There are two types of entrepreneurs in the world, and you need to know—unequivocally— which type you are if you want to find satisfaction and success.
Your type will be rooted in your overall business goals; being that you either want to create a job for yourself or you want to create an empire. You are one or the other. It’s in your DNA, your programming, and it’s highly unlikely that you can change. (I say ‘highly unlikely’ because I’m not God so I can’t speak in absolutes and, you know, that whole Epigenetics thing.)
This distinction is so important, because your answer will inform your entire business. It will also inform your happiness and satisfaction in life. “No big deal”.
So how do you know which type you are? Simple. You just need to ask yourself what you want to spend your days doing.
TYPE ONE: “I LOVE WHAT I DO.”
If you love what you do, and want to do it every day, then you most likely do not want an Empire. Because building an empire means that you will spend your time running a company and not doing the thing you love.
If your jam is to make jam, or flowers, or coffee, or coach businesses (and you are really good at it) then at some point you’ll get so big that your business will demand that you work ON your company instead of IN your company.
When you reach this point, you won’t be able to spend your days making gooey jammy goodness, curating bouquets, roasting beans or coaching one-on-one because you’ll be managing staff, doing bookkeeping or having meetings (like, all the god damned time). At this point, you either need to scale up or scale down.
What does scaling up mean? It means you are going to start growing your business into an Empire, which bring us to…
TYPE TWO: “I LOVE TO GROW.”
If you love to grow and want to one day start multiple companies, do TED talks, or otherwise do some big shit, then you do not want a job. You, young Vader*, want an empire. If you want to build an empire then you have a very big hill ahead of you, and you will need to hone a strong sense of self awareness and emotional management. Building your life’s work is an all consuming thing.
In order to grow an empire you need to be able to pivot and learn constantly. To grow. To change. To evolve and push yourself. But most importantly you have to be utterly addicted to this growth and change. It will be so demanding of you that if your heart isn’t 100% in it, it will drain and dismay you.
You need to truly and completely love the growth (both internally and externally), and you need to truly and completely want the people around you to grow because you can not build an empire on your own.
I can’t write an entire article on business and innovation without mentioning Steve Jobs at least once. So, here we go: Steve jobs started out designing computers with his buddy in a garage, and when he grew his company he was not in the trenches soldering together tiny computer wires, he was in a board room designing ideas and managing talent. He was addicted to growing and dominating the market with ever changing improvements.
You can’t build an empire while working IN the business, but…
TYPE THREE: SURPRISE! THERE IS A HYBRID.
For all of you unicorn entrepreneurs out there, who are unbelievably self aware, you can have your gluten free, dairy free, sugar free cake and eat it too.
If you want to build an empire, but you can’t imagine life without also doing the thing you love, then you can build that into your role. You can hire competent people to support you in your duties as an owner, to afford you the time to work IN the business one or two days a week (making wine, designing graphics, repairing boats or whatever it is that floats your boat) then you can be an Empire builder who also loves what they do.
This is where self awareness comes in. You have to be able to give over some control to the people that you ask to take over your responsibilities (without breathing down their necks and struggling for power). You can’t have both. Sorry, not sorry. Remember that thing I said about “you can not build an empire on your own”? Well, I really mean it.
*Foot Note: did you know that Vader means father in German? I learned that from Pitch Perfect. Also everything I know about Star Wars is from this SNL Skit, so you’ll just need to get over it if I referenced Darth Vader incorrectly.