“Should a scanner run their own business?” Revisited

Apologies for the lack of posts this week, there are a couple of reasons. The first and main reason is that my work situation has changed in a way that sees me away from home for about 11 hours each day, which while it is only about 1 hour more than before, that extra hour is taking more of a toll on my energy and state of mind than I expected it to. My job has also gotten more complex and thus stressful, and thus tiring.

The only reason, which ties in this this, is that I have come up with a new business idea, and most of my available free time this week was spent communicating that idea to various professional friends and trusted contacts – both for feedback but also advice.

I am very fortunate to know some very smart, insightful and talented people who are helping advise me with my idea. But it was a conversation with one of them that brought me back to this question, with a new answer.

Last time I speculated that running a business definitely requires a variety of skills, skills I didn’t used to possess (when I tried the first time), and possibly not even all of which do I currently possess. However, there is another angle to this question.

I’ve had a lot of ideas, few of them could be called “viable”. In the last year or two, I’ve been more frustrated because I felt like I had the skills, the potential to do more than I was doing, I just didn’t have a marketable idea. Some people have a plethora of marketable ideas, but not the skills to execute.

One thing I have had for years however, is a desire, a feeling, that I was capable of more, I just had a hard time finding ways to demonstrate it.

As I was talking to one of my friends about my idea, she said she envied me, as she (like most people, including myself) was told to get a “safe” job, and just “dabble in your spare time”. I’ve tried that, and every time, I’ve ended up bored, unfulfilled and frustrated. I keep coming back to that notion “I’m capable of more than this, why can’t anyone see that who is in a position to use my talents?”. And so inevitably I’ve always gone back to the drawing board. Because hey, I know *I* can use those talents!

Last year I started my podcast, to try and answer the question “what the heck should I be doing that I can really invest myself into and feel good about it?”. There was no good (read: “easy”) answer. I talked to several friends, many of whom also felt similarly, that they had no choice but to get a job that paid the bills and find “fulfillment” – whatever that was – elsewhere and on their own time.

This idea that you’re not supposed to enjoy your job (or at least that that’s not the point and shouldn’t be your primary motivation), I hear parroted so often, and it’s crazy to me. It almost seems like “I didn’t get to hold out for a job I like so why should you be so lucky?”. But that’s just arguably punishing someone else for a decision you may regret. What does it hurt to (realistically) encourage them?

I don’t necessarily believe that everyone can or will find their calling, their dream job, but I think so few people really even try, and that’s depressing. Of course the way our society is set up, it certainly isn’t easy. You kind of have to be a bit crazy to really push for a satisfying answer long enough to get one. I think I’m one of those crazy people, not by choice, but because I have this feeling inside. This feeling that, no matter how much or how long I’ve tried to push against it, it always wins, it always says “no, you’re capable of more, you can’t settle, it would be a travesty”.

And once I finally stumbled upon my current idea and knew that it was viable, and got the same feedback from my trusted peers, I knew that there was no choice but to go for it. It’s going to take time, but now I know that I will only have a “boss” for so much longer. Now my biggest obstacle is my impatience. I can picture the whole thing, in its final state, all tiers and wings, doing what it is intended to do. But that mental picture could well be 5, 10, 20 years off. I have no idea.

The best part is that my idea incorporates everything I like to do, including helping people. Mainly helping other people like myself, who have that feeling but are (or in my case, were) lost, confused and unsure.

In the meantime, I have no other way to avoid becoming homeless other than to keep doing my current job (for which I no longer have any real passion or emotional investment), via a sense of duty as a responsible, professional, mature adult, to not simply just stop trying.

I ended the last post with an anecdote from someone about what can go wrong and how it can turn out to not be as good or positive as you expect, and my risk-averse side decided that for me, at the time, that was the answer. I feel a lot more confident and upbeat now, and while I can’t get into too many details yet (so much is still up in the air), I’m very excited.

While I’m here, here’s a new resource I was just shown, Bloomberg’s “Game Changers” series (for inspiration):
http://www.bloomberg.com/video/game-changers/

So, should a scanner run their own business? If they have the skills, a viable idea, and that feeling that they just can’t escape that tells them they can and should be doing more, then why not?

Now I have to go and execute my idea and not fail so that I can be an example of my own advice not being bunk.

Care to share your thoughts?