Even if you don’t leave your current job, you will gain greatly from learning what it means to be an entrepreneur and taking steps to become one. What’s an entrepreneur? Classically, someone who starts and runs a business.

Whether or not you actually wind up starting a business, you will become a better employee. And you will be creating the possibility of a “Plan B” for employment, should life circumstances change for the worse. Emerson wrote, “There comes a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature and none but he knows what that is not which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

When you accept the captaincy of the little ship of your life, you are simply acknowledging a role that is already yours. You don’t have to push anyone aside to assume the position. And doing so moves you immediately from victim to victor. As Goethe put it,” Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

So here’s my simple recommendation: Take on starting your own business as a project. You don’t have to actually do it — although I suspect you will. The exercise alone will teach you a great deal and it will reignite your self-reliance and confidence.

Opportunities to consider:
• Become a consultant in your profession. You can be highly paid for your the work you know how to do. And maybe even enjoy.
• Turn your hobby into a business. This is a rich field. You can sell products and services to other hobbyists. Or your hobby may equip you to market to professionals in the field.
• Do something entirely new. Perhaps you’ve had a secret hankering for opening a store. For getting in on the “green revolution.” For helping people reduce water consumption by turning their lawns into rock gardens.
• Learn about Internet marketing. The Internet has given us a “gold rush” like the one in California in the 1840s, only thousands of times bigger, with no end in sight. You can sell your own products and services including reports, e-books, podcasts, teleseminars, physical books, courses, or live events. You can also sell other people’s products and services — everything you can imagine, and much you probably haven’t. Examples: information, physical products, advertising, services — just start Googling, and you’ll be astonished.

Why do it? Reasons might include: Add to or replace your income; gain self-satisfaction; build confidence; acquire new skills; become your own employer.

Why not do it? Reasons might include: It can be risky, success is not guaranteed; you’ll have to learn new things, you’re already stressed out and short of sleep, you don’t want the responsibility, you were raised to believe there is something not nice about owning your own business; you like the constraints of your job and your life, and don’t want to rock the boat.

Many engineering professionals have an aversion to marketing. Well, get over it. There are good, honorable, and helpful forms of marketing, as well as the kinds you’ve come to hate. Don’t take my word for it; do the research.

— Joel Orr

Questions? Comments? Write to me: joel@joelorrcoaching.com

Edited by Leslie Gordon