Is it Time to Dump Your Boss and Build Your Own Business?


Entrepreneur Scott Gerber wants you to forget the working 9:00-5:00 mentality that he calls “antiquated social conditioning” Instead he urges everyone, especially young people, to realize there is an alternative: starting your own business.

“All these career experts out there are still trying to tell us it’s time that you spruce up your resume or it’s time that you start your job search,” he said. “We are all being passive and saying ‘wait for things to happen and when you finally, maybe get a job put all your eggs in a basket you neither own or control.’ That does not make sense to me. I think we have to move toward that ‘create a job to keep a job’ mindset.”

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Gerber, CEO of media company Sizzle It , just penned a book called "Never Get a 'Real' Job," and he is serious when he says “real” jobs slowly kill your entrepreneurial ambitions.

“[They] suck the humanity from you, enticing you to put self-sufficiency on the backburner by luring you deeper into their pockets with promises of bonuses, extra vacation days, and cute-sounding perks like ‘Casual Fridays’,” he wrote in his book. (Gerber fails to mention that "real jobs" also include another perk commonly known as a regular paycheck.)

And while his language in the book incites a little humor, he isn’t kidding about getting people to start creating their own jobs.

This past October he created the Young Entrepreneur Council, an advocacy group whose mission is to be a go-to spot for ambitious folks hoping to find success in start-up land. The council, which currently has more than 80 business owners from around the U.S. ranging in age from 17 to 33, is gaining traction. Gerber is also in the midst of starting Gen Y Fund, a fund to help young entrepreneurs gain financing, an obviously crucial step in creating any startup.

But is Gerber’s message to “dump your boss, build your business” and skip corporate existence right--or even realistic?

Kare Anderson, CEO of media consultancy Say It Better, said the advice is good, but conditional. She suggested looking to a basic checklist to see whether you’re cut out for the role of entrepreneur.

“It’s more than just being audacious enough to try something,” she said. “You need to know what niche you’re going after. You need to have a deep personal relationship to that audience because that’s how you know it’s needed. Then you can literally see the audience you’d be serving,” she said.

Like many other seasoned small business owners, she also suggests getting prior experience either through an internship or a paid job, something Gerber doesn’t agree with.

In his book, Gerber discusses putting his first business on the backburner while he looked and applied for internships. When he got a position at an independent production company, he likened himself to an “indentured servant” who fetched coffee and did not get the opportunity to do the things the internship description had described. According to Gerber, he was fired from his internship soon after starting--and started his business soon after.

Todd Gabel, the CEO of ToddyGear, a company that makes fashionable screen-cleaner cloths for iPads, said he liked Gerber’s go-get-'em attitude--and relates to it.

Gabel, who has started several businesses, said the premise of creating your own job is both feasible and rewarding. But you need to focus, he warned.

“I started a company that was supposed to improve people’s credit,” he said. He explained that he had been on TV and radio shows trying to promote this step-by-step process, but he wasn’t making money.

“I began to panic and started branching out away in totally different directions from my core idea and didn’t focus.”

Gabel said the company ultimately failed and he learned from his mistake for the next company.

“I used that lesson and it has made me into the businessman I am today,” observed Gabel.

Gabel’s experience fits neatly into Gerber’s worldview, which can essentially be summed as ‘the greater the risk the greater the reward.’

“It doesn’t guarantee you anything because you are loyal to a company. So frankly, to me, I think it’s now time that we take the ‘risk’ of going into a business for ourselves,” he said.

Making it happen for you rather the big-league corporate “them” has a nice ring to it but it’s certainly not practical for everyone. Still, Gerber does have some useful advice – and his grand plan certainly sounds tempting.

What do you think?

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