Can You Be A Cubicle Entrepreneur?

Can you be a cubicle entrepreneur? So you want to be an entrepreneur. Outstanding. Do you have a vision? A business plan? The funds to realistically put a plan into action? If you answered yes to all of these questions – this article isn’t for you – if you have the ways and means, seriously, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and start doing.

This post is dedicated to the wannabees – all of us out there who want to break free from the corporate world and live the startup life but don’t know where to begin. You and I represent the creative minds that will be without a doubt the next innovators of the world – but as new college graduates faced with the worst economic recession in decades, we’re held back by the realm of reality – a place that tells us to be cautious and think realistically – take any job you can get to pay the bills and live a mundane (albeit secure) life.

You Don’t Have to be an Entrepreneur to be Entrepreneurial

A Gen Y army is building of individuals who are tired of settling, who aren’t willing to take any job for the sake of having a job, and as a result won’t touch a ‘corporate’ work environment with a ten foot pole. While our initiative and pride are commendable, our overwhelming sense of personal entitlement might actually doing more harm than good. We allow ourselves to become closed-minded to what might end up being a great opportunity because it doesn’t fit into our perfect career scenario (I’m just as guilty of this as the rest of you). But speaking from experience, there ARE opportunities out there that may not seem ideal on the surface, but when approached with an open mind, might very well be something you can totally fall in love with – jobs that give you the potential to think like an entrepreneur, without drafting the business plan and taking out the business loan yourself.

That’s the take-away here. Always maintain an open mind. Don’t sell yourself short, never settle – because 9 time out of 10 you don’t have to. I’m a living breathing testament that finding a (good) job is possible, even in this recession. But if you would have told me I would have ended up in web marketing for a healthcare provider two months ago, back when I was buying and selling billboards in Nashville, I would have said you’re crazy. But for the first time in my life, I have a job that I wake up every day feeling good about – with a workload I’m happy to take home with me because it’s a position that allows and demands ownership and accountability.

Find a job that gives you the freedom to be you – a company who will trust you to take all of the responsibility and run with it. Somewhere that will be asking for YOUR opinion on day one. Go above and beyond: Draft execution plans, develop new programs, grab your 7am Starbucks and go in early, stay late, work from home. Own you’re title – and over time you’ll realize you’re not working FOR someone, you’re working with them. Learn and absorb the knowledge from those who have come before you.

Embrace the mantra of an entrepreneur and apply it to your nine to five. Besides, that future Fortune 500 you’ve been wanting to start will be there when you’re ready.


44 Responses
  • Marcos Salazar Reply

    “Always maintain an open mind.” – That may be the single most important rule to keep in mind after college. After graduation we are exposed to so many different ideas and experiences, and it is vital that we take what we learn and integrate it into our vision of who we are and who we want to become. It’s that form of evolution that allows us to narrow down more and more the things we are passionate about. And even if we don’t like your current job, you can always learn something to improve yourself, and possibly your work situation, if you are proactive about it. Good post.

    • Matt Reply

      I agree that every job experience, both good and bad – can and should be a learning experience. Love it or hate it, value can be derived from everything we do. Sometimes, you’ll actually learn much more from the bad experiences. When you approach every position as a growth opportunity, for better or worse, you’re time invested will never be a waste.

  • Marcos Salazar Reply

    “Always maintain an open mind.” – That may be the single most important rule to keep in mind after college. After graduation we are exposed to so many different ideas and experiences, and it is vital that we take what we learn and integrate it into our vision of who we are and who we want to become. It’s that form of evolution that allows us to narrow down more and more the things we are passionate about. And even if we don’t like your current job, you can always learn something to improve yourself, and possibly your work situation, if you are proactive about it. Good post.

    • Matt Reply

      I agree that every job experience, both good and bad – can and should be a learning experience. Love it or hate it, value can be derived from everything we do. Sometimes, you’ll actually learn much more from the bad experiences. When you approach every position as a growth opportunity, for better or worse, you’re time invested will never be a waste.

  • Preston Reply

    I think you should write these kinds of “break free of mental barriers and work for YOU” post every Monday. It’s a good way to start the week.

    I think personally I fall somewhere in between cubicle entrepreneur and self standing one, but I’m not sure because I’m still in the ‘recently graduated’ transition and haven’t quite landed yet. But this gives me good insight about what kinds of terms I want to make decisions on in the near future.

    My favorite line in this post says it all-
    Own you’re title – and over time you’ll realize you’re not working FOR someone, you’re working with them.

