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Entrepreneurship used to be a fairly predictable story. Someone with an idea invents a new product or service, sells it to a lot of people, makes millions of dollars, and passes an empire down to their children. Think of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, C.J. Walker, and J.P. Morgan.
Just like everything does, eventually—entrepreneurship has changed.
People from all walks of life have looked at the benefits of being an entrepreneur and decided to venture out on their own. And as more and more people became business owners, the idea of what entrepreneurship means has continued to evolve. Today, the path to entrepreneurship means something totally different to every person who walks it.
An entrepreneur might be someone like Mark Zuckerburg or Elon Musk, with a huge business empire created from nothing.
But an entrepreneur could also be someone working for themselves in their basement office or out of the back of an RV as they criss-cross the country. It could be a teenager pulling pranks on TikTok, or a little kid singing Disney songs on YouTube.
It could be you!
The number of entrepreneurs has risen drastically in the last few decades, with a particular jump coming on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 alone, there was a 24% jump in the amount of new business paperwork filed.
The number has remained higher than pre-pandemic conditions in the two years since. People see the benefits of being an entrepreneur, relying only on themselves and making space in their lives for other things like family, hobbies, travel, or whatever holds their passion.
Odds are, you have thought about starting a business, or you wouldn’t be reading an article about the benefits of being an entrepreneur. But how do you know if running your own business is really worth it?
Let’s talk through the top benefits of being an entrepreneur, and a few of the drawbacks, as well, so you can get a sense of whether or not you are ready to take that leap.
6 Benefits of being an entrepreneur
There are a lot of cliches surrounding entrepreneurial life, some good, some not so great. It is easy to see entrepreneurs as a caricature, a body of people who get up at 4am and read countless business books while they are networking and sending emails on a flight to some exotic locale.
This isn’t particularly helpful. (And, if you are a decidedly non-morning person, like me, not particularly inspiring.)
Instead, let’s review some real benefits of being an entrepreneur, and what that might look like for different people.
1. You play by your own rules
One of the most often-touted benefits of being an entrepreneur is the ability to “be your own boss.” For some people, working according to someone else’s strategy is grating. Sitting in a cubicle, having to ask permission to take vacations or even to stay home sick is frustrating.
As an entrepreneur, you are in charge. You determine where to put your resources, how to shape the culture of your company, who to hire, or, if you’re on your own, you make choices about how much (or how little) to grow. All of this can be incredibly freeing.
2. Earning potential is unlimited
When you are working a typical 9-5 kind of job, you go in at a set salary, and, while there may be cost of living raises and opportunities for promotion, there is a definite ceiling to how much you can earn.
In contrast, one of the most important benefits of being an entrepreneur is that your growth is unlimited. If you want to earn more money, you can change up your strategy, add to your offerings, expand, or do any number of things to push your business in a new direction. The most successful entrepreneurs are billionaires. That goal is dangling out there as a possibility for everyone who starts a business.
3. Flexibility…to a point
Another of the benefits of being an entrepreneur that seems to be endlessly talked about is flexibility. When you are in charge of your own job, you do have a lot more options when it comes to when, how and where you work. If you want to jet off to an exotic place and work by the pool, no one will stop you. If you need to leave early to attend an event at your child’s school, that is up to you. There is so much value in that kind of flexibility!
I think it is important to set realistic expectations about this. Sure, you can have a flexible life as an entrepreneur. But remember that, as the leader of your business, you are responsible for the success or failure. This means that it’s not always an option to leave or pass tasks on to someone else.
Every entrepreneur I know or have interviewed has talked about how much work it takes to get a business going, and the stress it causes in the early days.
As you build and structure your business, keep in mind the lifestyle you are working towards, and surround yourself with the kind of team who will help you get there.
4. You can follow your passion
One of the most exciting benefits of being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to work on what you love. Sure, some jobs are very rewarding and you may already be working on what you are interested in, but for many employees, work is more about collecting a paycheck.
When you find an idea that you can’t stop thinking about, and you are willing to put in long hours, real resources, and dedicate your life to it, it is exciting! Turning that into a business means you can do something you love every day of your life.
5. You’re always learning
I truly believe one of the most underrated benefits of being an entrepreneur is the chance to learn new skills, meet new people, and constantly learn new things.
You may have heard the phrase, “entrepreneurs wear many hats.” Particularly in the beginnings of a new business, or in very small businesses, this is definitely true. You can surround yourself with experts, but you will naturally be involved in more roles than you would be as a traditional employee.
You will learn traditional business tasks like finance, bookkeeping, product design, and marketing. You might also learn totally off-the-wall things you never expected to be part of being a business owner, like how artificial intelligence works, corporate learning models, environmental challenges and more.
Whatever you are interested in, you can invest more time in, and the subjects that just aren’t your thing can be outsourced.
6. You’re in a position to help
As a business owner, you have the opportunity to influence other lives. You might provide jobs to other people, rent office space in an underserved neighborhood, sponsor a little league team, join the Chamber of Commerce, send workers out to volunteer, adopt green policies, start a mentorship program, or invest in your community in any number of ways.
Best of all, you can be the business you always hoped to work for. Whether it is just you, or an office of hundreds of employees, you can create the culture you’d like to see and be an example to others of how work could be better for everyone.
Why entrepreneurship may not be for you
There is no question that there are a lot of benefits of being an entrepreneur.
That said, there are some drawbacks, as well.
For all of the freedom you earn, you also take on a heavy load of responsibility. For every entrepreneur making millions, there are many more entrepreneurs barely making ends meet. For every entrepreneur driven by passion and excitement, there is a business owner somewhere struggling to stay engaged in their own brand.
People who do well as entrepreneurs tend to be very driven, self-starters and risk takers. They have a strong belief in themselves and their ideas. They have the ability to find great people and get them on board with the vision of the company. They have a growth mindset that helps them overcome setbacks.
Entrepreneurs also need to be willing to fail.
If you are not comfortable talking about your own strengths, selling your ideas, or admitting you don’t have the answers and figuring out who does, the benefits of being an entrepreneur may not outweigh the positives for you.
If you don’t have a backup plan for the people relying on your income and support, entrepreneurship may not be a good fit for you.
If working from home seems unbearably lonely to you, starting a business may not be the best move.
There’s nothing wrong with working a traditional job. Many people find success, wealth and fulfillment along a more traditional path.
Others find it in entrepreneurship.
Are you set out to be an entrepreneur?
As entrepreneurship has changed, so have the benefits of being an entrepreneur. In the past, wealth and notoriety may have been the biggest drivers behind those who started a business.
In more recent times, freedom and the chance to change the world seem to be more motivating. Freelancers, innovators, influencers, empire-builders and icons alike have the chance to reap the benefits of being an entrepreneur, if they are brave enough to take on the challenges.
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