Why smart ones don't want to be enterpreneur?

Michael Epstein Founder at Zap Technology

August 9th, 2015

There are many smart peoples who are employed. They have amazing ideas and the company they work for made lot of revenue on their talent. However, I just don't understand why these smart people who are so talented and revenue generating continue to work for a company than becoming a entrepreneur. I understand that being entrepreneur is about passion, idea, and execution but these guys who are (want a)preneur never take the plunge. 


 I am just curious to understand why the safety and stable income satisfies the smart ones? 

Did struggle to take a call to be a entrepreneur because of lack of instability?

Bruce Carlisle Leadership, Strategy, BizDev, Marketing, Fundraising

August 9th, 2015

As a smart guy who has been entrepreneurial and has started three companies, I will tell you there is a great deal to be said for the security of a high paying job. Startups typically require long periods of time without any source of income, the assumption of debt, the loss of health insurance, digging into retirement dollars, the chance, indeed the statistical likelihood of failure. If you have a department and admins and resources, it can be tough switching to a world where the only resource is you. Doing a startup, whether you are smart or dumb, requires an ability and desire to live on the edge for two to three years. If you don't like that, can't afford it or think the price to your family would be too high, you don't do it. All things I can completely respect. IMO. Bruce Carlisle. Bruce

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

August 9th, 2015

Being an entrepreneur is very risky - most startups fail. Most people who have good jobs will be better off financially than most entrepreneurs five years out. Obviously they won't be better off than the few outliers that you read about, but those are the vast minority.

Also many people don't have the skill set for entrepreneurship, and they'd prefer to work in a situation where they can do what they're best at most of the time.

And entrepreneurs are thinking about work 24/7. Some crazy people (myself among them) like this. But others like being able to leave work at work and have other things to do with their time.

The good news is if everyone thought like us entrepreneurs, we'd have no one to hire.

Grant Sernick Co-Founder at LoyolyPRO

August 10th, 2015

The premise of the question is that if you are smart, you should become an entrepreneur.  Being smart, that is, will allow you to guide a concept or idea to a successful business.

I think fundamentally, that assertion is flawed.  There is a very weak correlation between being smart, and being a great business builder (although it does help to be smart, if you are starting a business).  

Starting a business is about marshalling the (limited) resources that you have into delivering value to clients, who in turn will give you money.  This is more about being tenacious, a hard worker, and adaptable than it is about being smart.  

In fact, being smart probably works against becoming a entrepreneur.  In most cases, taking a high paying job is much better (in the long run) than it is starting your own business.  Most businesses fail...which results in losing lots of money, either yours or your investors.  We are all somewhat coloured by the survivor bias, where we see all the successes and think we can replicate it.  Indeed, if you were able to, you would see financial reward.  But for the majority of entrepreneurs (at least in the tech space), it will result in failure.  

You therefore need to be somewhat crazy to face the daunting task of becoming an entrepreneur...

Tim Dunn Owner, Earth Nurture

August 11th, 2015

While it is true that smarter people are more likely than less intelligent people to choose to make decisions that are independent, it is because smarter people are more likely to make successful non-conformist decisions than less intelligent people.  For people of lower intelligence, conformity produces better outcomes than non-conformity, because they are less capable of making good independent choices than those who can successfully make non-conformist decisions.

In psychology, traits such as risk aversion are usually described as being a part of temperament, and they are at least partly genetic.  Some people are innately risk adverse, even if they are very intelligent.


August 9th, 2015

That comes down to a persons comfort level with regards to risk: risk averse or a risk taker... 

Some people just thrive better in a more stable environment and are not comfortable being on their own and having to answer to themselves. Others hate being a cog in the machine. There is no right or wrong only what makes a person happy...

And yes there are those that are scared of the first step so much that they will only strike out on their own out of necessity, such as your example, when fired...

Fear is a huge deciding factor. Most people make decisions based on fear as opposed to the best possible outcome of a given situation... 

Phil Sklar Co-Founder and CEO at National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum

August 10th, 2015

I see it like this: Most potential entrepreneurs start by climbing the corporate hill (aka ladder) and see that they're able to navigate it and move up with little to moderate effort. They get rewarded regardless of whether the company is making money or not. There's very little risk and significant reward, especially if they get to the top of the hill. It's not easy to get to the top of the hill, but most people are happy to get to the upper half and stay there for a while.

Now across from the hill is a giant mountain (think Mt. Everest). These smart, entrepreneurial people on the hill see this mountain constantly and think to themselves "why the heck would I go from this easy hill to that steep mountain which is treacherous and difficult to navigate". A select few with unique ideas or passion for something see how rewarding the mountain can be and decide to jump off the hill and try climbing the mountain. Most won't succeed at climbing the mountain, and they can go back to climbing the hill if they fail. However, the risks prohibit most people from even seriously thinking about climbing the mountain.

