Entrepreneurship isn’t just for Side Gig Startups

Author: Zach Dilworth Tuesday July 13, 2021
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Opportunities exist all around us. Think about your local dry cleaner – there’s nothing revolutionary about it, but it’s a business run by an entrepreneur. How about the bakeshop? Lately, bakeries have been popping up online, across social media offering cakes, cookies and local delicacies.

There’s a lot of debate on whether you need a college education to become an entrepreneur. Think about it, there are a ton of successful entrepreneurs out there who had little to no education and yet the became huge. A great example of that is Daymond John who started one of the most successful fashion lines, FUBU and has become a global superstar on the hit series, Shark Tank.

Why is it that so many entrepreneurs do it without any college education?

Opportunity cost

Those without a college degree or a specialized skillset do not have the same job opportunities as those with it. Meaning, if you have a degree, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a much higher salary out of the gate. It’s not to say those who don’t have a degree cannot earn a lot, but without a specialized skillset or college degree, it’s unlikely. It’s much harder to walk away from a high salaried position to start a business with a much higher risk of failure.

Again, it’s not that all entrepreneurs don’t have a degree, but there is some truth about how opportunity cost affects the tradeoff between a full-time stable job and entrepreneurship. Better yet, those who took on debt while in school have student loans that prevent them from the flexibility of those who didn’t take on debt. There are plenty of Cinderella stories of how someone had no education and made it far bigger than those with degrees. However, what was their tradeoff? Did they give up a huge salary to start their businesses or were they an entrepreneur out of need?

Take a look back to the great recession. Unemployment in the US was this highest it had been in 30 years at 10%, and the government provided a basic payment for unemployment to help those stay afloat while looking for a new job. There were so few companies hiring and an enormous amount of applicants to every job at the same time. It was the storm that created the perfect environment for entrepreneurs to start working on their trade while having an income. Side gig startups became full-time jobs for entrepreneurs because it was almost impossible to find a job during that time.

Market Rate vs. Potential
Side gigs in 3rd world countries. Have you ever wanted to work abroad and earn a high salary? It’s not likely that they’re going to pay you in a US salary unless your highly specialized and in-demand – hence, the only way to make a real income is to produce your own income – entrepreneurship. Again, it’s a low trade-off so it’s a ripe environment for entrepreneurs. It’s much easier to become an entrepreneur when there’s no downside. Think about some of those engineers Facebook and Google that left an enormous salary of $300K+ to start a new business.

It’s not always about the money
Sometimes, it’s about doing what’s right for a social cause. Richard and Diane Nares started the Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF) after they lost their son to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. During the time Emilio was going through treatments, they experienced how difficult it was for less fortunate families to take their children to the hospital for treatment. The ENF foundation was created to help resolve that issue. They provide rides to and from treatment facilities for children with cancer.

Social Causes Drive Entrepreneurship
TOM’s was known for their social commitment and guarantee that for every pair of shoes sold, they would provide a pair to someone less fortunate in Africa. That sparked a social revolution where entrepreneurs adopted a similar approach to drive revenue and help a cause. Jenny Amaraneni started SOLO Eyewear with the same sort of idea. For every pair of sunglasses sold, SOLO provides cataract surgery to restore vision for the poor in less developed countries. In six years, they restored vision for over 10,000 people around the world. It’s amazing that a few companies changed consumer behavior and created a social responsibility revolution.

Breaking free from the chains
Sometimes, it’s just about freedom. If you’ve ever read the 4-hour workweek by Neil Ferris, he promotes establishing enough streams of income so you only need to work 4 hours per week to maintain the business. It opens up a world of opportunities to travel while earning a great income. When Jeff Oxford went to the Philippines, he was set on a mission to work 4 hours per week. He started up 180 Marketing and scaled his business for success. His business is booming and he’s traveling the globe. Hopefully, he’ll share his story with Side Gig Startup Entrepreneurs in the near future.

An Entrepreneur Out of Need
Across the globe, entrepreneurs sell trinkets and food just to put a roof over their head. It’s not about going big and making millions; for them, it’s just about staying alive. There’s no holidays or sick pay, it’s work or starve. On the other end, there are full-time workers who strive to make a little more here and there with their side gig startups.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. But for some, entrepreneurship is the only way.