Guest Post by Tom Panaggio
Entrepreneurship is a noble and necessary vocation. One I would highly recommend. Not because it is a pathway to millionaire status or untold riches, as those are as long a shot as becoming an NBA player. But because entrepreneurship provides those who have the courage, drive, and desire the opportunity for self-expression, empowerment, and autonomous freedom. The rewards of such self-actualization, in time, far exceed any monetary or status payoff that one might be lucky enough to receive. I justify this by saying that at life’s end we never have regrets for what we did, only for what we did not do.
The World of Entrepreneurism
The great news is entering the world of entrepreneurship is quite easy, and therefore accessible to those who are willing to embrace the inherent risks and possesses an “I Want to Win” attitude. Anyone who harbors an entrepreneurial dream can take the leap of faith to pursue that dream. And what about the risk? Not to worry, risk is simply the cost of an opportunity. Nothing of value is free or cheap, and those who truly want to follow their entrepreneurial dream are willing to pay this cost.
There are some people who express themselves by writing poetry or novels. Some do it by painting or sculpting. Others by building model airplanes or pre-war hot rods. And still others express themselves by creating a business.
The entrepreneur, like the author or songwriter, has something to say and their forum is the business world. Their melody is a vision that blends an entrepreneurial dream with commitment to act. The lyrics are their forward motion with a clear and simple message; “I want to win.”
The Case for Entrepreneurism
There is a cupcake/bakery shop here in Tampa that my wife and I visit regularly. In fact the woman who owns the shop, Kim, created our wedding cake. Every item she sells in her shop is an act of self-expression. Today she feels like salted caramel frosting on a double chocolate cake, and that’s what is prominently sitting in the display among the other works of art she has created. And because this is her body of work, an expression and reflection of Kim, the quality is never compromised.
The act of empowerment is the result of letting that self-expression to the surface. This leads to confidence in one’s ability. And for an entrepreneur this empowerment allows you the courage to embrace risk, the risk that is always present throughout your journey. But risk is always traveling with a much-desired companion, opportunity.
Empowerment is not control but is the acceptance of responsibility and the delegation of trust. Leadership is not “me” having control over you. Leadership is “me” showing and guiding you. And leadership recognizes that empowerment must be offered to everyone throughout the organization. A leader with an entrepreneurial mindset isn’t looking for credit or accolades they are looking for results. By empowering those who are dedicating themselves to building your dream you effectively create a trusting bond and an individual who is committed.
Empowerment does require 3 things: being a benevolent advocate of change, a strong character, and a willingness to encourage a culture of failure. Nothing in business creates more fear than change. Yet without change a business is on a slippery slope toward irrelevance. To lead you need to have your moral compass pointed toward absolute integrity. And when you allow those you lead the latitude to try and fail, without retribution, innovation and creativity will flow effortlessly.
Finally autonomous freedom does not provide you with unfettered freedom to do and act as you please. However entrepreneurship gives you the opportunity to choose your own path and make decisions that you deem necessary.
My business partner Jorge had created a hugely successful marketing program at the company he was working for prior to forming our partnership. But since this company was part of a larger, publicly traded corporation he never had the chance to maximize its potential while working there. It was only after he left that company and we began our own marketing company did Jorge have the freedom to develop his program. Entrepreneurs have the latitude to seek their own destiny and not conform to someone else’s.
As I said, if your purpose in pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity is riches, I believe you will be sadly forsaken. The odds are simply against you. However if you seek personal satisfaction in the form of self-expression, empowerment, and autonomous freedom then your calling is to pursue an entrepreneurial dream — take the leap of faith and embrace the risk of starting your own business. I highly recommend it.
© 2014 Tom Panaggio, author of The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge
Tom Panaggio, author of The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge, has enjoyed a thirty-year entrepreneurial career as co-founder of two successful direct marketing companies: Direct Mail Express (which now employs over 400 people and is a leading direct marketing company) and Response Mail Express (which was eventually sold to an equity fund, Huron Capital Partners). As a result, he can give a true perspective on starting and running a small business. His practical approach to business concepts and leadership is grounded in the belief that success is the result of a commitment to embracing risk as a way to ensure opportunity.