn’t lose my shirt, but I didn’t clean up either. I was in a position to not have to rush to find another job, so I took my time and figured out what I wanted to do.

    My goal is not to discourage anyone. But if you have started a company, you know it isn’t for most people. It takes energy, flexibility, and discipline beyond what most people have. The misperception out there is that it’s easy money. People think they will start their own business and they will cruise to riches. All I want them to understand is that it isn’t like that. All you do is trade one set of pRoblems for another. If the new set up pRoblems is more palatable, you should be an entrepreneur. If they aren’t, you should stick with a day job.

  • Rob, I’ve done 9 startups, and some of them go BIG, and most of them don’t. The trick is to keep your feet moving, which you certainly are.

    What’s really cool, though, about your first (or second) experience is that you don’t have to go through it again. I mean you basically know the next time what not to do, and that’s invaluable.

    I’ve found in my last couple startups (Swapalease.com and GoBIGnetwork.com) we have done things in half the time we did at the previous startups. Over time you tend to find that you can whip through the startup stage in no time and just get right to the “grow the hell out of it stage”.

    I bet at your next startup (the one you just joined) you’re going to kick ass quickly. And if you ever go back to working for the big corporate machine (which I would hope you never do!) you’re going to run circles around people with twice the years of experience you have.

    It’s like you got your MBA 5x over.

  • Great article. I started my business a year ago and am bootstrapping through the product development phase by doing consulting work. Your point about the balance between short-term and long-term planning rings very true in this situation as I have to find the balance that a) lets me pay the bills and b) lets me also spend time developing my product that will hopefully generate a decent revenue in the long term.

    After a few tough months, a friend asked me the other day whether it is still fun. I could answer yes without even hesitating. I think that this is pRobably one of the most important yardsticks for the entrepreneur. It can be tough, scary, demanding and a hell of a ride, but as long as it still makes you want to get out of bed in the morning then it’s worth pushing forward to try and make it happen.

  • Chris Thomas

    Good Post!

    I think it speaks much the same for most endeavours in life itself. Be as prepared as you can be and maybe you will hit your target dead-on rather than going in blind as a bat with no hope. Learn as much as you need to, to feel ready about doing anything (and if you never feel ready then never do it) including business/entreprenuerial projects.


  • Mic

    Excellent post. Thanks for writing it! Totally agree with a lot of what you mentioned here.

    I originally started a side business in the hope of one day being able to do it full time and quit my regular day job. But more and more I’m beginning to think that it’s actually quite nice having the best of both worlds.

    Are you still going to have a side business when you start your new job? Also, what is your side business anyway?

    Thanks again!

  • K

    Good for you for posting the negatives.
    I’m tired about all the rah, rah, rah re: entrepreneurship.
    As an entrepreneur myself, I know that it’s a lot of damn hard work and sacrifice and yes, failure.
    If you have to get talked into it, ya ain’t going to stand a chance of being successful.
    So let it all hang out. It’ll separate the women from the girls.

  • Nisha

    Hi Rob

    What is most striking in your post is the admission that success has to do with timing and luck but I would like to also add – AGE. Someone who is just out of school or has had a couple of years experience in one function in one industry with one or maybe two/three companies is bound to find it harder to be the strategic decision making authority with the ability to see long distance. Or to have the patience it takes to get somewhere or the financial management skills. The cash flow situation has to be planned out and not for the worst scenario with the business running but one with no business at all, if you dont want to continuously be anxious about tomorrow. A security blanket is a must.

  • I just try and make partners with people whom I have never met before!

  • m3mnoch

    laurence. before bashing, you may actually want to take some time and understand what it is you are bashing.

    comparative talent to run (NOTE: NOT START!) and work for an offline business if microscopic compared to online. the reason is the disproporionate distribution of fast-moving, intellectual powerhouses online.

    if you want to call the guy who runs (not started or even necessarily owns) the mid-sized, successful vending machine service in your town just as talented as some of the mid-sized, successful online entreprenuers? go right ahead. we’ll all laugh right along side of you.

    by your reasoning, every business making a buck takes great talent. i’m not necessarily disagreeing with that. i’m just saying it takes GREATER talent to run an online business.

    ergo, the use of the adverb “comparatively.”

    there’s a reason they call it “internet speed” and not “brick-and-mortar speed.” speed and agility are key. you even say that yourself.

    it’s a numbers game. numbers and low hanging fruit.

    maybe it’s not as fun as online, but, if you have 3 or 4 small, successful offline businesses that you own (not operate) then, you can do all the online bootstrapping you feel like you need without fear of repercussions or your family starving.

    tho, you’ll have to pardon my jaded opinion of someone who has written a couple of books with such innovative “me too!” pearls of wisdom like “it’s what you do, not what you say” or “being a fast agile company is better than being slow.”

    i’d like to say i’m sorry about that 214,665 amazon sales rank — but, i’m not.


  • Excellent Article! I’m in the process of starting my own web business/freelance and am maintaining a blog over at http://www.realmoneywebdesign.com

    A major difference is that I’m keeping a running total of HOW MUCH $ I earn freelancing in 2006.

  • mark strek

    Sounds more like someone who failed as a businessman and has spent a great deal of time trying to justify his failures. You should be a corporate drone; it’s where you belong. Enjoy your cubicle life…MS

  • tramky

    It seems amazing that anyone can make any money in the online business because there are so many people doing it. A lot of people who have lost or quit IT & Web design jobs go into starting their own online business; there’s a zillion of them out there. There are more of them than there are Starbucks shops!

    And by the way, running an online business requires skills. Running a successful online business requires skills and talent, and there is a difference.

  • Tramky

    Someone else wrote regarding what he learned about entrepreneurship: You aren’t your own boss – Your customers are way more demanding than any corporate boss could ever be.

    I don’t know where this guy has worked, but in my view that is categorically untrue. I’ve had enough hours and weekends and stultifying commentary & demands from corporate managers to last a lifetime. Perhaps I’ve been in the wrong companies, but my experience has discovered untold numbers of arrogant schmuck managers who will run you through the mill because they think they can and they want to. Compared to these stupid dirtbags, my worst customers are pussycats.

  • Specially difficulttoself-evaluate.
    At the end of the day, how much you can earn is a good measure of how smart you are money-wise business-wise. Ok… there is always the luck element but if you are smart, you´ll make it. Ciao ciao

  • There are more of them than there are Starbucks shops! And by the way, running an online business requires skills. Or to have the patience it takes to get somewhere or the financial management skills.

  • I’m a bit behind (read the article on January 2007), but it was, nonetheless, a very interesting read!

    Currently, I’m reading Peter Drucker’s book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” and did it change my understanding on what entrepreneurship “is” (which doesn’t say much, being that I’m only 20 years old). In any case, I found that many of Drucker’s principles were closely related to your observations and experiences.

  • i

    An excellent article. I’m an year old entrepreneur and the quit word is humming in my head. Reason: too much of personal debt. So I agree very much with you when you say that one needs to save. I had just like to add to it: save sufficiently. almost two years of not being in job and personal EMIs have wiped off my savings. Now I’m left with a company which is on the verge of take off but I’m having to call it quits.

  • Jon

    I know I’m late in reading this – but it’s all true. I learned and went through the same exact thing. I am now working in the corporate world, but I still have plans to work for myself again sometime in the future. Great post!