Entrepreneurship Is Not What You Think…It’s 100% About Serving Others
Every time I read “The 4-Hour Workweek:Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich,” I can’t help but picture laptop millionaires sitting on the beach sipping Pina Coladas while watching their PayPal account balances grow with every round of drinks.
Ten years after Tim Ferriss first sold us this dream in his # 1 New York Times Best Selling book, the notion of entrepreneurship has become wildly popular. Now it would seem that anyone who sets up a weekend garage sale or a side hustle flipping shirts on eBay has the right to classify themselves as being an “entrepreneur” on their social media profile.
What does entrepreneurship really mean?
For all the true entrepreneurs out there, the scene is littered with “wantrepreneurs” selling a dream. In an effort to obtain a more holistic definition of the word, I asked my friend Chris Brogan, who is also one of the most seasoned entrepreneurs I know, to share his thoughts with us.
Brogan was one of the very first bloggers. This was back in the 1990s before anyone even knew what the Internet was, and when blogs were called “bulletin boards” and blogging was “journaling.” He’s a consistent early adopter in tech (Twitter user #10,212) and one of the first podcasters who caught the trend (he ran Pod Camp back in 2006). He is currently the CEO of Owner Media Group, a New York Times Bestselling Author of eight books and a sought-after public speaker. Forbes even listed Brogan’s website on the 100 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs list. Suffice it to say he knows a thing or two about entrepreneurship.
Here’s where most people get it wrong. The problem that most aspiring entrepreneurs face is that they spend too much time focusing on themselves versus other people: What do I need to do to become an entrepreneur? How do I need to position myself? How do I market myself?
According to Brogan, this is dead opposite of what true entrepreneurship means:
“It is never about looking down at your own bellybutton. It is 100% about reaching out and helping other people. Entrepreneurship is actually the action of giving to others and serving others, and then extracting some value back from it. That’s how you make your money. You have to go and help others. Entrepreneurship is the least about what people perceive you to be and the most about did you or didn’t you help someone so that they can refer you to someone else?”
This notion may seem counter intuitive to the young, ambitious (impatient) and aspiring entrepreneur but in reality this is the quickest way to get to that dream Mai Tai beach vacation. As you can see, what separates Brogan from many of the other Internet marketers out there is that every single time he talks about business, it’s always about service.
“I like to show people there’s a way that you could actually run a business that serves other people and that service to the other person is the real core tenet of the business,” he says. “How do you find somebody that you want to serve and how do you help them grow?”
Success is not always what you think
OK, so you’re ready to serve. How long until you get to sip Mai Tais on the beach? One of the chapters in Brogan’s latest book, “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth,” which surprisingly did much better in China than in the United States, is on defining success and how it is different for everyone. Far too many people equate the word success with financial success, but as many entrepreneurs know, doing what you love for a living is almost always seen as the holy grail of being an entrepreneur and the main reason why people set out to become one in the first place.
The freedom and flexibility of being able to say yes or no to work and when you want to do this work is a far greater marker of success. Brogan himself recalls that one of his most successful years was one of his worst years financially. How? He was able to say no to everything he didn’t feel like doing, so for him it was a really successful year.
People often have different notions of what entrepreneurship is or should be. In reality entrepreneurship involves a lot more than sitting on a beach sipping pina coladas while watching your PayPal account accumulate money overnight. A successful entrepreneur has the freedom to chose what they want to do and when they want to do it, but they only achieve this by serving others first. Remember this sound advice from a seasoned entrepreneur the next time you stumble across that title in someone’s social media profile selling you the laptop millionaire dream.
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