Through the course of work, I have met some very capable marketing executives climbing the corporate ladder very successfully. They make a good income, collect fat bonuses and receive their deserving promotions year after year. With their knowledge and experience, they could have started their advertising agencies, marketing consultancy or branding expertise companies easily. However, they have no guts to quit. And they admit it readily, maybe with a hint of resignation.
I know exactly how they feel. I was moving along really well as an Account Executive in a full-fledged advertising agency. I made it to Senior Manager in a few short years and everything looked set for life – Directorship, here I come. I never thought of becoming an entrepreneur. In fact, even when everything went to the dogs, the agency shut down, my next employer laid us off within months, I still never thought to start my own company! I was trained to get my degree, get a good job and be set for life. At that point, it was more like “be sad for life…”
During that economic downtime in 1998, I was barely making a living running projects for a few ad agencies. They could not hire me full time. Then, one day, a financial controller from one of the agencies asked me a question that set me on a totally different path. He asked: “You are already running the entire project for this agency, why then, are you not running your own advertising agency?”
That question struck me from out of the blue. I was not a “boss”. I did not even know how to spell “entrepreneur”. But what he said was so totally true, I was doing everything short of hanging out my own shingles! With that realization, I took a huge step. With less than $3,000 in the bank, and nothing to fall back on, I started my own company. My first check came in at a whopping $117.00 which did not even cover the fees for me to register and setup my own company. But it was the sweetest hundred-odd dollars I ever had.
“Entrepreneurs have a need to achieve; and once having done so, the need to do it all over again.” – Greg Watson
Am I an entrepreneur, born and true, because I run 2 ad agencies today? Frankly, after reading this excellent article by Greg Watson on “DNA of an Entrepreneur” where he declared: Entrepreneurs are Born, I have my doubts.
I have done all the things that an entrepreneur need to do. However, I do not see myself as having the character of a born entrepreneur as defined by Greg Watson and as outlined in the brief, but poignant article. I have trained, no, forced myself to become an excellent entrepreneur for the sake of survival. I’m good at that but I was definitely not born to it. The fire was not in-built, it was ignited by force of the circumstance and environment. This is why when I read Jim Collins’ Good to Great, I have to admit that I am merely at level “Good”. It’s takes much more commitment and sacrifices to make it to “Greatest”. And in the midst of “taking care of business”, I doubt I have the fortitude to make it that final step. But I know that as I strive to give the best value to my clients in each and every project, I am inching towards a higher greatness. Maybe one day, despite my not being born and entrepreneur, I can stand at the finish line, look back, and declare “What a successful entrepreneurial journey!”
For those marketers who are starting their entrepreneurial journey or wondering if they have what it takes to be successful, I strongly recommend you to read Greg Watson’s 10 characteristics and 1 core value of entrepreneurship in his aptly titled “DNA of an Entrepreneur“.
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After Note: I have written another post, Are You a Born Entrepreneur?, and over there, I have invited several friends to join me in this discussion. They have responded. Do take time to visit their blogs and read their take:
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