I was a corporate soldier for about 15 years and now I have been an entrepreneur for several years longer than that. Although there were some exciting and educational aspects to being a part of a well-known international corporation, the person you become is completely different from the one you become as an entrepreneur.
There are benefits to each, but depending on your values and disposition one will serve you better than the other. It all comes down to the need or necessity for security vs freedom, structure vs flexibility, and direction vs independence.
The most interesting aspect I have noticed between the two is the person you become. Both offer opportunities for personal development and learning, but only as an entrepreneur do you control the curriculum. In addition, your development and learning is truly personal as an entrepreneur.
I must point out that a growing number of relatively new companies encourage an entrepreneurial spirit. They do this by giving their employees nearly total freedom in how they do their job, dress, and wear their hair. Having these freedoms enables a person to be more creative, productive, and satisfied.
In most cases it is the degree to which a company’s environment, values, and product or service align with your needs, principles, and passions. A perfect match is rare working for a corporation. But there is a greater chance of a perfect match working for yourself as an entrepreneur.
It doesn’t really matter how much success you have monetarily in either pursuit. What matters is the level of health, fulfillment, and happiness you have. The degree to which you have these three things will determine how successful you are.
I will now give you an outline of a corporate soldier versus an entrepreneur based on my experience in doing both for about a decade and half.
A corporate soldier…
- Is indoctrinated, and eventually brainwashed, into the corporate system.
- Adapts to the environment and philosophy of the corporation.
- Surrenders to corporate directives whether they fully agree or not.
- Molds themselves to match the corporate style in their appearance, manner, and mindset.
- Develops themselves as dictated by corporate management.
- Frequently must do activities that they do not want to do, believe are a waste of time (e.g. frequent meetings), or do not align with their (true, forgotten, or ignored) values.
- Must work and socialize with people they may or may not like or that do not align with their principles.
- Spends 30-70% of their time in meetings depending on how far up the ladder they are.
- Spends their days as directed by their superiors.
- Constructs their daily schedule as directed by their superiors.
- Works the number of days and hours as dictated by corporate policy and their superiors.
- Dresses and wears their hair as dictated by corporate policy.
- Takes vacations to the duration as dictated by corporate policy and on the dates they have received approval from their superiors.
- Gets free travel to locations and events and with people they may or may not like.
- Gets medical, dental, and vision insurance fully or partly paid with an organization the corporation chooses.
- Trades their time for money.
- Can be transferred to another city, state, or country they may or may not like at any time.
- Can be passed over, demoted, laid off, or fired at any time.
- Develops their own way of doing things in a way that makes them happiest.
- Creates an environment and philosophy that aligns with their personality, values, and goals.
- Never violates their principles or works with anyone who does.
- Grows into being more of their authentic self as each year passes and they choose how they behave and think.
- Develops themselves toward the image they envision and past the limitations of a corporate soldier, by default, just by being an entrepreneur.
- Occasionally does activities that are not their favorite ones, but are requirements of the business, so they happily do them.
- Never engages in time-wasting activities or those that are not congruent with their values.
- Controls who they spend time with and how long.
- Spends 0-15% of their time in meetings.
- Spends their days doing exactly as they want.
- Creates their schedule exactly as they want and in a way that serves them best.
- Works the days and hours that are the most productive and convenient for them.
- Dresses and wears their hair exactly as they want.
- Takes vacations exactly to the duration and on the dates they want.
- Gets to write-off business travel on their taxes to locations and events and with people they like.
- Pays for medical, dental, and vision insurance themselves with the organization they choose.
- Receives income 24-7-365 whether they are working or not as an Internet entrepreneur.
- Can move to another city, state, or country they like any time they choose.
- Can never be passed over, demoted, laid off, or fired.
I am a completely different person now as an entrepreneur than I was as an ignorant, robotic, and arrogant corporate soldier. I am extremely gratefully that I have not spent the second half of my career being a corporate soldier.
I might have lots of money and power, a gigantic house, two vacation homes, and several expensive cars if I had stayed in the corporate world — none of which I value or want. But as an entrepreneur, who has downsized to the max, I have zero debt, no loans of any kind (home, auto), few if any interruptions, and I am much healthier, happier, and freer. I am also a better person living authentically and peacefully and not as some contrived version of myself.
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. And that’s okay. If you have a spouse and children, I understand that the change would be very challenging.
If it wasn’t for the low-cost and flexible lifestyle business model that the Internet enables, I doubt that I would have become an entrepreneur. It fits me perfectly.
However, due to the low-cost and flexible lifestyle of an e-business, anyone can give it a go, even in their spare time, as many people are doing now. There are several articles on this site to help you get a head start on creating your own income-generating website.
I got some great advice when I left the corporate world. My former boss (R.L.), a man I respected and admired, paraphrased a line from Shakespeare when he said to me, “Be true to yourself.” Although at times it has been a struggle, I have and I am pleased.