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Am I an entrepreneur?

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Am I an entrepreneur?

And I don’t mean like how most of the world these days considers themselves to be an entrepreneur.

I don’t mean do I include “entrepreneurially-minded” on my resume or do I daydream about starting the next Instagram in hopes to be acquired for a couple billion dollars down the road?

I mean, is “being an entrepreneur” in my blood? I think it is.

I should have seen all the signs:

I work a full-time job. And when I got my first job out of college, I was happy.

Heck, I’m happy now.

But when I first started, I thought everyone was the same as me at the time: working a full-time job only because they couldn’t figure out the finances, the timing, or a decent business model to keep them afloat without a job.

“Surely,” I thought to myself, “these guys would leave this place if they had a business that sustained them.”

But I’m realizing I was wrong.

Not everyone wants to “get out.” Not everyone aims for freedom in their work. Not everyone is an entrepreneur.

Some people are perfectly content to climb a ladder for climbing’s sake – some even wear it as a badge of honor.

You know the type: when you talk to them in casual conversation, they can’t help but brag about how well their job is going, how they get to be involved in work “above their paygrade,” how they’re “busy, busy, busy.”

I admit it: I’ve said stuff like that too. But I always say it with this inner voice that won’t leave me alone….

“You don’t have to be constantly busy,” it tells me.

“You’re climbing a ladder leaned against the wrong wall,” it says.

And I’m listening.

Bit by bit, it nags at me. It’ll eventually wear me down entirely and what, for now, is a very successful side-venture will one day become my full-time (less-than-full-time-hours) job.

And I think that’s what makes you an entrepreneur: that little nagging voice. The one you can’t silence or ignore no matter how hard you try.

Eventually, if you’re really an entrepreneur, you have to let that voice win.

Because not everyone has that voice nagging them all day every day.

It’s a gift. And when you’ve been given a gift, you don’t ignore it. You embrace it.

So the answer to my question, “am I an entrepreneur?” Yes. I am.

What about you?

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Written by Preston Lee

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Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more.

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  1. Preston, you’ve just described my life.

    I have ALWAYS been an entrepreneur, surrounded by 9-5 people who don’t have the ambition for their own businesses. But I only realised this after I landed my first design job and saw other hugely talented people NOT trying to work for themselves, or doing it only if their 9-5 let them even though they totally had potential to do it full time.

    Even now, 6 years later I spoke with a colleague who is a writer and she said she stopped freelancing work she really enjoyed for writing boring product descriptions (up to 100 a day), because her employer didn’t like she didn’t work overtime because she worked as a freelancer. So she stopped. WHAT?! I would fire that employer straight away and go full time!

    I don’t get it AT ALL.

    I lost my job I wasn’t happy in and it only reassured me I should NOT be afraid to start working on my own because my only fear against it – job security – doesn’t exist. In a months time I didn’t have a job and didn’t have ANY control over it, couldn’t anticipate it, prevent it, nothing. That never happens in a business, I’m sure I’d be able to see problems before they bring results and do something about them, because I’M IN CONTROL.
    Many times my designs brought huge revenue (I worked in ecommerce) and my boss was getting richer while I was getting peanuts. Surely I can earn much more working for myself.

    So even though I have found a new job I am working on my own business and will launch my website this weekend (!). My design studio will be open for business! I’m leaving my job soon: ready, or not. I will make it work, I have always been an entrepreneur and all my friends and family don’t understand how come I do not have a business yet.

    Thanks for that. Sorry for a lengthy comment!

  2. This pretty much describes me. I ended up living in my car, at the start of winter because not only did that voice win, but It took over so much that I would rather live on a jar of peanut butter and have the time to focus on building my company than work a regular job.

    I’m enjoying the blog so far. I’m still in the process of becoming a freelance developer, and just found this blog today.

    1. John I admire you!

      I’m also at the point where I would rather eat bread with mustard all month but have time to focus on my business and finally become FREE than stay at my job and do office small talk all day. I can’t stand it!

      This voice has become way to loud to ignore it.

      Why would we?

      I need a freelance developer to collaborate with, drop me a line, would you?

  3. Wow, that describes pretty much the things I came to realize during the past two months (the period of time when I shifted from a partial time job -I’m still an undergrad- towards full time freelance).

    I used to work in a -now typical- graphics + software agency, and I’m amazed at the fact that despite the big amount of oportunities to become a successfull full time freelancer or even to create another agency, I was the only one to go outside and put all my effort to make it work on my own.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @lualps:disqus: glad the article resonated with you. It’s baffling isn’t it: to realize not everyone thinks the same way?

  4. Jordi Querol says:

    What a wonderful blog post.

    I’m just starting blogging myself and I’m always thinking of teaching something or giving something away… And then there’s the word count, and the links, and the keywords… But sometimes people need to read posts like this.

    It’s refreshing and almost poetic to those of us who are entrepreneurs too.

    Once, someone told me that if you don’t make a change in your life, if for example you’re struggling with your job but you haven’t quit to start your own thing, it’s just because “it doesn’t hurt enough yet”.

    I think that, to really become an entrepreneur, you have to feed that nagging voice everyday, until it becomes so loud you can’t hear anything else.

    As always, love your work, Preston! Keep it up 🙂

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @jordiquerol:disqus, wow. Thank you so much. I’m glad the piece connected with you. I love the second to last line above. You have to feed that voice! Thanks for the kind words and vote of confidence!

  5. Really enjoyed reading this Preston. I actually just read it aloud to my partner because I enjoyed it so much!
    I particularly like your phrase “You’re climbing a ladder leaned against the wrong wall.” – that really resonated with me.
    I still find it amazing that other people are happy working the employed life. Like you I’ve always had that nagging voice and it is strange to me that others don’t feel this!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @annac42:disqus: I’m glad this made sense and resonated for you as well. Keep feeding that voice! 🙂

  6. That is a new way of thinking about it that I have never considered. Very well written and insightful article. Like you I really never considered that other people didn’t have that same feeling I think in part because I surround myself with people that all want to own their own businesses or that do stuff on the side.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      I appreciate the kind feedback. Glad you enjoyed the post. That’s the best way to keep an entrepreneurial mindset: surround yourself with people that also have it. Cheers.