The Problem With Being an Entrepreneur

The Problem With Being an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur isn’t really all its cracked up to be. This is caused by an inherently different view on the outside world. That sometimes rubs up against the norm.

The Way the World Appears

Entrepreneur’s look at the world much differently than the many. This has come up in most of the conversations I had on Friday. One insight I thought was a brilliant example.

While sat in the queue at Tesco’s the checkout girl processes the items across the scanner, but one item won’t scan, so she pops her light on and someone fetches her another. However instead of putting the item with the duff barcode in the customers shopping, the item ends up going back to the shelf.

Sometimes ignorance is utterly bliss (on the part of the checkout staff), but to the entrepreneur it’s a “scream” in their head, that person stood in the queue observing realises, that within a short period of time the same faulty item will be back in circulation and will cause exactly the same issue, but on a different till.

Most of the UK’s petrol stations are a failure.

Is it always an after thought that you cannot fit a car between two parked cars so that you can reach the unused last pump or was the creation of dual sided pumps “enough”?

Hammered to be a Good Employee

Those years you spent at school, was in a system to create employees, not entrepreneurial people. We’ve been hammered to be “good employees”.

That’s what happened when children started school and not working in the cotton mills or down mines. The motivation was not because of the poor conditions they had to endure, it was because the cotton mill & mine owners, realised that having educated workers meant less hassle and higher production rates.

Note: My history sucks, this is my interpretation of the change.

Entrepreneurs are Rarely Good Employees

Talking from my personal experience here, I did the 9-5 day-job after spending 4 extra years at Uni (short for just about qualifying, chatting up women and drinking too much).

The first proper job I held was the true 9-5. Even then I had worked out numerous ways of making my day less tedious, scripted actions to auto assign engineers to jobs and implemented front line support in the International welcome centre off-the-back-of the line of thought:

“Why should I send one of my guys out, if I can fix it over the phone?”.

A year or so in, I was bored & frustrated, so talked my way into looking after the Rolls-Royce contact in Bristol for the same company, 6 months into that I had got restless again. I had covered so much ground (repairing relationships & machines that the previous good employee had destroyed), I quickly worked out I could filter all calls remotely, while achieving the same, far superior results and promptly started an eCommerce business and left shortly afterwards.

Two software companies, one odd diamonds experience & a business later, the same came true. Entrepreneurs cannot help themselves to look at the world differently.

I saw a tweet pass my desk on Friday from Doug Richards here:

Question: “Can entrepreneurship really be taught?” YES!!!

Corporates try to emulate entrepreneurship through processes, masturbation, sorry I mean ‘meetings’ & diversification. The reality is, that many of these fail. I’m currently reading “On Competition” by Michael Porter (aff link), in a study of 33 companies from 1950 to 1986, they attempted 3788 diversification attempts and managed a ~74% failure (divested) rate. It rarely works and these businesses included names like 3M, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Xerox and Sara Lee.

So the Problem with Being an Entrepreneur?

Is that entrepreneur’s, just see the world differently. This causes problems. Some are good, some are bad. I could add countless famous names here that have had probably more bad problems and the good problems you know them for. Wins, losses, successes & failures, it’s all the same, its the results of someone looking at the world differently.

So I’m leaving you with this… That screen you’re using to read this on, 100% invented by a collection of people that looked at the world differently. Grab a mirror, does that person also look at the world differently too?

Image source

7 replies
  1. Dave Furness
    Dave Furness says:

    A fantastic article Matt as always but the reason I like this one is I can relate to it, I have been working for others as an employee for a few years now, and I have felt the need to start dipping my toe into the world of entrepreneurship due to the differences between my way of thinking and the majority of other people’s. I worked in the supermarket environment for a year whilst at college. I couldnt understand how some employees were happy to work there and had done so for 20+ years in some cases.

    I think what sets the entrepreneurs apart from the rest is the willingness to take risks, step out of the safety net and try and acheive what many would condemn to fail without trying.

    Here’s to the entrepreneurs as without them the world would be a much duller place.


    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Dave,

      I had to hit the publish button on this early.

      Yep, did the same too, 4 years in the local co-op was great fun (and paid for a lot of beer) however there was no way I was staying there, some of the girls had done 20 years and even with offers of a store managers role, just couldn’t face it. Although ironically I did do the 9-5 for quite a while afterwards.

      I read recently (have tried to find the link, but failed), “that to not even try, is failure in its purest form”.

      Definitely a brighter place with these entrepreneurial folk :)



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