By now, it is not too hard to infer that I am a salaried worker or employee of a company. I have had thought about entrepreneurship before, though in a fleeing manner: being your own Boss, working at your own pace and time, greater control over your path in life and greater sense of satisfaction at work.
However, when most people think about embarking as an entrepreneurs or leave the company they are currently in to start work outside, what they really mean is to be self-employed or work for themselves.
There are differences between the following:
Professionals have studied and are working in their specialised field
Self-employed does everything
Business owners own and grow businesses
Entrepreneurs employ skilled people to do work
What does being a Professional entails?
Professionals are specialists qualified in their own fields. They could be your accountants, lawyers, doctors etc. They have to be physically there or else the business would not run.
A partner at an accounting firm could get his administrative staff to carry out some functions or his apprentice to help audit a customer’s financial statements. However without him signing off, the final report would not be valid.
What is also interesting is that a Professional can work at different professional levels depending on his drive. Let us take the case of a doctor. A doctor could attempt to climb high up the corporate ladder in his hospital. He could also choose to leave and open his own practice outside. The very same profession could also take on the role of CEO of a hospital or even CEO of a hospital group.
A Professional is only limited by his capabilities and drive at work.
What does being a Self-employed entails?
A Self-employed basically means a one-man show. You are your own hirer. If you work, you will income. Otherwise you starve. Most people who think hard about being an entrepreneur (like I mentioned above) really meant that they want to be self-employed.
Being Self-employed is the first step to being an Entrepreneur, as how we would see later in the article. The start from scratch is not easy. Without the administrative, IT, financial services etc. support of a corporate structure, you are basically left to run every single thing from sourcing and engaging potential customers, doing up and maintaining your own company website, filing your tax returns at the end of the year.
Of course you could choose to outsource some services, for example engaging a part-time accountant to verify accuracy of your annual financial statements or filing your taxes once annually. However, this will eat into your revenue and most Self-employed are “Jack of all trades” in this aspect.
The difference being a Professional and Self-employed is that the earlier has skills and expertise so niche that he could practically survive in the open market (whether as a freelancer, own practice or corporate world) due to market demand. A Self-employed is more generic, he could offer products and services so common in the market that he would have to stand out in his own niche to even have a decent market share.
Examples would include being a insurance agent, property agent, Grab driver etc. This is where my previous article comes in handy, which is the need to create value for your customer to stand out from the crowd.
What does being a Business Owner entails?
After some time, you would have matured and be more familiar with your business. You would have thought of expansion and scaling upwards, both in terms of your business and your team. There is only so much one person can do in 24 hours.
Like how Adam Khoo puts it, reserve your time for performing higher-value work and hired relevant people to take up the lower-value work for yourself. If you still know little about web design at this stage, hire a web developer. If you don’t know the difference between revenue, gross income or turnover, please do yourself a favor and hire an accountant.
A business owner reserves his time to focus on growing his business – more clients, more projects, more networking sessions.
What does being an Entrepreneur entails?
An entrepreneur is the epitome of this “career path”. By this time, you are considerably very matured in your business and able to run it freely with only some intervention needed at critical times. A good gauge is this, can you not meddle with your business for 3 months confidently and still hit the performance targets? No?
An entrepreneur who runs a childcare business in Singapore, or more specifically 2 childcare centres employs a principal in each of his centres. The principals are skilled staff who had worked their ranks up from being a childcare teacher through the years and have the necessary qualification and certification. They are left to run the run the show and submit quarterly reports to the entrepreneur for review.
Another entrepreneur runs a cafe business in several Singapore secondary and primary schools. He hires a manager for each cafe, who reports upwards to an area manager in the North, South, East and West regions. The entrepreneur receives a consolidated earnings report at each semester and plans his move for the next expansion. He sends his deputies to carry out spot checks at his branches to ensure consistency of the reports.
This is the level to hit to be considered an Entrepreneur. You dedicate downwards to the experts and concentrate on consolidating your businesses. Many people would stop here. Those who are more adventurous would go on to be an Investor of other people’s businesses or even ding philanthropy works.
The path to being an Entrepreneur is not an overnight journey. It is undeniably tough, some sacrifice their youth and family time. However, what I also observe is that these same people are usually the ones who are the most motivated and forward looking in life. All, if not for exceptions, are following through on their passion.
Before you start out and tender your resignation, consider this: Do you have what it takes to be an Entrepreneur?