03/21/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated May 21, 2013

Work Hard, Be Happy

I know it's a trite thing to say, but if you're doing what you love, it just doesn't feel like work. I talk with fellow entrepreneurs daily, and I can tell you they work more intensely, and with greater dedication, than folks with 'job-jobs.' Yet with few exceptions they have a spring in their step and certainly don't watch their hours.


If the business is your own, even the drudgery work -- and there's never a shortage of that -- can be strangely exhilarating. As an entrepreneur, you always have a sense that what you decide and what you do have a direct impact on the business. What you do every day moves the needle.

So when people ask me almost daily whether they should consider an entrepreneurial career path, I've found myself increasingly answering a question with questions.

What makes you happy? (This is often jarring to young job-seekers, particularly MBA-types and engineers. They look at me as if I've got two heads.)

Is your dream to go wherever the job takes you and make the most of it... or would you -- and your significant other if you have one -- like to choose where you live based on proximity to family, friends, recreational opportunities, and perhaps a cool city?

Would you like to build a reliable source of income for life... or would you like to depend, for your security, on the to-be-determined stream of 10 to 20 employers most people are likely to have over the course of their careers?

Would you like to love what you do, or alternatively, feel as if all your hard work is for a paycheck, and for building someone else's wealth?

Now, entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, but -- can we talk? -- it's not as if we're living back in the 1950s and you can expect to come out of school, get a job in a big organization and retire from there with pension 35 to 40 years later.

Many entrepreneurs I know start out building something 'on the side' while keeping their day job for the time being, seeing how things work out before making the leap. For those who do make the leap to focusing on their business full-time, the majority start out simply being solopreneurs. Many of those discover they're able to make a nice living in that mode working for themselves.

And it doesn't have to be sexy, Silicon Valley-esque to be the real deal. For every entrepreneur who's an app developer or software architect, you'll find another hundred in pursuits ranging from cartoonist to cabinet-maker, equipment renter to event planner, trainer to test-prep coach, jazz musician to juice maker, dog hotelier to dressmaker, landscaper to luthier.

Some stay solo, while some, as they grow organically, hire in contractors and eventually full-time employees. Still others launch with the intention to scale rapidly. There's no one correct formula. But one thing you'll consistently find is more laughs per day. These are lighter souls.