Entrepreneurship freedom is the essential expression of individual liberty. The word comes from the mid-18 century French term to undertake a project. The etymology of the term is from “entre,” to swim out and “prendes,” to grasp or capture. Visualizing this is to break away and chart your own course. Capturing this entrepreneurship freedom is a privilege, yet there has been a cost for that freedom in the past and there’s still a cost today.
Especially when people ask themselves, “What’s next?” there is a big push for entrepreneurial work. Dreams of launching out to start a business or even a non-profit abound with many at this stage of life. There are multitudes of courses and coaches to help with not only the discovery of next steps but the logistics of setting up an entrepreneurial business. But what does it really take and is that journey for everyone? We answer some of those questions about risk of entrepreneurism with a bit of history and reality that will hopefully help some who are thinking of venturing out to make a thought-out decision.
The History of Entrepreneurship Freedom
Jamestown Colony was planted in 1607 in east Virginia as the first permanent English settlement in North America. Other English settlers landed in 1620 and due to the high cost of the trans-Atlantic voyage, became indentured servants for at least seven years to those who financed their trip. To sum up some of the history, the Pilgrims balked at the agreement and said they’d share their profits but in the end wanted their land they cultivated and houses they built.
During this process, many died and almost starved. They didn’t know how to cultivate the American soil for a different type of corn. The weather and danger from intruders made them depend on each other and they had to figure out fast how to barter and survive. They swam out on the chance they could create a new life in a new country as basically the first entrepreneurs.
Most of all, they wanted to be free from both the King of England and the King of Holland. They knew in order to do this they needed to secure their home and the land it was on. The privilege of owning land goes back to biblical times. When the people of Israel were leaving the bonds of slavery under Pharaoh, God promised them the promised land. Numbers 34:1-12 outlines the boundaries of that land. They had to claim it, build it and protect it. It was all a part of securing their freedom. So even in God’s economy, securing land was important.
Risk One: Emotional Hurdles
There is an emotional hurdle in experiencing life as an entrepreneur. Your hardest sale will be to yourself. You have to believe in the possibility of success. However, there are many who are always getting ready to get ready. If you are working toward entrepreneurship freedom, don’t let this be you. The Pilgrims first had to travel for more than two months on a merchant ship (the Mayflower) with about half of the people dying from the cold and wetness. They then had to put together shelter to brace against the winter. They had vague ideas on how to farm but had to be taught by the Indians what would grow in the new country. If they didn’t figure it out, they would starve. There were so many unknowns traveling to a new land, but the chance to create a new life made the risk of traveling worthwhile.
When venturing out as an entrepreneur, there is a certain freedom one experiences. But there’s also a cost, especially emotionally. Creating a plan that will eventually create a profitable venture with a supportive community and team takes an immense amount of work and emotional energy. Many find themselves out on a limb with no back-up plan to either change course or climb down and escape. The work is constant. Working for oneself is a privilege, but it’s also consuming with a market that changes and evolves constantly. A good base of support for a healthy mindset, habits and support is essential for personal success. (free webinar: Mindsets for a Year of Renewal)
Nature gives us great examples of how to manage our life emotionally. For trees, pruning excess growth and branches is the best way to produce more fruit. It’s an emotional decision to cut a branch that looks beautiful. Especially if it’s bright and healthy-looking. But upon closer examination, it’s weak as a sucker and won’t produce fruit. Cut it off and move on. Ridding ourselves of superfluous projects, programs and distractions helps to create a clean path for a healthy mindset.
Risk Two: Financial Hurdles
Financial commitment is easier with some cushion of savings or the ability to start a side business while still working another job. (Download our free side business template) With a side business, you can set up accounting, prototypes and even write your first book while still gaining a primary income from another source.
When making the decision to cut other avenues of income, whether retiring or quitting, identify the worst-case scenario. This may include making no sales in the first year. How will you survive? This should be in a master plan and it’s a detail often brushed over when the excitement of a new product or a few sales creates momentum. A good strategy at the very start is to identify the low-hanging fruit.
What will people always need? This step is more difficult for the creative artist who would like to spend her time creating. As a working musician for many years, teaching was always the low-hanging fruit for me. It became tedious at times, but it was consistent and provided a lot of freedom to pursue other projects. Even with economic cycles there is also low-hanging fruit readily available.
Risk Three: Products and Production
Sometimes we overestimate our ability to sell either a product or a service. Or we overestimate society’s need for our future product or service. Look to see what’s selling now and if there is a fit for what is truly needed. Then find a uniqueness that will set your business apart from the others. Products become commoditized when they are yet another clone of what is already available. (see article below)
As an entrepreneur, it is important to be pro-active, yet not over-sell to people that don’t need your product. Test the market. Otherwise you could end up with a lot of product sitting in your closet. When starting his financial business, Greg, my husband, read 1,000 pages a week and wrote a financial newsletter. It was a great way for him to establish expertise in a flooded market. He was willing to do the work and found a unique angle to pursue.
We have a tree trimmer we like to use. He should be proactive in calling us every six months, but I call him. It’s an easy sale—we have a lot of trees that need trimming every year. Situations like this makes me step back to evaluate what I’m not doing to create easy sales for my products. Some of the best times to promote are seasonal and that applies to most every business.
Explore the Hurdles with Systems
Creating systems that will help schedule tasks and follow-up is a part-time job in itself but is well-worth it in the long run and I share some of my systems in a course A New Way of Doing Business. Competition creates new hurdles and you have to build new systems. Learn to trust your instincts that you’ve developed through the years built upon your expertise. Most likely, you have the knowledge, skills and expertise to assess risk and even use risk in the right places where your competition is not venturing. To experience entrepreneurship freedom, explore the hurdles. The more equipped you are, the more courageous you can be.
There is an emotional hurdle in experiencing life as an entrepreneur. Your hardest sale will be to yourself.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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