When I was growing up, and whilst at high school, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I did really like sports and thought I might do something sporty, but career counselling back then basically involved providing you with a bunch of pamphlets on anything remotely in your realm (in my case becoming a PE teacher or personal trainer) and having a brief discussion about the career paths that were available to you post-tertiary studies. So basically, how to go to University and get a job.
There was certainly no discussion around the concept of being an entrepreneur, and though its taken me half my life to realise it – that’s what I now know I have always been.
I’ve started 5 businesses and sold 2.
The first one I sold was a newspaper which I started when I was at school at age 17 and sold after its first issue to an American entrepreneur. The second was an online teeshirt business called tikangatees.co.nz which I ran from internet cafes around the world from 2002 to 2006. When I got bored, yet knew it had more potential to go, I decided to sell it, which I did for a five figure sum.
Many people have pointed out to me that being an entrepreneur was once frowned upon. Sayings such as ‘fly by nighters’ and ‘con artists’ are often associated with the ‘entrepreneur’ of yesteryear. These days however, the proposition of being an entrepreneur has become a whole lot more attractive. After all you call the shots. You have an unlimited earnings potential. You can work from anywhere (provided you establish your business in the cloud). You can work around the kids. You can do what you want, how you want and when you want. And it is indeed all those things. And I love it.
But it can also be a lonely existence. And a whole lot of late nights and hard work.
You need to come up with ideas, get them off the ground with next to no money, and perform every function of the business until your business is at a level where you have the benefit of starting to either sub-contract or hire people to assist you with the tasks you least like and don’t have the skills to perform and drive your business forward.
You can be creative about how you get help in the beginning. I did. I used interns from the local university, placed a page on our website saying that we accepted work experience students, and got friends and family to help out too. There is of course outsourcing tasks overseas using one of the many freelancing sites.
But it's a process and it doesn’t all happen overnight like some people would have you believe.
You need to market like crazy, solve problems, be flexible, innovate, play on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses. It’s a game and it’s a journey, not a destination. But hey, so is life.
It would take a long time to change a culture of going to University and going out and getting a job to leaving school and starting your own business. But I do think it’s possible and I do think fostering entrepreneurialism at school level would make a dramatic impact on our economy.
Just imagine if we had a population of people who could think for themselves, solve problems, innovate, create something from nothing and generate more income to support the ageing population which will only become more of a problem as time goes on. Industries are changing at such a rate, in many ways our schooling system is pretty flawed.
By the time we create a curriculum to teach something, it’s probably already out of date information. The jobs we are preparing our children for won’t necessarily be there when they are ready to work. So let’s rethink the whole approach. And encourage our kids to become entrepreneurs instead.
Do you think becoming an entrepreneur is a career that should be encouraged in schools? Or that we should encourage our kids to pursue.
Do you think becoming an entrepreneur is a career that should be encouraged in schools? Do you work on sideline entrepreneur projects whilst holding down a full time job?
Do you think the term entrepreneur still has negative connotations or is that stigma now gone?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.