You might not be a true entrepreneur – and that’s okay

I listened to a podcast series more recently by Seth Godin that really struck me and helped me realise a few things. He prompted us to ask the question:

Do I want to be a Freelancer or an Entrepreneur?

It made me realise, I’ve never actually been a true entrepreneur and I think this is why I felt uncomfortable about continuing the businesses I had started: event coordination, admin support, life coaching etc. Because these are freelance ventures where I’m tied down and stuck working on the ground. I realised for the first time that I prefer the idea of being an entrepreneur, being the director, working “on” the business, not “in” the business.

Then an opportunity unexpectedly presented itself for me to start a business for my family that wasn’t necessarily something I was passionate about but as I’ve begun, I’m discovering a mindset shift, a different and exciting vision I’ve never experienced before. 

I’m realising for the first time, this is a business I can employ people to run while I work on the big picture. This is a business that allows me to create employment for my family, my relatives, my friends. My brother, whose haemorrhage burst at the age of sixteen, who’s had two brain surgeries that impacts his memory and ability to communicate, whose job prospects are limited. My cousin, who is a single mum and has unsuccessfully been trying to find a job for years in spite of her Masters Degree. I can create jobs for them and make their lives easier and more fulfilling Insha Allah.

For the first time, I’m starting a business that isn’t exactly my passion—an online store selling home and garden products to the US market—but its ability to potentially help and benefit people I care about is the part that does fuel my spirit.

So if you yourself are in a business or starting one, some things to reflect on are:

  • Are you actually a freelancer (where only you can do the work) rather than an entrepreneur (who will ultimately lead a team of people to make an idea come to life that solves a problem)?
  • If yes, does being a freelancer give you more pleasure than the idea of managing people that is the real job of an entrepreneur?

Fascinatingly, Seth Godin himself realised from the experience of running his own company that he preferred freelancing—being the author, the consultant, the speaker, the trainer—and moved back to doing more of that.

So there’s nothing wrong with being a freelancer although the word isn’t as sexy as “entrepreneur”. But what I’ve been learning is, be clear what you want to do because they are very different paths.

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Raihanaty A Jalil

Author: Raihanaty A. Jalil

Raihanaty A Jalil writes poetry and fiction and has been on a panel during Perth Festival Writers Week 2019. She has performed a reading of her work at the Wheeler Centre Melbourne during the Digital Writers’ Festival 2019. She currently sits on the board for Centre for Stories.