Michael Moon Co-Founder at StartupReady.Net

August 9th, 2015

 There are several dimensions to your question.

Let's see if we can pull out atell them from the "giant hairball" of holding a job, ambition, and career pivots.

1. Self-identity: Where you see yourself  in 3 years? How an individual answers that reveals a lot about who they are and they see themselves.  In my individual and group work with executives exploring  their career options, I have found extraordinary levels of myopia and limited-horizon thinking.

2.  Imagination: If you were to quickly sketch an ideal working environment and career accomplishments, what would be the particulars of that desired future state?  Again, I am surprised about how fuzzy and unconsidered most replies are to that question.  When I dig a little deeper, inquiring as to how they feel about the future, most report being perplexed, afraid, or deeply unsettled about their future well-being. So of course when they imagine a future on that baseline emotion, they must edit heavily the products of their imagination:  panic, bread, and loss of all the find dear.

3.  Unfinished business:  At what point in your career if you decide to play it safe, taking only easy shots on goal? This one is a lot more complex. It will reflect how good they were and the accolades that followed ead career victory.  It will reflect the battles,  setbacks, resentment, and regrets that they still carry with them on a day-to-day basis. Mind you, most of us carry a lot of history; we also get pretty good about ignoring the herd of elephant in our psychic rooms. Most of us have not yet conducted a thorough recapitulation of these high and low moments, identifying our God-given gifts, genius talents, core values, and  optimal social contexts--mostly hidden by our resentments and regrets .

4.  Different ground rules: What are the ground rules and core protocols for winning in a chaotic, fast-paced, and consequential start up and buy the what are the ground rules and core protocols for winning in a chaotic, fast-paced, consequential  environment? Most corporate professionals learned that winning entails playing by the rules, the first one is that it's game and it has rules. Start ups  do not have rules. Their cofounders make them up as they go along and change them on what seems to be an arbitrary basis - whatever works.  For carpet professionals, this is a no-win situation.

5.  Best options in the Startup Economy: Given your talents, ambitions, and social capital, what a my best options for pivoting my career into an equity-gaining situation of a startup?  Well, it gets pretty interesting at this point. Most corporate professionals are not a good fit until the start up gets the size of about 50 people or more. And that could be much higher, given the culture of a particular startup. Only most good equity positions are gone by the time the startup hires its 20th person. Again in our individual and group work, we have found that corporate professionals must not only retool themselves (skills, attitudes and referenceable results), they must repackage them to meet very concrete but ubarticulated needs of start of cofounders seeking passion, cultural fit,  invincible resourcefulness, and the humility of an apprentice.

I suspect there are at least four  and maybe as many as seven more factors such as I ennumerated above. 


There are some 15 million corporate professionals who will be forced by technology-driven circumstance to execute a career pivot, confronting the fact that their industry has been disrupted, career track truncated, few replacement-job openings for their particular talents, and global competition for the remaining jobs.

Executing a career pivot starts with the determination that you have no better option.

This embraces a core insight about human motivation: human beings will not take constructive action until the current state becomes too dangerous for inaction.

So you need not worry about your friend. It will only get worse from this point forward. He is a lobster in a slowly warming pot of water. It is not a matter of if, only a matter of when and how parboiled is willing to become!

Sean Hurley Optimize Your Dream.

August 9th, 2015

It's all about risk tolerance; financial and otherwise. The definition of entrepreneur is ones willingness to risk the loss of capital to start a business. 

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

August 10th, 2015

Michael, your making two assumptions that are leading to your confusion about the people you described.... 1. people who have great ideas/talent necessarily want to monetize on it and take the talent as far as it can go, and 2. all people define happiness and life goals in terms of their work/professional lives. Just because you have a talent, doesn't mean you want to dedicate your life to it. If it makes your work day easier, great... keep making money for the company you work for and keep your job. Perhaps the job isn't their main focus in life/happiness. Perhaps their happiness comes from something else and they want a stable job so that they can keep their happiness away from that job going. 

Not everyone defines success by their professional career. Not everyone defines happiness by being the best they can be professionally. As long as they are happy, these smart people you describe are successful. And that is the most useful type of intelligence I can understand.

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

August 10th, 2015

Smart people recognize that while hard work, intelligence and persistence are important to enduring business success, initial success is still often dominated by luck, timing, contacts, capital (wealth) and things that have nothing to do with being smart. Smart people recognize that being an entrepreneur is like buying a lottery ticket: the most likely out come is that you will lose everything you put at risk, and there is a very small chance that you'll get a big payback. And being smart won't get you the winning ticket. So, you should never risk more than you can lose and happily mark up to something you did for fun. So if dealing with uncertainty isn't even fun, don't even bother. Just as different people have different interest levels in gambling , so does their interest in entrepreneuring. Scott McGregor, mcgregor94086@me.com, (408) 505-4123 Sent from my iPhone