    • Matt Reply

      A lot of readers here can relate to your situation Preston – being a recent grad and in that entrepreneur/non entrepreneur bubble. Wanting to take the leap but not knowing how or which direction to go. I’ll have to keep in mind that these inspirational ‘your job doesn’t suck’ posts are most effective on Mondays.

  • Preston Reply

    I think you should write these kinds of “break free of mental barriers and work for YOU” post every Monday. It’s a good way to start the week.

    I think personally I fall somewhere in between cubicle entrepreneur and self standing one, but I’m not sure because I’m still in the ‘recently graduated’ transition and haven’t quite landed yet. But this gives me good insight about what kinds of terms I want to make decisions on in the near future.

    My favorite line in this post says it all-
    Own you’re title – and over time you’ll realize you’re not working FOR someone, you’re working with them.

    • Matt Reply

      A lot of readers here can relate to your situation Preston – being a recent grad and in that entrepreneur/non entrepreneur bubble. Wanting to take the leap but not knowing how or which direction to go. I’ll have to keep in mind that these inspirational ‘your job doesn’t suck’ posts are most effective on Mondays.

  • Valerie M Reply

    Hi, Matt. I loved this post … very encouraging.

    I think having an open mind is extremely important. It should be a requirement for living … at least for living a life of happiness … no matter what you do, how old you are, where you work, or who you’re with. Know yourself, be open minded, and follow your own path.

    • Matt Reply

      Open minded applies to all facets of life, as you said. In everything I do, I really make an effort to keep an open mind and approach a situation from all possible angles. Even here on this blog, I openly welcome everyone’s opinions. If you think I’m totally wrong, let’s chat and bounce some ideas off one another – odds are, but the time were through “arguing” we’ll both have gained a new perspective on things. The praise and accolades are great (and much appreciated) but my goal is to really challenge your thoughts and hopefully ‘open your mind’ to new ways of thinking.

  • Valerie M Reply

    Hi, Matt. I loved this post … very encouraging.

    I think having an open mind is extremely important. It should be a requirement for living … at least for living a life of happiness … no matter what you do, how old you are, where you work, or who you’re with. Know yourself, be open minded, and follow your own path.

    • Matt Reply

      Open minded applies to all facets of life, as you said. In everything I do, I really make an effort to keep an open mind and approach a situation from all possible angles. Even here on this blog, I openly welcome everyone’s opinions. If you think I’m totally wrong, let’s chat and bounce some ideas off one another – odds are, but the time were through “arguing” we’ll both have gained a new perspective on things. The praise and accolades are great (and much appreciated) but my goal is to really challenge your thoughts and hopefully ‘open your mind’ to new ways of thinking.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    I think the most important part to remember is that the only limits you have are those you set for yourself. Don’t use your job as an excuse or your lack of skills or anything like that. As you said, have an open mind and never settle.

    Glad to hear you’re having a good time here in Chicago, Matt, and we definitely need to meet up soon!

    • Matt Reply

      100% agree – A job doesn’t define you – you define the work that you do. A positive attitude can go a long way – which is easier said than done depending on your title. Approaching things with an open mind is the first step.

      Things have been great so far – I didn’t think it was possible to love work until now (not that I don’t still love getting away from it). It’s amazing how fast the workday goes when you’re busy and engrossed in work you actually give a damn about. Lunch soon – must do sir.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    I think the most important part to remember is that the only limits you have are those you set for yourself. Don’t use your job as an excuse or your lack of skills or anything like that. As you said, have an open mind and never settle.

    Glad to hear you’re having a good time here in Chicago, Matt, and we definitely need to meet up soon!

    • Matt Reply

      100% agree – A job doesn’t define you – you define the work that you do. A positive attitude can go a long way – which is easier said than done depending on your title. Approaching things with an open mind is the first step.

      Things have been great so far – I didn’t think it was possible to love work until now (not that I don’t still love getting away from it). It’s amazing how fast the workday goes when you’re busy and engrossed in work you actually give a damn about. Lunch soon – must do sir.

  • Dan Erwin Reply

    Absolutely. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial. And you’d better learn to be entrepreneurial. But freedom to be you? That’s an earned right at most companies. So earn your keep and you’ll get free.

    I have a blog on entrepreneurialism from a slightly different perspective. http://tinyurl.com/qryczf

    • Matt Reply

      I love this:

      “In this new world, the ability to adapt to any situation and imagine new situations–the entrepreneurial task–will be rewarded. You will also need to be adventurous. Curiosity, the drive to know new things, and the fuel of science and innovation is an imperative.”

