My favorite retelling of the Revolutionary War comes from the musical “Hamilton”. In it, the titular main character bravely fights for independence, but also muses about what freedom will mean for the colonies, and how they will structure their country and face their economic woes. After serving under General Washington, he goes on to become the first Secretary of the Treasury and to put into place systems and structures which are still integral parts of our government today.

I believe that this can parallel the experience many people go through when they leave employment to found their own companies. There are those who fight valiantly for independence, but fail to plan for a replacement system. There are others who are more cautious and plan so carefully that they never take that first step to leave the security of their current situation. (You could say they “throw away their shot”.) Success is found by those who can both dare to leave the harbor, but who also know where they’re sailing.

Rebellion vs. Revolution

american flagThe word “rebellion” brings to mind images of sullen teenagers, instinctively acting out against their status quo. For a disgruntled employee dreaming of business ownership, it can be chafing against inane workplace rules, or simply longing to leave the 9 to 5. However, it’s not enough to know you are displeased with your current situation; you have to have a vision of what you want to replace it with.

We’ve met plenty of people whom have a lofty dream of how they envision business ownership. (For some disastrous examples, see our article “Living a Lie: The Mistakes that Make Entrepreneurs Go Broke”.) We even had one would-be business owner tell us, “Oh, I don’t want to work. I’m going to hire other people to do the work, and then I’ll just travel or something.” Needless to say, that plan didn’t work out.

statue of libertyThe successful businesses are those whose owners have the spirit of revolution. It’s not just that they’re unhappy with their lot, but they clearly see how it, and their own small slice of their particular industry, could be better. These are the people who desire to “build a better mousetrap” with their company, and who aren’t afraid to put in the work to do so. We have successful clients who have invented new products or medical processes, but we also have those who have succeeded by coming up with ideas for local entertainment, or who have simply found a way to be the most effective attorney, or marketer, or even HVAC person in their field. And none of them are afraid of work; in fact, the most successful all embody attitudes of continuous improvement, both in themselves and in their companies.

If this 4th of July you find yourself pondering the plunge toward business ownership, examine where that desire is coming from. If you’re ready to start a revolution in your industry and in your life, build a plan for where you hope that path takes you, and a vision of what it looks like when you’ll get there.