Want to Be An Entrepreneur? Stop Thinking Like An Employee.
I’d annihilated the interview, all four rounds of it —feeling more and more momentum every step of the way. I knew I was a shoe in. The splashy job with the nice salary was all but mine. When the phone rang from the CEO —I knew it was a matter of details, logistics, all that jazz.
And that’s when he told me:
“Tommy, I don’t know how to say this: you’re the best candidate we’ve ever had, and you’re an impressive young man —but we consider you unemployable. In other words, we think you’ll leave us.”
Wait, what the hell just happened? At that moment, I didn’t know how to react. Was this a compliment, or a total diss? As I hung up the phone, I had one of those moments where you realize something is going to be fundamentally different for the rest of your life.
Right there, I knew for the rest of my life I would never work for someone else, that it was up to me to make it happen —and I was 100% responsible. And listen: in an entrepreneurial, do-it-yourself culture —there is nothing wrong working for someone else.
(The biggest secret in the entrepreneurial space is we sometimes dream of being to clock off on Fridays, forget about our businesses and always know exactly what we’re going to get paid.)
Buuuuuut —I’m a firm believer in approaching life entrepreneurially, meaning, taking command and control of You, Inc.
Because everyone is one swift decision away from being left on the street —and no company is loyal to anyone.
(Keep thinking yours is loyal until they don’t impress random strangers, errr shareholders enough —and to maximize earnings they leave you on the street, choosing them over their employees, being escorted out by big Rick from security. You’re welcome for the Christmas bonus, Big Rick.)
Plus, in a changing economy and the way we’re quickly moving towards a remote, freelance, project-based workforce —you can’t not take ownership. Those who wait to adapt will be left behind. Those who take command will have more options, freedom and opportunity.
When I work with those transitioning from being an employee to a full blown business owner —we don’t start from the outside in (marketing, strategy, tactics, sales, etc.) Instead: we start from the inside out. Because often, new entrepreneurs carry a worn-out employee mindset, leaving them stuck in performance, lacking results and wondering why it’s not happening for them.
Let’s dive in.
1. Employees save, entrepreneurs create.
The employee model is about saving because income is relatively fixed —while entrepreneurs create and produce in possibility. This saving mindset is more than simply income: it permeates every decision an employee tends to make. When resources are fixed, you’re more prone to hold on to what you have.
For example: you want to invest $10,000 in your business, or go to Maui for 10 days—the employee mindset will find ways to cut back and create a 9 month plan where an entrepreneur can find ways to create more value in the marketplace and potentially have it tomorrow, a few days from now, or next month.
Because of this mindset, entrepreneurs are able to collapse the time, distance, space and effort between where they are today —and what their goals are.
2. Employees focus on time and effort, entrepreneurs on results.
In a time and effort economy —you’re mostly paid on the fixed inputs of, you guessed it: time and effort. While the benefit here is you typically still get paid regardless of the result, it’s a huge price to pay.
When you transition into an entrepreneurial mindset, you must leave the land of time and effort behind —and operate in a results economy. You get paid for your result, not how long you tried something, or the 7 failures it took you to get there.
For example: it takes an employee 25 hours to complete a project within the organization —but it takes the same entrepreneur 5 hours to do so. Who wins here? Of course, the entrepreneur: they got the result in 5 hours, and now have 20 hours left over to either produce more results, or take time off.
For many of the entrepreneurs I teach and coach —we train their performance in a way where they are lethally focused for 4 hours a day doing the needle-moving, revenue-generating work most avoid. Because of this, they often “clock out” at 2 or 3PM and get to hang with their family the rest of the day.
3. Employees build their lives around their work —entrepreneurs build their work around their lives.
Because the traditional employee model requires 40-50 hours a week at a fixed location (with time and effort) —this takes up their best days and times —while an entrepreneur has the freedom to build a business around their lifestyle and values.
In a results economy, the time when you complete the result doesn’t matter: what matters is the outcome.
For example, the Average American worker is productive 1.8 hours in an 8 hour workday. An entrepreneur can put in 4 lethally focused hours as described above, and be done by 12PM. The employee isn’t driven to do the same, because they’d have another 5 hours left.
4. Employees operate in constraint, entrepreneurs in abundance.
Last, and most importantly —as an employee, no matter how incredible you work for the next 12 months and make the company profit, you’re capped:
Capped in income.
Capped in bonuses.
Capped in performance.
Often —there are limits, there are hierarchies, there are bosses and meetings —and in many cases, it is not a purely performance driven culture. The big issues I see here are:
You can hit a Grand Slam, and your income goes up 5%.
You’re bound to a certain level of performance due to hierarchies.
Public companies value shareholders over employees.It takes decades to accumulate sustainable wealth.
Alternatively —in an entrepreneurial model, you can increase your income 10X year to year if you do it right. There are no caps. There are no bizarre hierarchies where you need to taper down your performance because your boss will be insulted and look bad.
Before You Choose To Be An Entrepreneur, Think Like One
So, is it all sunshine and puppies in the entrepreneurial world? Of course not —with all of these benefits, there are risks. If you don’t get a result with your work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t “feel” like showing up, no one is going to hold you accountable. The challenges will be plenty.
And last: there is nothing wrong with being an employee —if this is in line with your values, you find meaning and some autonomy in your work. But I believe having an employee mindset is the path to average:
Average thinking, average execution, average lifestyle.
But when you have the mindset of a creator, a producer, a problem solver (even within an organization):
You become the leader.
You become the linchpin.
You become the rockstar.
You become the indensable.
Which one of these connected with you? I’d love to hear about it, or if you want to be featured on the Academy podcast —ask a question here!