Friday, June 10, 2016

5 Reasons Being an Entrepreneur is Actually HARDER Than Rocket Science!

5 Reasons Being an Entrepreneur is Actually HARDER Than Rocket Science
Whenever someone sets out to do anything in our modern world, it’s almost inevitable that some idiot somewhere pipes in with “It’s not rocket science”. For generations, Rocket Science and Brain Surgery have been the hallmarks for determining if something requires mental acuity, or really, should even be acknowledged as difficult. I think it’s bullshit, and here are five reasons I think my job is tougher than theirs!

Entrepreneurs Don’t Get to Follow Formulas

Sure, being a rocket scientist takes a lot of time, dedication and education. I’m not trying to say it’s easy, because it’s not, but, for the most part, the elements of the job haven’t changed. If anything, technology has actually made the work easier. Oxygen is still H20, the distance between our world and the stars remains the same, but my job is constantly changing!

  • ·       There are no real formulas for entrepreneurial success and anyone who says there is, lies!
  • ·       Markets, products, audience, all are growing, morphing and disappearing at an ever-increasing rate.
  • ·       Even the tools we use are changing almost daily. It’s like trying to cross a street with traffic coming from all directions, against a conveyor that runs towards you.

Of course, I jest. While many things have changed, the basics of success in almost any endeavor in life are essentially the same as they have always been. Build relationships, provide excellent service, sell a great product at a fair price, repeat. We can get so mixed up in the ever changing user interface, that we forget, the game is still the same. 

Entrepreneurs Don’t Get Paid for Mistakes

Science is a game of trial and error. Granted, a rocket scientist that produces a long string of mistakes, that don’t lead to innovation or success, won’t be paid forever, but a part of their job is getting literally paid to fail! If you’ve ever been self-employed, you understand this, no one pays entrepreneurs for their screw ups.

  • ·       You still have to engage in the trial and error, but it’s mostly self funded and needs to be short lived if you expect to survive.
  • ·       Learning to learn from other’s mistakes is critical, you don’t have enough time to make them all.
  • ·       If you’re not earning, you’re not eating. In the entrepreneur game, there are rarely contracts that give us years, or even decades to sort out the fine details of a problem.

That being said, there’s a lot to gain from mistakes. Sometimes mistakes teach us that we were headed down the wrong road entirely, and lead us to success. Be prepared for the times when you work for free because your profit is eaten up in correcting mistakes. Learn to minimize them and laugh at them, and sometimes even turn them to your advantage. 

Entrepreneurs Take the Blame as Well as the Credit

In science, it is all about process. If a researcher follows the established protocol, it’s rare you’ll hear about their responsibility for a failure, even a colossal failure like blowing up a shuttle with astronauts on board, will be chalked up to equipment or atmospheric problems. Not so when a solopreneur screws up, it’s all your fault. There is rarely a “system” to fall back on. 

  • ·       Clients and partners are often more ready to blame than praise. Learn to accept this and move on.
  • ·       If you become defensive in failure, you’ll miss out on some great learning opportunities. Learn to evaluate, find and solve issues so they don’t repeat themselves.
  • ·       By recording your efforts, measuring results and tracking outcomes, you can establish some parameters that will help minimize failure. 

It’s okay. Honestly. I’d rather own my mistakes than not have control over the solutions. When you are the cause of your failure, that means you also hold the keys to creating success the next time. When someone else controls your fate, that’s hard to do. 

Entrepreneurs Can’t Do Cost Overruns

We hear on a regular basis how this or that project was over budget, but somehow it got finished and everyone kept their jobs. This is almost  never the case with entrepreneurs. If you extend yourself beyond your ability to pay, that loan belongs to you and you can only go so far before you’ll hit the end of your ability to spend money you don’t have. 

  • ·       Cost overruns in entrepreneurship are also known as “pay cuts” usually for the boss first. We have to learn to watch expenses and income meticulously.
  • ·       Running over budget can mean failure to deliver, or the need to sell valuable assets and tools to make right with a client.
  • ·       Learning to estimate, bid and manage a project budget to avoid this issue is essential to your survival as a entrepreneur, something most rocket scientists don’t deal with directly. 

You also get to be in control of cost saving measures, or deciding to take on new work to increase revenue, a serious advantage over those that are part of a large institution or enterprise. As an entrepreneur, you are directly in control of your expenses and income and can often make choices not available in other situations to correct your course and keep projects on track. 

Entrepreneurs Aren’t Tax Payer Funded

If I had my way, we wouldn’t fund nearly as many things as we do with taxes. But, since I’m unlikely to ever run for office, that’s just an opinion. For those in the research community, the support of being part of a large government agency allows them the luxury of funding that cannot be refused, unless someone wants to go to jail. It’s unlikely you have that kind of iron-clad contracts with your clients as an entrepreneur. 

  • ·       Economic forces, competition and a million other factors can make a “sure thing” dry up and blow away in a minute.
  • ·       Forecasting your future business can be a huge challenge as well, since it is up to you to attract, convince and service clients to produce revenue.
  • ·       Since you don’t start your year with a guaranteed budget, gearing up to meet demand can be tough as well. 

The old adage, expect the best and plan for the worst comes to mind. While you certainly want to maintain a positive outlook, a certain amount of pragmatism can help you keep from over extending yourself. In entrepreneurial endeavors, too much can be as bad, if not worse, than not enough. It’s a tight rope that we all willingly walk for the freedom it gives us to live life on our own terms.

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