Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Why isn't satisfaction enough?

There's nothing wrong with being employed. There's nothing wrong with being employed all your life. Not all of us are cut out to be entrepreneurs, and many of us will never be good at it. Think, even when you start your fancy startup, you will need employees, won't you? This nonsense that a salary is an addiction, or that you can never get wealthy from a salary is that - nonsensical. The key is to find something you're good at, be the best at it (in the world if possible), and find someone to pay you for it.Wallace Kantai, What You Need to Remember when the Deal is Too Good, Unquiet African
Entrepreneurship is not an impossible activity to engage in. Being an entrepreneur is not something that cannot be learned. Success or failure as an entrepreneur is down to many factors: preparation, intelligence, popularity, dedication, attention to detail, luck. But as Mr Kantai says, it is not for everyone and it is not the only ingredient to success in life, wealth or comfort.

Many of us love what we do. Many of us enjoy working for the bosses we work for. Many of us can't be bothered to deal with the details of what it takes to run a business enterprise: licenses and permits, taxes and tax returns (is there anyone who loves doing the paperwork, online or not, for the revenue authorities?), hospital insurance and social security, public health and occupational safety and health, workmen injury benefits, and the like. We love the idea of a more or less steady pay-cheque at the end of the month, the predictability of a workday, the comfort of picking and choosing simple things like vacation days or investment strategies (such as may be allowed by a salary).

Many people, especially many men who have lied and cheated their way to financial success, believe that entrepreneurship is a panacea to widespread youth unemployment and other social ills. They extol the virtues of "bootstrapping" and "perseverance", hard work and dedication, attention to detail and the magic of a blockbuster surefire "idea" that no one else has.

But even when we have an idea, few of us usually want to make the commercialisation of that idea the centre of our working lives. It's why you'll find that even in the US, many of those who file patent applications tend to do so with the intention of selling the patent to a billion-dollar corporation for dollops of dollars. If I had an innovation that could make my chosen field more efficient and effective and if I could obtain a patent for it, perhaps I would also be tempted to sell it for billions as opposed to borrowing and spending millions to bring it to market.

Of course, there are entrepreneurs we admire or envy. But our admiration isn't always enough to push us out of our comfort zones to engage in the kind of mania that leads sane men to make wild bets with incredible payoffs. We admire their technical and professional skills, emulate some of their personal habits and listen with interest to their pearls of wisdom. But we also know that we are not them. We have our own uniqueness even as we part of the drones in employment. And so long as we are satisfied with what we have, happy to have the creature comforts we enjoy, life offers us more than we can deal with and we wouldn't want to change things. We're not just built to be Gordon Gekko's killers.

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