July 19, 2013 06:00 AM

Now could be the time to unleash your entrepreneurial spirit.

Now could be the time to unleash your entrepreneurial spirit. By Zachary Barker

Friday, July 19, 2013

It has been referred to as the itch that cannot be scratched, as well as the calling you cannot deny. For those of us afflicted by the "e" word, we can appreciate the sleepless nights, occasional anxiety attacks and the sweaty-palm moments endured in the pursuit of "the big sale."  

For those of us stricken with the "e" word - better known as Entrepreneurism - we know that being an entrepreneur is a calling. Some of us bravely jumped in early and don't know another way, while many danced the dance and worked for someone else for years before finally taking the self-trusting leap of faith to do it our own way.


What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Is it all a high-risk leveraging game with 90 percent failure rates - where people make millions or crash into bankruptcy? Yes, it is. And no, it definitely is not.

Entrepreneurship is the commitment of your heart, mind and soul to finding the best ways to develop, produce, deliver, manage and support your product or service to your clients. Executing these systems well results in finding riches and other rewards; however, those seeking shortcuts and stopgaps will find frustration and economic strife. It is not about "risking it all" to make a million dollars. For many, it's as simple as "risking a little" to find a better way to deliver something of value, while fulfilling a personal need to take a leadership role.


Often, non-entrepreneurs think entrepreneurs are crazy for taking such a risk with our employment and income. Usually, I chuckle at their concern. Why giggle at this rational and logical concern? Simple: When talking about a traditional job, you must consider that your role is defined as a specific small portion of a much larger solution where you may have little influence over goals or initiatives. In the traditional work world, there are consequences if you don't meet sales goals, or if costs rise too much, or if staff is under-utilized. Someone, maybe you, might lose a job.

When you're the business owner, you don't report to a senior manager who can fire you (although, every client is essentially your boss now). Corporate management cannot change strategy and decide to bring in a new support team. You are less likely to be replaced by a robot or outsourced. You, the entrepreneur, are the final decision-maker - owning every success and being responsible for every shortcoming.

Simply put, there is no greater job security than to be responsible for the whole system, preferably with your own staff to back you up.


What if I want to be an entrepreneur, but I can't leave my job? Risk - the main concern - is a calculated measurement of resource management. Too risky today? A typical entrepreneur would respond, "There is a solution." Take the opportunity to start playing the role of an entrepreneur right now. Find unique solutions to your restrictions on time, money, infrastructure and manpower through groups, peers, outsourcing, fundraising and more.

Become engaged in groups such as the Opportunity Machine, the Small Business Development Center, Acadiana Entrepreneur Group, the705 and others where you can meet, learn and collaborate on your ideas.


The playwright Eugene Ionesco famously stated, "It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question."  

Maybe the best question you could ask is: "When will the time be right to live out my calling?"

Maybe, just maybe, it is today. Now, let's go get stuff done!

Zachary Barker is executive director of the Opportunity Machine, a LEDA-backed initiative that focuses on cultivating Lafayette's entrepreneurial and technology-based industries. Barker is also president and owner of Acadiana Sports Leagues and president of the705, a local young leaders group. Contact him at zach@opportunitymachine.org.

Also in Off the Charts

Read the Flipping Paper!