Believe it or not, that’s a little hard for me to say. The other day I was writing an email to a friend and noticed my interesting behavior.
As I was sharing how I’ve (voluntarily) overworked myself for the past few years, I caught myself hesitating writing, “the life of an entrepreneur” when describing myself. Why was that so hard for me to say? I almost changed it to “being self-employed.” When I caught myself doing that, I stopped and forced myself to write “entrepreneur.” Because the truth is, that is what I am. And you might be, too, even if you don’t know it yet. We always think an entrepreneur has to be Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.
It’s someone who is a savant, a genius in their field. They sacrifice, have passion, and often work until 3 am because they are so obsessed with their mission. But that’s not me. And it might not be you, either. You can be an entrepreneur without being that unicorn. If you create a business, you are an entrepreneur. If you want to work for yourself and create something out of nothing— even if you’re a normal person— why can’t you become an entrepreneur?
Let’s expand the definition of what an entrepreneur is. Because in thinking that you have to fit a certain mold, you prevent yourself from even trying. I always knew I wanted independence. I didn’t want to have a boss who I always had to report to. This is why I became a dentist. Even though I didn’t want to own a practice, I wanted that autonomy that comes with being a dentist. And I always had jobs where I felt that freedom most of the time. When I sought out change, I didn’t know what I was passionate about but knew I wanted that life. So, I kept trying for it until it happened. It wasn’t super focused, streamlined, or fast. But it worked. Eventually, I built something out of nothing and found my passion for work.
It shows that you don’t have to be willing to sacrifice your whole life to start your dream business. You can take care of yourself and take breaks and go to sleep at 9 pm even while starting a business. In fact, I’d argue that if you don’t take care of yourself, something will break anyway.
This is the beauty of starting a side gig. It allows you to start slow. Maybe if you’re not pulling those 3 am nights, you will have slower growth. So what? Isn’t the point of creating a dream to make you happier and give you freedom? No one ever says, “I want to start a business so that I can feel more trapped and exhausted.” If you have that desire, as I had, know that you don’t have to fit into the “entrepreneur” mold to create what you want. You just must have the desire and belief and keep going.
We might not build that billion-dollar empire, but that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship: You get to create the life you want.
It’s okay if your building process is slower. If you focus on enjoying the process, not the endpoint, then at least you are living. (Or at least trying!) Show up, take the pressure off, and remove the labels of what you think you should be, and the right thing will come your way. If you don’t have a passion, get curious and explore. You never know when your passion
will find you. I challenge you to stop diminishing how hard you work and start believing that you are enough. Become a cheerleader for yourself and celebrate the small wins. And say, “I am an entrepreneur.” That belief will begin to grow, and when you believe, you can dream and achieve—on your terms.