Entrepreneurship Rationalizations

1/10/2004 9:14:02 PM

Entrepreneurship Rationalizations

After writing the last few posts about entrepreneurship, I offer some of my own rationalizations--maybe valid or invalid--for being an entrepreneur.

I don't really feel that I would develop to my potential if I were to stay as employee, unless I made some noteworthy achievement working as part of the company with its resources, but, often there is limited choice as to the projects I am assigned to, or limited reward or credit for accomplishments I do achieve. My own chances for advancement up the corporate hierarchy are mitigated by my weak communication skills.

Some other issues concern me. Income is largely a function of your job. A person, who becomes a doctor or lawyer from a modest school with minimum effort, can actually make several times the income of a very accomplished developer. Developers just don't make half-a-million a year--unless they have their own software companies. Microsoft hired away Anders Hjelberg, inventor of C# and top of the totem pole, from Borland, at an initial salary of $200K a year, according to a lawsuit Borland filed against Microsoft. (Note: this was prior to Microsoft's compensation reform which bumped salaries 50%.) The six-figure malpractice insurance bill, doctors now face, is more than most developers make. At my ten-year Harvard reunion, I was impressed that most of my classmates made well into the six-figures, until I noticed that the survey showed they were also all of the same occupational variety--doctors, lawyers, bankers. It's not the school; it's the job, stupid! The survey also indicated that over half the class has experienced being fired at least once. My other observation is that often high-earning doctors or lawyers are actually entrepreneurs with their own businesses, albeit with a well-established market.

I am not actually concerned with money as much as I am concerned with my independence and my freedom to work on tasks that I am interested in. But, income is still a barometer by which you and others view your success, even if wealth is not a main motivator in your life. There are zones, where the actual value of your wealth doesn't matter, just the magnitude, <100K, <200K, <500, <1M, <10M, >10M. One zone dictates that you have to work to live, another zone allows you to retire with the same level of income as regular employees, and the last zone means you never have to ask what things cost.

As my father and sister are both doctors, and my brother may soon be an investment banker, I am under perpetual pressure to catch up. There's also no satisfaction in knowing that your standard of living is worse than when you grew up or worse than your younger siblings.

Entrepreneurship is not too different from going to a professional school. It's often called the "school of hard knocks." Take a few years just like medical school, spend a bundle of money on product development and mistakes, just like tuition. You just need to plan it out accordingly; unfortunately, entrepreneurship loans are not as free-flowing as educational loans, but you do get tax benefits. Hopefully, after the education, you'll have a high-paying job and be looking down at the corporate ladder; you can skip the low-pay and long hours of the 6-year residency period after medical school. That's how I look at it--as a continuation of my MBA business program.

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My name is Wesner Moise. I am a software entrepreneur developing revolutionary AI desktop applications. I worked as a software engineer in Microsoft Excel group for six years during the 1990s. I worked on PivotTables and wrote the most lines of code in Excel 97-- about 10 times the median developer. I have a Harvard BA in applied math/computer science and a UCLA MBA in technology entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society, a 99.9 percentile high-IQ society.

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