Starting Your Own Business

Job Mentality Versus Business Ownership Mentality

Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures

Business ownership is not for everyone. If it were, more and more people would become business owners and fewer people would be looking to work for business owners or companies. This article will summarize the differences between a business ownership mentality and a job mentality.

Most people if asked today whether or not they would like to take a shot at owning their own business would immediately say yes.

Job Mentality Versus Business Ownership Mentality

So why is it today we have more people looking for jobs than people looking to get into business? Simply because people inherently understand that business is not for everyone. It takes a certain type of person, mindset, work ethic, and commitment to build a business and take ownership of your own income.

The reality is that most people when given the option of doing something different versus sticking to what they are comfortable with will ninety-eight percent of the time stick with what they are most comfortable with. Unfortunately for most people what you're most comfortable with is most times not the most effective thing to be doing. The job market is currently not very good and doesn't look like improving in the near future. Most graduates today are not only competing with themselves but also with people who graduate the year before them who still don't have jobs.

Business ownership on the other hand has the potential to be one of the most rewarding things a person can do if they choose to develop the mentality for it. But the challenge is it takes a mentality and the only way to get the mentality is to associate with other business owners or just take the plunge and get your hands dirty. Here are some of the biggest differences between people who have a job mentality and people with a business ownership mentality.

Business owners think "outside the box"

One of the most important qualities of business owners is that they are very open-minded and are radical thinkers. They are always challenging the status quo and finding what most people would call "loop-holes" in the economy. Observe the masses and do the opposite is the battle-cry for the modern day entrepreneur. This takes a certain amount of courage and gall. The biggest reason why so many people are more comfortable with a job is because it is safer.

Now based on the state of the economy today I would argue that job security is not what it used to be, but for now let us presume having a job is less risky than owning a business. The challenge for most people to make the transition from employee to business owner is that they are used to making money by showing up to work and getting a paycheck. That is how they have been preconditioned to make money so any other form of creating income to them just doesn't make sense to even bother with.

Robert Kiyosaki has stated that he never pays his kids for doing any chores around the house because he doesn't want them getting "addicted" to one specific process or method of making money. Showing up to work and trading time for money believe it or not is just ONE way of creating income. Some people would point out that there are many more people working than are in business so why not just join the masses. This is correct. However, understand that just because a million people are doing the same thing doesn't make it the right thing to do! Business owner think very differently from employees. This explains why they have to hire employees to work for them. Get it?

Business owners are in business for more than just money

This is probably one of the things most people fail to understand about business owners and entrepreneurs. Money has never been the biggest motivator for people in the work force. Money pays the bills, puts food on the table, sends kids to school, and pays the mortgage, but it will not be a source of fulfillment and never will. Business owners end up going into business for themselves for a couple of different things. The most common ones are security, control of their time, lifestyle, efficiency and tax benefits.

For the very successful business owners their motivation is usually something that is emotional to them. It could be a dream or a goal they have for their life or maybe a vision for where they could see themselves ten or twenty years down the road. It could be to help people, contribute to research, give money to charity or just to help their parents retire. They work hard so they can better serve other people and that is probably why they end up being successful.

Business owners are not scared of failure; they embrace it

This should go without saying but business owners are very mentally tough. The nature of the job world is that there is very little room for failure. This is partly because if you make mistakes your supervisor also gets reprimanded for your inefficiency so it only makes sense that they take it out on you as well. What this tends to do is produce complacency in employees who would rather not push the envelope and get ridiculed for trying something different that didn't work. In business, however, you are taught to embrace failure as your friend. Success and failure are like Siamese twins; you can't get one without the other.

Business owners understand this and more likely to embrace mistakes and failures because no one else has to answer to them but themselves. Failing is also the only way to learn in business especially if you have no mentorship or coaching along the way. Thomas Edison when first attempting to invent the light bulb stated about his failed attempts that he had not failed, but just found 10,000 ways that won't work. That's ownership mentality. They understand the opposite of success is not failure, it's quitting.

Business owners are mentally tough and understand delayed gratification

This can be linked to the previous point about embracing failure as a friend. Business owners are in business for the long haul which is why the reward is even sweeter. The nature of any business is that profit is not something you should expect in the first two to five years. They do understand that if they can make it through the initial hump of failure than success is right around the corner. This once again goes back to the strong desire they have for getting into business.

Most people with a job mentality are very well-educated and as a result think that everything including making money should be complicated too. The truth is, however, that success in life is very simple. Anything you are consistent at long enough you will be successful at. Think about this for a second. We all know how to get six pack abs. If you don't, here's the formula: eat less and do sit-ups! The problem is none of us (well, most of us) never show up to the gym and stay away from fast food long enough to see the results we want. It takes commitment to do the work.

So the challenge wasn't in the knowledge but in the work ethic and consistency involved to get the result. The same goes for business. Business owners can go without getting paid a check for years just to get their business off the ground. Most employees couldn't handle that stress which is why they show up every day to work with the hope that they can get paid for their time put in.

Business owners know who to listen to

Business owners are very careful who or what they let into their heads. This is not to say that they are arrogant, but they understand their mind is the most important thing they have. Charlie "Tremendous" Jones is quoted as saying that "Who you will be in the next five years will be a culmination of two things: the people you associate with and the books you read". Most of us if we have a reading habit can control that half of the equation, but people are a little tougher. And usually, family and friends have the biggest influence on the way we think.

Most employees if you take a look at their family probably have parents that are also still working, their grandparents worked, their great-grandparents worked, their cousins, siblings, aunts, pets, EVERYBODY had or has a job. No wonder they think the way they do about creating income. If you also examine a business owner you will see that the family is made up of a variety of entrepreneurial minded people with maybe a few of them going into business for themselves.

Business owners understand that when it comes to making money, you cannot learn anything from someone who does not have what you want. If you are driven by financial independence and security, then taking advice from someone who is driven by benefits is not going to help you. Be careful who you listen to. As a rule of thumb take a look and see if they are in life where you want to be in the future. If the answer is no, then run!

Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to

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Do you think people are innately either owners or workers? To your mind, what's the difference between the two? We welcome all comments, questions and suggestions.

  • Lenora Timal posted on 12/16/2008
    Lenora Timal
    YES I really think that people are innately owners or workers. Everything starts in your mind and your mentality rules. People will even fight you or dislike you for trying to break them out of a rut- or pulling them away from the norm. I really feel entrepreneurs are born to Own, the thinking usually stems from childhood. You have to have courage and be bold and not be afraid to fail.
  • oliver posted on 1/4/2010
    Beautiful article... loved it. Wow, this site has amazing entrepreneur resources. I can't believe I didn't know about it before. Thanks for all the work and energy you obviously put into this site!

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