Should I Become an Entrepreneur?

Why do people become entrepreneurs? Some choose to go on the adventure. Some are thrust into it, as they are most able to lead a cause and movement. Others may feel that the job market is so bad, that they have few other viable options. People join the game of entrepreneurship and go on the adventures they do, for any number of reasons.

If you are considering becoming an arts entrepreneur or other type, come to know, at once, what your risk tolerance is. Entrepreneurship is a game of risk assumption and management. So, come to know your score. Rutgers has posted a great quiz to help you: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/riskquiz/

Answer the following questions:

  1. If you could create anything, regardless of its cost or difficulty to create, what would you create?
  2. If you could win an oscar for best short film by investing $50,000, would it be worth it? You’ll still have to create artistic excellence, but this money will help you hire a fundraiser and producer of considerable skills. How about $75,000? What about $100,000?
  3. If the creation of your business enabled you to truly make a living from your creativity and little else, would this make you happy? Might this lead you feel a sense of pride, of accomplishment, of meaning? Let’s call this “Happiness”.
  4. What value do you place upon great personal accomplishment? What is it worth to you? What would you be willing to put up as collateral? Collateral has to be some that is at least equal to the value you seek to gain. Everything in life has a price tag and you will have to pay yours. Greater the value, greater the price.
  5. Parents know that when they have a baby, that they will go long periods of time with little sleep. They will have to work incredibly hard, meeting the demands and needs of their child. Entrepreneurship is no different in this respect.
  6. In most movies we watch, our adventure hero goes into the unknown and faces push-back. They face obstacles that seem to test their very fabric, their abilities and stamina–who they are and what they can do. Our obstacles have a way, the longer we are in the game, of becoming larger and more complex. Are you willing to face recurring and ever more difficult obstacles, before reaching your goals?
  7. Want to be the driver of your own destiny? Meet destiny half way. Entrepreneurship enables you, as the creator, to create the environment and culture you choose. From how you design your space to the people you hire, you choose. But this sort of choice-making has a consequence. Spend too much and run out of resources or cash–then those you are employing and providing income for, might suffer. For most people, their primary income is what enables them to provide for themselves and possible family. When employing others, your employee and their family’s wellbeing is, in some measure, in your hands. If you succeed, so do your employees and collaborators. Are you willing to accept such responsibility?
  8. Are you willing to Lead?
  9. What is liberty? Liberty is self-sufficiency. Entrepreneurs don’t just identify opportunities; they create them. This typically requires a vast amount of work, discipline, a willingness to accept various impacts (push-back and failure). Liberty requires adaptability and an enormous willpower, which not only keeps us moving forward, but enables us to preserver. Perseverance is necessary as both artistic careers and entrepreneurial pursuits are largely about staying in the game–you have to play to win. If you could create anything, what thing or event would you be willing to sacrifice for? When one is creating at such scale, one will hit inevitable obstacles. What idea for you holds so much meaning, that personal desire is outweighed by meaning?
  10. In every hero adventure film, novel or play, our hero finds him or herself in despair. Despair is the Belly of the Beast. When we find ourselves in this place of no light, we are ensnarled in the nets of Fear and Doubt. Our job is to transform in this environment, to transform from this hardship and to reinvent in our process of emerging from this “beast’s belly” and to refocus on our pursuit. We each face valleys. They are an inevitable part of the journey. Are you willing to go through a process that will cause you to regularly confront both your Fear and Doubt? Are you willing to suffer? This sounds harsh, but when you are building something of considerable value or you are breaking molds or challenging the status quo with new and better ideas, you will really go through it. Change is by nature a violent process. The seed breaks to be come a tree. Eggs must be cracked to make an omelet. Scientists believe our universe to have been created from a big Bang! The process of change-making will be no different.

If you find that the value you seek is worth going through these barriers and thresholds of entrepreneurship, then go for it. If you find that you have answered most of these questions in a positive way, with only a little “great worry”, go for it. If you find, “Yikes! No thanks.”, then you have come to know this path is not for you and need no longer think about it for now. Now you know.

So, if you answered yes, what do you do next? You can either shirk a dream or you can start. Start now. Starting is the hardest part. Start so that you gain momentum. Upon gaining momentum, do not stop.

Jim Hart is the Director of the Arts Entrepreneurship Program at SMU and the Founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway. 

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