      Spot on Dan. When you think like an entrepreneur – innovative, responsible, and so on – you will be rewarded, and as a result in time you’ll become irreplaceable. Be bold, go the extra mile, and dare to take risks.

  • Dan Erwin Reply

    Absolutely. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial. And you’d better learn to be entrepreneurial. But freedom to be you? That’s an earned right at most companies. So earn your keep and you’ll get free.

    I have a blog on entrepreneurialism from a slightly different perspective. http://tinyurl.com/qryczf

    • Matt Reply

      I love this:

      “In this new world, the ability to adapt to any situation and imagine new situations–the entrepreneurial task–will be rewarded. You will also need to be adventurous. Curiosity, the drive to know new things, and the fuel of science and innovation is an imperative.”

      Spot on Dan. When you think like an entrepreneur – innovative, responsible, and so on – you will be rewarded, and as a result in time you’ll become irreplaceable. Be bold, go the extra mile, and dare to take risks.

  • Akhila Reply

    I absolutely loved this post because I completely agree! You don’t HAVE to be an entrepreneur to be innovative or to own what you’re working on. You just have to be passionate about your work and work even harder to bring in your own original ideas and more so, implement them. That gives you passion, and a sense of ownership over your work – even at a 9 to 5.

    • Matt Reply

      Is it easy to be passionate in everything you do? No, of course not – but it is possible to approach every situation with an active and engaging state of mind. Take ownership and run with it, sometimes you just have to dive in and challenge yourself to try new things.

  • Akhila Reply

    I absolutely loved this post because I completely agree! You don’t HAVE to be an entrepreneur to be innovative or to own what you’re working on. You just have to be passionate about your work and work even harder to bring in your own original ideas and more so, implement them. That gives you passion, and a sense of ownership over your work – even at a 9 to 5.

    • Matt Reply

      Is it easy to be passionate in everything you do? No, of course not – but it is possible to approach every situation with an active and engaging state of mind. Take ownership and run with it, sometimes you just have to dive in and challenge yourself to try new things.

  • Patrick Ambron Reply

    Keep an open mind and don’t turn down opportunities because they aren’t your dream job. I completely agree. However, I would also urge individuals to strongly consider if there is anything they can actually learn in a position before taking it. If this market has taught us anything, it’s this: No job is permanent. To be successful, you need to acquire and hone as much valuable, marketable skill as possible. I like this idea of “owning your title.” Even if you aren’t sitting at your dream desk, you can still take advantage of many positions and milk it for as much as its worth. HOWEVER, some positions are dead ends. Do not take these just because they were your first offer.

    • Matt Reply

      There are a lot of dead end gigs out there – without a doubt, but as you pointed out, far too often, many of us write off a job as worthless before giving it a change, or opening our minds to what can possibly be learned, even if it is a negative situation overall. There have been several instances during my brief tenure in the career world that I’ve learned what I DO NOT want to do – which is sometimes even more important than finding what you love.

  • Patrick Ambron Reply

    Keep an open mind and don’t turn down opportunities because they aren’t your dream job. I completely agree. However, I would also urge individuals to strongly consider if there is anything they can actually learn in a position before taking it. If this market has taught us anything, it’s this: No job is permanent. To be successful, you need to acquire and hone as much valuable, marketable skill as possible. I like this idea of “owning your title.” Even if you aren’t sitting at your dream desk, you can still take advantage of many positions and milk it for as much as its worth. HOWEVER, some positions are dead ends. Do not take these just because they were your first offer.

    • Matt Reply

      There are a lot of dead end gigs out there – without a doubt, but as you pointed out, far too often, many of us write off a job as worthless before giving it a change, or opening our minds to what can possibly be learned, even if it is a negative situation overall. There have been several instances during my brief tenure in the career world that I’ve learned what I DO NOT want to do – which is sometimes even more important than finding what you love.

  • Elisa Reply

    I have a confession…I show up for every job that I have with the notion that I’m kind of a big deal. :)

    I am cautious in my career because I do realize that in the grand scheme of the working force I am a pawn that can easily be replaced (at this point) but I have approached every job I have since I was 21 years old with a entrepeneurial mind. What projects can I take on and own? What things can I do to make sure you remember my name? How can I invest myself in the success of this company?

