The argument over nature versus nurture is a long-standing one in child-rearing discussion groups. But the same argument can be levelled amongst those who work for themselves. Are entrepreneurs born or made?
It’s often said that you need to be highly motivated and a guru of self-discipline in order to be successfully self-employed entrepreneur. But lacking these traits doesn’t have to mean that you’ve failed in your venture before you’ve even started. There’s more to success. Soloists can be made.
It’s easy to understand the argument for nature. When you work for an employer, you sit at a desk in a corporate office where you are watched by your boss, given a workload and deadlines. It’s noticed if you’re late and there are repercussions if you don’t get your work done. Discipline and motivation are considered key competencies, not necessities.
Are you motivated?
Some individuals have a naturally high motivation level. But this isn’t necessarily the norm for self-starters. Motivation doesn’t have to be a strong constant current, it can ebb and flow like the tide.
Those who work for themselves can hate Monday mornings as much as the next guy. What’s most important is that you choose to work in a profession that you love and enjoy.
When I started working for myself, I found my motivation was really low at first, simply because I didn’t know where to begin. Once my creative juices started flowing, I found my motivation grew daily. Now I can’t wait to get to work – my big problem now is prioritising!
Do you have the discipline?
I don’t like the word ‘discipline’. It offers a negative connotation that you’re forcing yourself to work. Most people know if they’re disciplined or not. A disciplined person will stick to their guns in the face of temptation. They will say no to the dessert menu in a restaurant. They won’t get sidled into meeting a friend instead of going to the gym. If you’re not one of these people, however, you can still work for yourself without feeling ultimate doom due to your lack of restraint.
Try replacing the word ‘discipline’ with ‘balance’. Everyone can achieve balance, with a bit of work and fortitude. Balance means you can order from the dessert menu, occasionally, just have a salad for lunch the next day. As a soloist, balance means you can strive to accomplish goals for your business without sacrificing the other things in life you enjoy.
Specifically, you might find creating a to-do list covering both work and life tasks helps. Reward yourself with a big lunch with colleagues when you’ve completed a project or signed on a new client.
Stick with it
Motivation, discipline and balance will follow each other naturally. They run in a symbiotic circle. Just because you’re not the type of person that can say ‘no’ to chocolate doesn’t mean you can’t run your own business.
What can’t be made is your passion. If you feel passionate about your work, then the rest will follow. All you need now is a great business plan, start-up money and clients!
This article first appeared in Australia’s online magazine for solo business owners, www.flyingsolo.com.au.