One of the most common questions a would-be entrepreneur is most concerned with is whether or not they will have success in their new business. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a self-employed individual was indeed stuck. Stuck making a little money running a little business in their little area. Not so now. No, today, no one who is part of the self-employed army need be stuck any place, or doing any thing. The playing field has been leveled.
How much is the world changing? Consider this: According to a report I saw recently issued by the software firm VMware, the term “employee” will probably disappear in the second half of the 21st century as workers transition into becoming their own business.
Let me share a cool example: Several years ago, AJ Leon had a sweet job on Wall Street. And yet he was incredibly unhappy because he was, he concluded, “living someone’s else’s life.” That is, he was doing what he was supposed to do, not what he longed to do.
Leon decided that working in Manhattan for the big firm making the big bucks was a big waste of his time and talent.
As he told me, “I used to be an unremarkably average finance executive in New York with a six-figure salary.” On December 31, 2007, he had had enough and he up and quit to join the ranks of self-employed. Not only that, he decided to do so in a uniquely radical way: AJ Leon decided his business would have no home office, in fact, it would have no offices at all. Wanting to travel and do work that “makes a difference,” AJ started the virtual creative design business, Misfit.
Now, several years later, he and his wife travel the world, work and run their business from the road, and have a virtual staff of nine who work from all corners of the globe.
In his own words: “For many years, I lived the life I was supposed to live, you know, the one that your parents and your teachers and your friends think you should. I graduated from university Summa Cum Laude with three degrees, and accepted a job offer at the largest firm I could find, paying the highest salary I could get. I did what you do in finance and jumped from firm to firm, following the money and climbing the proverbial ladder.
“There was this small issue, though. Like many people, it was never the life I actually wanted. I was terrified – my life seemed to be sailing further away from who I really was. Then it struck me. I realized that if I didn’t leave right there and then, I was going to be that dude for the rest of my life. For the first time in my life, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to live the life I was supposed to live, I could live the one I was destined to live. I walked out. My very own emancipation.
“I created Misfit, Inc. on purpose to be a nomadic, creative shop. Anyone who understands what I am talking about can do something similar in his or her world. I believe I have something to say to a generation of Misfits like me that don’t quite fit in the parameters that the world set out for them. People that are just inches away from remarkable, and only need to see that there is indeed another way.”
There is indeed another way.
The advantage that the individual has over big corporations is that he or she needs no permission to take the initiative. Consider the wise words of the once and great futurist, Buckminster Fuller. He was, he decided one day, a “trim tab:”
“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary – the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. So I said, call me Trim Tab.”
No, you need not be trapped in that job you hate, working for that jerk who isn’t as smart as you. Today there are tools, websites, mentors, money options, and opportunities galore. There is a global, entrepreneurial revolution happening right now if you look closely.
So go ahead. You can be like the AJ Leons of the world. Maybe it is time for you too to become a self-employed trim tab.