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Juliet Asante Headshot

The One Thing You Must Do Before You Die: Be an Entrepreneur

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There is a line in one of Ludacris' song that I really like: "What is a life worth living if it's not on the edge? Why go through life only to arrive at death safely?"

If you share this feeling, come along with me! Why? Because one of the craziest things you can do, is to become an entrepreneur, especially in a developing or third world country. But then, if you ask me, it is also crazy not to do it. So in the land of the crazy, I'd rather be the craziest and be good at something. He then goes on to say "I like to roll the dice, and so, I'm willing to bet, I will be crazy for the rest of my life!" or at least something in that domain.

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Working for others sucks, pure and simple! Why would you want to spend your entire life, working for someone? True, there are good reasons why: the job security. Nothing can beat that. The worst part of being an entrepreneur is not having security! Especially when you have a family to help take care of. This is the only plus for taking crap all your life. Someone else gets to worry about the bills and have the sleepless nights. You get paid, whether you do your job or not. You get to chat with your friends on Facebook most of the time, or give up when things are a bit too stressful and go home. There is a famous saying in my motherland: "After all, the job is not your father's!"

Hey, you might even get away with using the office supplies for your personal stuff, who is checking? And for many, these reasons beat any reason why they must set out and be done in, just as they have done others in -- well, especially if you believe that you reap what you sow. But I doubt that is the reason stopping you; for when you think of reaping and sowing, you think only of the good stuff. It never occurs to you that you may be reaping what you are dishing out to your employer as well!

Let's now focus on the freer spirits. You get to take all the risks and live on the edge, worry senseless, feel extreme joy when you have a breakthrough and enjoy the financial benefits as well. You may even get to yell once in a while and get away with it. Heck, misery hath no better companion than an entrepreneur! Don't kid yourself, the many success stories, are a fraction of the many failure stories. Your spouse might even divorce you in the end, because you are no good. It goes on and on, but then there is an opening -- and I would rather live for the possibility of an opening than be stuck, with a predictable end, that's just me.

You will never be rich, unless you possibly steal or are extremely crafty, or do both. Or if you're just plain lucky. It makes sense, right? Someone else is taking all the risk and stress, shouldn't they be taking the rewards too? It is funny to hear workers complain about how well their boss is doing, etc. when you go home at the end of the day and sleep so soundly without so much as a thought about where your salary will come from at the end of the month -- when it is clear that business is not doing so well. It could be magic for all you care, really. For those who ever tried to invest, one of the first lessons you get is that the higher the risk, the higher the potential rewards. If your life's plan is to remain peaceful, then stop eyeing that gorgeous house, or car, or long vacation in the Bahamas. Alas, I must say though, that this is not the case in many third world countries. I have seen salaried workers with little salaries build huge homes, sometimes, bigger than their employer's. You just wonder.

The best is having the opportunity to fail. I love that feeling, call me weird! It's akin to the process of birthing, excuse my pun -- or is it metaphor? You have an idea, you test and develop it, you go through all the pains of nurturing and growing it, and alas, many a time, it just might die, even after you have given it all the nutrition and care. And when it does die, the pain and fall through is harsh. You have invested your resources, and possibly the resources of others. How do you explain and live with this?

But as sick as it sounds, I'd rather risk having it and giving it all that love, and have it die, than not to have the opportunity to love it at all. I would rather love and lose. I don't believe that life is a cruise, and I don't believe that life is necessarily meant to be easy -- not that I am a glutton for pain. It can't be particularly easy for those who may decide to just take a job, either! And so, if it is difficult anyway, why not just take it up a notch?

Certainly, I recognize that not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. You need to be a special breed of crazy, maybe -- or maybe just plain stupid. You have to have nine lives. Be a minimalist, at least in the beginning. Take other people's crap and keep going back. Be very, very nice and friendly towards failure. Depend on the income of your friends who have a secure job to see you through your worst times. Many will roll their eyes when they see you coming, and you pray they do it mentally, at least to spare you the sight. It does take a special breed... I think God makes them when he is tired! And so he fails to give them a healthy dose of fear and the need for self-preservation.