Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #80
The fatal flaw of overly talented entrepreneurs
Just a quick heads up: With the holidays approaching, I’m going to dial back the newsletters for the next couple weeks. I’m sending this one today (obviously), but I’ll be skipping my usual Friday newsletter since it’s Christmas Eve and, let’s face it, nobody wants to read articles about entrepreneurship on Christmas Eve.
Same thing will happen next week. I’ll send a newsletter on Tuesday, but I’ll skip Friday since it’s New Year’s Eve and hopefully you have better things to do then, too. In January, I’ll get back to my normal publishing schedule.
Still, that doesn’t mean I won’t have lots of good stuff for you. That includes, in this issue, a conversation with the guy in charge of wireless services strategies at Google who also happens to be the same person who basically gave the world high speed Internet. Pretty cool, huh? His name is Milo Medin, and he’s my guest on this week’s episode of Web Masters.
Enjoy the issue, have a wonderful holiday — however you choose to celebrate — and I’ll be back next week. Oh, and if you feel like giving someone you love a great gift, just press this big orange button and tell a friend about Entrepreneur Office Hours:
I Killed My Company By Being Good at too Many Things
In the startup world, knowing too much can be a liability. It’s a lesson I — and a lot of entrepreneurs — have to learn the hard way. But maybe, by reading this article, you won’t have to.
The Farm Boy Who Gave the World Faster Internet
The reason you have fast Internet today isn't just because of high speed networks and fiber optic cables. The data you're accessing is also closer to you than you realize, and that's because of Milo Medin, co-founder of @Home, the first consumer, high speed cable Internet service.
Find out why Milo's innovation was so important on the new episode of Web Masters. Listen now on:
…or search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
FROM THE ARCHIVES…
In Defense of Ebenezer Scrooge: Why Entrepreneurs and Business People Hate Christmas
Around this time every year, poor Ebenezer Scrooge gets a bit of a bad rap. As a fellow entrepreneur and business owner, I like to remind people why he is like he is, and maybe it’s not so bad. At the very least, it’s understandable.
Office Hours Q&A
I’ve been wondering about something for a while, and since you’re always answering questions, you seemed like the right person to ask.
I work for a pharmaceutical consulting firm. Over the years, I’ve had colleagues leave the company and start their own consulting agencies where they take on similar work, but just do it themselves. Some seem to really have liked it. Others not so much. Still, I’m thinking it might be time for me to consider taking the same route.
Do you have any thoughts on starting a consulting business like that? What are the pros and cons? And do you have any advice or warnings or things I should watch out for?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
The scenario you’ve described here is one of those “grass is always greener on the other side” kinds of things. By that I mean, from the perspective of someone doing a job inside a big company, the “independent consultant” version of the same job probably looks way more attractive. There’s less bureaucracy to deal with, you’ll have more control over your hours, more creative control, and you’re getting the full payment for your work rather than only getting a salary while the clients you’re working for are probably writing your bosses some huge checks. Why wouldn’t you want to go independent?
However, once you do go out on your own, you’ll quickly realize how much value you were getting from the big company you were working for. For example, billing and accounting are enormous hassles which you probably don’t have to deal with in your current job. However, as a sole proprietor, you’ll suddenly have to manage those types of operational tasks alongside your consulting responsibilities. Heck, just getting customers requires a huge amount of effort. The fact that your current job just hands projects to you will seem like an enormous luxury when you’re suddenly in the position of having to go out and get those projects yourself.
All this is to say there’s really no right or wrong (or better or worse) answer here. There are benefits and drawbacks to working for a company, and there are benefits and drawbacks to doing the same gig yourself. So it’s not so much a question of what to watch out for. Instead, the path you prefer will come down to personal preference.
If I were you, I’d spend time tracking down some of those former colleagues of yours that you referenced and talk with them. See what they like and don’t like about the choice they made, and then make your decision from there.
Just remember that nothing is going to be perfect. You’re always going to dislike some parts of your job and enjoy other parts. That’s a natural part of… well… anything. Because of this, when deciding whether or not to pursue a more personal/individual type of entrepreneurial venture like what you’re describing here, your top priority should be putting yourself in a position that makes you most happy. Again, that’s not 100% happy. Instead, it’s a question of trying to figure out which version of your job you’ll prefer to do: the one where you work for someone else; or the one where you work for yourself.
All that stated, I’ll note that, so far as I can tell, it sounds like you should give working for yourself a shot. If you don’t like it, I’m guessing you’ll be able to get back into a corporate environment pretty easily. Heck, after working on your own for a while, you might even be more valuable in a corporate environment. Seems like an experiment worth trying. Still, that’s just my two cents. Do with it as you will.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!