In the workplace as in many parts of life, I have found that there’s a simple distinction that guides what I tell many a new entrepreneur into their first startup. This distinction is conformity versus discipline. Being an employee requires that the individual conforms to someone else’s directions. Day by day activities are directed by someone else. Results are beget from following structures set up by someone else… and at the end of the day, or a 40 hour workweek, many times the employee may step away from work, leaving behind whatever results have been achieved, and thinking about other things.
The entrepreneur has a different scenario. Many times there are no structures that have been set up by anyone else, requiring the entrepreneur to set them up. It takes discipline to set the directions that a startup will go. It takes discipline to get up in the morning, especially when demotivated because of present results, to go at it again. It takes discipline at the end of the day to somehow quiet the voices of undone task, doing one’s best to mentally walk away from work that needs to be completed for that day’s rest. It takes discipline to not allow success to go to one’s head, but instead, maintain a humble approach that keeps the entrepreneur’s eyes open for the next opportunity, or the next threat.
Either way, choosing the path of conformity or discipline, there is a choice that must be made, and a willingness to pay the price of that choice.