I've been thinking for a while about what it means to be an entrepreneur. Is it about wanting to found a company and actually doing it? Is it about founding lots of companies over time? Is it about wanting to do the next big thing over and over again?
I think yes, depends and yes. But I believe having the entrepreneurial bug also affects one very basic yet crucial aspect of our professional lives: ourselves. Hence the concept of a new book I recently found about and am eager to read, called The Start-Up Of You (co-authored by the LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman, along with Ben Casnocha).
Now, check out this wonderful distinction they made between finding a job and managing a career:
Finding a job is a one-time thing. You do it, then you’re done. When people look for a job, they tend to reach out to their network, research new opportunities, update their professional profile, and bone up on skill development.
Managing your career involves doing a similar set of activities: Strengthening your network. Studying industry changes. Sizing up the competitive landscape. Looking for big new opportunities.
One key difference? Managing your career is an all-the-time thing. You do it to be better at the job you already have, and to be in a better competitive position when it comes time to change jobs in the future.
I think this is the cornerstone of what my generation has to do no matter what: to see themselves as their own investment, as their own life project, as something only they can accomplish and no one else. See yourself as a company, and don't be afraid to say "I'm CEO, bitch". Choose your path, define a plan and follow it.
In 2012, there's no such thing as "do it, then you're done"; steady jobs are old news. In fact, you should find a way to feel comfortable knowing you will not stick around for too long in any job you'll ever have. Embrace it, ignore the job, focus on the career, have a long-term plan. Don't aim low. Be the CEO and founder of yourself, and kick your industry's ass.