Two Ways to be an Entrepreneur

There is a metaphor people use to illustrate the non-stop action and exhilaration of starting up and running a venture: it’s like building a race car while you’re driving it down the freeway.

A client of mine one-upped this image and likened entrepreneurship to jumping off of a cliff and building an airplane on the way down.

As an entrepreneur and coach of entrepreneurs, I can say both are accurate. Entrepreneurship requires boldness, ingenuity, courage, and deep, unyielding faith in yourself because people will be looking at you like you’re freefalling when you know you’re flying (or about to be).

You know you’re an entrepreneur when people don’t quite get what you’re doing because that means you’re on to something new.

However, as exciting as these images are, starting a venture doesn’t have to be this way. You can, contrary to popular belief, build the car or the plane on the ground. To those that find this idea appealing: the best way to keep the ground under your feet is to not jump in the first place.

Start building while you already have a job. Or do some consulting on the side or walk dogs or sell real estate or whatever.

You see, that freefall, that need for speed, is usually due to the fear of running out of money (something investors call “runway,” appropriately enough). If you keep the money coming in, you stretch out your runway.

For this reason, you should never resent that “other job” you have to do. It’s your runway builder and it’s making your dream possible. A day job is like an investor who is relentlessly happy to dole out cash for you with no questions asked. Believe me, this is hard to find!

So, if you thrive under pressure, jump off the cliff with your sheet metal and rivet gun, but if you prefer to build with patience, create your own investment partner and take all the time you need.

We’ll wait.