Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Do I Want to Be an Entrepreneur?

Even though it's early, I have been starting to think about what I want to do when I graduate. Teaching is high up there if I can find a good local job doing it, but I have also been toying with the idea of starting something of my own.  But, at this point, I can't quite figure out if I actually want to be an entrepreneur.

Lemonade, anyone?

Pros: I would be able to combine all of my current passions in a creative way: teaching, outreach, and educational games.  There are several areas of opportunity, from consulting to application development.

Cons: Entrepreneurship takes a lot of time! From what I can see you have to be willing to put in many, many hours, and our lifestyle has been more about balance than working much more than a regular work week.  Plus, there's that whole having a baby thing to throw into the mix.

Just for fun I took this Entrepreneurialist Culture Quotient Test that I found through a friend.  I scored somewhere in between being suited for a regular job and entrepreneurialism - perhaps, it suggested, I should consider a partner.  Hmm...

The pros, cons, and good characteristics to have (written by the same person as the test above) don't seem to make the picture any clearer.  There are as many things that excite me as scare me on these lists.

Luckily, I don't have to decide yet.  Over the next little while, I'm trying to make use of some of the great resources friends have shared to learn more and more about the possibilities.  Before I'm done my PhD I'd like to take advantage of a program like Lead to Win, or perhaps a less "actually start a business when you're done" version of it.  Maybe some business idea competitions (like the Nicol Challenge I participated in this year) would be a good place to test the waters.

Anyway, here are some of the resources I have found so far.  If you have any others, or any advice you can give me, please do share in the comments!


Pete Welter said...

As someone who has done the software startup thing (successfully even), a few short comments.

I can highly recommend the book "Anything You Want" by Derek Sivers ( http://sivers.org/a ) - it's short, and an hour well spent, and may address some of your reservations.

As far as the number of hours is concerned, because it's your business you get to make the rules and you set the goals. If you want to start a company and grow it quickly, then yes, you may be all-in time-wise. However, there is another equally valid model which is to make it a business that fits into your life - it might not even be a full-time business so you can try other projects on the side.

If you are someone who does best working inside constraints set by others (and there's nothing wrong with that - we all work differently), then entrepreneurship may not be a good choice. However, if you are flexible and willing to modify what you do to meet whatever your particular customers need, and if you can provide your own direction, then entrepreneurship can be a great experience.

Gail Carmichael said...

Thanks for the advice - much appreciated!

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