Carol Roth asks, “Is entrepreneurship worth it…for YOU?”

If you haven’t read Carol Roth’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation, and have any notions of starting (or continuing with) your own business, stop reading this post and buy it at the link above pronto. I devoured this book, a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller, for many reasons and thought it to be the only real, honest, raw look at business ownership out there. In a sea of “If you dream it, you can do it!” platitudes, Carol – business strategist, content creator & bestselling author –  unmasks the naked truth to entpreneurship and makes you ask yourself if a) it’s worth it for you and b) are you really cut out for this stuff?  Now if only someone would write a similar book on parenting. (PS, yes, that’s an Amazom Affiliate link above, in full disclosure)

For me, the book clarified what I want from my business (I now know I’m a “job business” and I’m cool with that). And it also confirmed many things I’ve always thought but never said out loud at networking functions.

Carol graciously agreed to answer some tough questions for you guys, so enjoy!

RS: Hi Carol and welcome. Please tell us what you hope people get out of reading your book?

CR: I hope that readers garner the tools to make better risk and reward tradeoffs in relation to their own professional and business goals.  It’s very easy to get seduced by sexy ideas, the appeal of working for yourself and the allure of business ownership, but there’s a huge difference between being an innovative entrepreneur and creating a job that you have to pay for. 

There’s no judgment in the book, just a framework to make sure that the opportunities you are pursuing have enough rewards to justify the risks, as well as make sure that they are supportive of your personal goals and objectives. 

It’s a book not only for those starting a new business, but for those who are overwhelmed or overworked (or both).  It’s an opportunity to re-assess your business model to see if you are spending your time, effort and money wisely and that you are on the path that will make you the most successful- whatever your definition of success is.

 RS: Some might say your book scares or discourages people from starting a business. Is that your intent, or are you simply trying to make sure they go in with eyes wide open?

 I am very pro-entrepreneurship, but to be successful you need to be the right person pursuing the right opportunity at the right time with the right resources.  So, clearly, there are some people who should never start a business, there are others who should delay starting a business and still others who need to re-evaluate the business model that they are pursuing. 

My mother started a gift basket company in the early 1980s. It was one of the first in the country.  However, the business model was set up as a job and wasn’t scalable. She could have tweaked that model and been very successful but she didn’t and ended up after 10 years of hard work making the equivalent of $4/hr.  Other gift basket companies have models that have created bona-fide 7 and 8 figure a year businesses. 

 I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying I am giving people the framework for making the best decisions for their own circumstances and goals, so that they have the best chance of being successful.  If you are discouraged after reading it, then it’s time to re-assess.  Sometimes, that is the right course of action.

RS: You talk a lot about the “job” of an entrepreneur, which is different from the job the person actually wants to do (i.e., photography, accounting, cupcake baking) What’s your theory on why many people think they can just launch a business merely doing the technical work they love to do (baking cupcakes, building client strategies, etc.)? Where’s the gap in their understanding?

CR: I liken it to marriage.  Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the wedding- the dress, the flowers, the band, etc-. but don’t give an iota of thought about the hard work it takes to make a marriage work and to live “happily ever after”.  The same applies here.  It’s much more interesting to think about the technical work that they love and not the other components that are required in running a business (and usually take up the majority of the entrepreneur’s time). Plus, the job of an entrepreneur has become increasingly more challenging in terms of the sheer number of tasks that they need to do.  New technologies that are meant to make life easier create a constant learning curve.  There’s some element of rose-colored glasses here and also a consistently widening gap, so to speak.

RS: Great analogy! I heard a retail business owner lament, “Wow!  Marketing is something I have to do on an ongoing basis! I’m never done.” No one would ever say this about keeping the books, or stocking inventory. Why do you think some business owners see Marketing as a one-time project and not an ongoing investment?

CR: Well, many entrepreneurs don’t even think about keeping their books, but I get what you are asking.  Marketing is something that many entrepreneurs don’t like to do and many don’t consider it something that they are very good at.  Plus, the intoxication of starting a business creates that business lust where you are so enamored with your project, you just assume everyone else will be as well.  It’s easy to forget just how competitive an environment there is and how much noise there is in the marketplace making it challenging to get customers attention.   You can have the best service or product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, your business won’t be successful.  Back to the marriage analogy, I think people prefer to cross stuff off the to-do list because there’s a sense of accomplishment.  Having to do tasks day in and day out is exhausting.  It’s true and it’s not sexy, so we don’t hear a lot about that in the media.

About Carol Roth:

Carol Roth is a business strategist, deal maker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She has helped her clients raise more than $1 billion in capital, complete more than $750 million worth of M&A transactions, secure high-profile licensing and partnership deals and create million dollar brand loyalty programs. Carol is a media contributor, appearing regularly on Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business, WGN TV Chicago and more. She was named a 2011 Top 100 Small Business Influencer and is a contributing blogger to outlets like The Huffington Post and Crain’s Chicago Business/Enterprise City. Carol is the only business strategist with a fashion doll made in her likeness. Oh, and go grab a free eBook 60 Low & No Cost PR & Marketing Strategies at Twitter: @CarolJSRoth


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