You don’t need to be an ENTJ personality to go it alone
There was some predictable criticism about Seth Godin’s post yesterday on the What Would Dad Say blog. Most of the criticism rightly points out that not everybody is suited to being an entrepreneur. But I don’t think that the point was to turn everyone into an entrepreneur, but rather to urge people to do something – anything.
When the job market is so tight, and opportunities so limited, it makes sense to do something for yourself. It doesn’t need to be revolutionary or even “new”. The ideas he suggests are hardly earth-shattering: sell coffee, start a news-stand, deliver birthday cakes. But you might make money at it, and you’ll certainly have the motivation to make a success of it. Of course, as he points out, if you’re good at it, someone might hire you.
Some steps to going it alone
1. Work out what you’re good at doing, and what you enjoy doing.
Are you a “people person”, a “stickler for detail” or a “big thinker”? These character traits will often draw you to certain types of jobs, and therefore to new, potentially interesting areas.
2. Think laterally about your skills – and how they could fit market opportunities.
I know I don’t have the skills to be a computer programmer, but I have language skills and I could translate for foreign dignitaries who visit my town. I could also run tours in the countries where I speak the language. It helps if you make a list of all your skills, and the potential spin-offs, then strike them off the list if they’re too impractical or need too much capital to get off the ground.
3. Get support from friends and family.
Ask for their feedback and opinions, and ask for their help in getting the word out.
4. Accept risks.
This is difficult to quantify, as we all have different levels of risk-aversion. Going it alone certainly involves a risk – perhaps defined as the risk of moving outside your “comfort zone”, where you don’t have the security of a monthly salary, travel expenses and so on. You could also argue that if you’re not currently in paid employment, the lack of security is something you’re already living with. Risking a new idea is perhaps the first of many risks you’ll take, but the more small successes you have, the more willing you become to try something new.
5. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Not everything will work or make you lots of money. But if you start small, give yourself a reasonable deadline and set realistic targets, you’re already half-way there to making a success.