Monday Musings, 25: "You Don't Have to Be an Entrepreneur to Be Successful"

I've been in the tech startup scene for over two years so far, and it's been fascinating to watch hungry tech entrepreneurs execute on big ideas and carry out their dreams. In the age of the Internet, turning your dreams into reality are more possible than ever before. Compared to the pre-Internet era, it takes very little time to identify a need, find a market, build a product or content, and monetize it. It seems like everyone wants in on the entrepreneurial-frenzy that's happening in our society. While this is surely admirable, it has sparked empty rhetoric towards those of us who don't have entrepreneurial ambitions.

One thing that I've noticed recently is the superiority complex that a lot of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs (tech and non-tech) possess when it comes to careers and success. There's this notion that entrepreneurship is the be–all and end–all of modern-day success. That, somehow, having a normal job is the wrong way to go about being successful. You don't have to look very far to find a quote that condescends on job-seeking people. For example, Tony Gaskins Jr. once said, “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

There's no doubt that the quote was intended to be motivational for entrepreneurs, but what it also does is insinuate that being hired to do a job is a negative thing. I've heard from many others who have the same view. The view that having a job is bad and not fulfilling, and starting your own company is the only way to find true success. This type of empty rhetoric and condescension towards employees is misguided and perpetuated by faux entrepreneurs who only know how to ride the bandwagon. Moreover, it's a microcosm of our obsession with entrepreneurship and the celebrity of the entrepreneur (think Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Shark Tank).

This type of empty rhetoric and condescension towards employees is misguided and perpetuated by faux entrepreneurs who only know how to ride the bandwagon.

Yes, entrepreneurs have and continue to change the way we live for the better. But to ignore and look down upon the hard-working people who build out the dreams of entrepreneurs and find success while doing so is dangerous and irresponsible. Our economy is driven by entrepreneurs and the workforce behind them. One can't thrive without the other. Entrepreneurial ideas can't grow and scale without employees.

On a personal level, you can achieve success with a normal career, and there are many people who have (ever heard of Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer?). Don't let someone convince you that the way you're living your life is the wrong way to live it. Entrepreneurship isn't easy and it isn't for everybody. You can have a job and be happy and successful. Regardless of whether you're an entrepreneur or a person with a job, the only thing that matters is your passion. Your passion will guide you down the right path.