Are You a “Failed” Entrepreneur or Just Longing for the Corporate Cradle?

Some of the saddest people I meet with consider themselves to have self-destructed because they started an on-line or free-standing business, decided it was not for them, and now face a job hunt.  Just a minute!  If this sounds like you may I respectfully request that you revisit your original reasons for going solo?  I’ve seen at least a few thousand wannabee entrepreneurs in the last five years — and are they a romantic lot!  They’ve bought the media cool aid that entrepreneurs are a higher life form than those who labor for a Fortune 50.  Consider some facts.

failed entrepreneurs

1.  Only six to 15 percent of the population really enjoys its own company, i.e., can genuinely be happy working alone for long periods.  This includes artists, writers, and thinkers before we add in the entrepreneurs.  Yet, few businesses start with employees, just that lonely — or not so — founder.  Of all the people who started profitable businesses 20 percent sold the business and returned to corporate America.  The solitude wasn’t for them.

2.  Few of the so-called failures were driven by one of two classic — and still true — entrepreneurial drivers: “I can do it better,” or “I want to do it my way — and only my way.”  When people start a business one of these has to be true.  “I want to make millions,” doesn’t compete because it’s a dream not an action step.  “I’m totally, completely right,” is motivating.

3.  “I need people to interact with, compete with, and impress.”  You are an extrovert and need an introverted partner to happily start a business.  Yet, partnerships are the trickiest relationships on earth.  If you decide you would have succeeded with a partner get advice from someone with long experience in working with, and for, partners.

4.  Changing your mind isn’t a failure.  It’s prudent.  Remember the three most important words in the language are, “Cut your losses.”  How foolish is to keep working at a business you’re no longer single-mindedly determined to make a success?

The only reason we’d talk about people returning to the corporate world is that the gatekeeper, HR, has to be convinced that you didn’t fail as an entrepreneur, you no longer wish to work solo.  That means some convincing examples of your group leadership, collegiality, and partnership skills as applied in your start-up.  You can make the sale if being part of an organization is your new reality.

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