Why I Couldn't Become An Entrepreneur Earlier
February 4, 2008 by Akemi Gaines
The opportunity to become an entrepreneur was there all the time.
In hindsight, I can see it. Like when I was let go from the bank. I was also recently divorced. My friend from the support group suggested it. She had a landscaping business – she loved working outside with plants and rocks, and being her own boss allowed her to define her time so she could meditate or even meet friends before work. She saw I was a good self-starter with lots of ideas, and suggested to think what I wanted to do with my special gifts. But I didn’t take her words . . . or more accurately, I didn’t take myself seriously. . .
Or back when I was in Japan when I organized a JSL (Japanese as Second Language) teachers’ association. We created a booklet that served the dual purposes of learning basic Japanese and learning the survival skills in earthquake emergency. (Remember the big quake that hit Kobe in 1995?) I could make more books (today, they’d be e-books) and sell, organize similar groups when I came to the US . . .
So why did I stay in the Corporate America?
1. I liked the ease and security of picking up paychecks.
Prior to coming to the US, I worked as freelance language teacher, teaching Japanese to non-Japanese and English to Japanese businesspeople. The hourly pay was excellent, but it was tough to fill my schedule, so overall I didn’t make enough money. When I first got my full-time job, I couldn’t believe how easy it was! I received the same amount of money whether the business was busy or not, and even for days I was in training. No toiling around for new clients, no need to plan for potential income dip . . . Thank God. I loved the steady, predictable paychecks . . . until I started to think I may have more value than the paycheck . . .
2. I liked the learning opportunities the workplace provided.
Learning new things excites me. And in the corporate world, I could do this at company expense! I also liked the fact that I was pushed to learn things I may not have learned otherwise. I knew this was important. I had to keep my computer skills up to date. I learned how to interact with all levels of personnel, from the CEO of our parent company (billion dollar international corporation) to the housekeepers I was supervising (new immigrants who spoke little English). I learned about various banking products, safety policies in manufacturing environment, and management of corporate identity (yes, I’ve been around). I even went through training for TS16949 internal auditor. (Don’t worry, most people have no idea what this is, you are not alone.) I think these experiences have enriched my life. The problem was that I grew to be more and more interested in learning the kind of things my company was not interested in teaching me. Like real estate investments. And helping people to see their own special gifts . . .
3. I was afraid of life changes.
If I go independent, will I have health insurance? Will I qualify to get in an apartment or to have a mortgage? Will I be able to take all aspects of business, like accounting and tax preparation, and computer technical support? Will I have friends, and will my family and friends accept me without a job?
All these issues have solutions (I will be writing them in details), but the problem was I was I was so afraid that the fear paralyzed me and interfered with my logical thinking for solutions.
4. I didn’t know how to start a business, and I didn’t know where to start.
Because I was in the corporate world, pretty much all my friends were employees, who had no idea about entrepreneurship. I attended some workshops for small business startups, and came home discouraged . . . Other attendants already had their businesses or at least had business plans. I only had the vague idea that what I know and can do may be valuable. I didn’t have anyone help me connect the dots . . .
5. And most importantly, I didn’t believe in myself.
It was easier to fit in the corporate world than to take the leap and face my potential (or the lack of it). Or so I tried to convince myself. Somehow work got more and more stressful, my boss became meaner and meaner . . . until I had to admit to myself I was getting into health issues. Just like 13 years ago when I realized it was either I’d get out of my home town to re-building my life in America or I’d go through a slow death. I just had to do something for myself . . .
Now that I am an entrepreneur, I am not upset at myself for taking this long. Maybe I needed this much of time. Maybe my experiences in the corporate world will help me in my business. Yet I do wish more help was available when my entrepreneur spirit was in embryonic stage. Someone who could help me realize that I had already outgrown my job, someone who could help me build my confidence, and steer me to the right direction . . .And this is why I now help people in the same situation.
What do you think? Are you tempted to start your own business and yet find it hard to take the leap? What is your reason of staying where you are now? What does it take for you to get over your fear?