    While this has managed to irk and create animosity with some of my colleagues who didn’t have that same drive, it has also helped me to get to the position I’m in today. I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you are willing to put in the time, effort, energy and passion into ANY job you can make it your own!

    • Elisa Reply

      I just couldn’t refrain…look at me…I’m a face, not a bullhorn! My migration to the world of WordPress is starting!

    • Matt Reply

      Great example Elisa – I was/am the same way – I was obviously turned down by several companies, ones that didn’t mesh with my own personal culture and belief – but through all the dead ends – I remained confident that I was doing the right and would not allow myself to give up. As they say, patience is a virtue.

      And welcome to phase one of your WordPress transition. Glad to see a face instead of the masked man. If you need help moving the blog over to WordPress let me know- I’m happy you help.

  • Elisa Reply

    I have a confession…I show up for every job that I have with the notion that I’m kind of a big deal. :)

    I am cautious in my career because I do realize that in the grand scheme of the working force I am a pawn that can easily be replaced (at this point) but I have approached every job I have since I was 21 years old with a entrepeneurial mind. What projects can I take on and own? What things can I do to make sure you remember my name? How can I invest myself in the success of this company?

    While this has managed to irk and create animosity with some of my colleagues who didn’t have that same drive, it has also helped me to get to the position I’m in today. I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you are willing to put in the time, effort, energy and passion into ANY job you can make it your own!

    • Elisa Reply

      I just couldn’t refrain…look at me…I’m a face, not a bullhorn! My migration to the world of WordPress is starting!

    • Matt Reply

      Great example Elisa – I was/am the same way – I was obviously turned down by several companies, ones that didn’t mesh with my own personal culture and belief – but through all the dead ends – I remained confident that I was doing the right and would not allow myself to give up. As they say, patience is a virtue.

      And welcome to phase one of your WordPress transition. Glad to see a face instead of the masked man. If you need help moving the blog over to WordPress let me know- I’m happy you help.

  • Marko Teräs Reply

    A great post Matt, really. It’s so funny how synchronicity works. I happened to pop into ‘you’ through twitter.com/monicaobrien and had never heard about this blog before. So strange and funny! :)

    I’m currently going through these same things and thinking how to make my, and some of my friends life better, more fun and more sunny. Thanks for this great post – It gives me hope, that there are more people who try to act and think more positively! Could it be possible to establish a global network of positively thinking people so we could make things more nice? :)

    For the end, I have a great quote by E. B. White:
    “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”

    • Matt Reply

      Haha, great quote Marko – and thank you for coming by and sharing some thoughts. Monica and I are good friends (we also do a podcast together – http://www.aftertheboompodcast.com – that’s worth checking out). I am behind your mission of establishing a global network of positive thinking – as Monica points out in her latest post – it’s about time that we start gathering around to support one another, rather than putting each others passions and ideas to shame and constantly competing with one another.

      Hope you’ll become a regular reader Marko! Cheers!

  • Marko Teräs Reply

    A great post Matt, really. It’s so funny how synchronicity works. I happened to pop into ‘you’ through twitter.com/monicaobrien and had never heard about this blog before. So strange and funny! :)

    I’m currently going through these same things and thinking how to make my, and some of my friends life better, more fun and more sunny. Thanks for this great post – It gives me hope, that there are more people who try to act and think more positively! Could it be possible to establish a global network of positively thinking people so we could make things more nice? :)

    For the end, I have a great quote by E. B. White:
    “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”

    • Matt Reply

      Haha, great quote Marko – and thank you for coming by and sharing some thoughts. Monica and I are good friends (we also do a podcast together – http://www.aftertheboompodcast.com – that’s worth checking out). I am behind your mission of establishing a global network of positive thinking – as Monica points out in her latest post – it’s about time that we start gathering around to support one another, rather than putting each others passions and ideas to shame and constantly competing with one another.

      Hope you’ll become a regular reader Marko! Cheers!

  • Pritesh Reply

    Matt:

    Nice post. As always, you dropped a question and it kept me thinking. Here is my two cents:

    What I believe is you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to behave like one. If you are having a job, you can still practice entrepreneurship at work. Like:

    - If you want to work from home on Friday, you have to draft a plan for your manager and convince him/her to agree on it. Take up this chance and consider it as of you are an entrepreneur and marketing your service with your plan, initial draft, pros and cons for the company and yourself.

    - If you have to upgrade your skills thru offline courses and your company does not agree to pay, I would say take this chance and pay it from your own pocket. If you do not improve your skills which may give you returns later on, how would you improve your products or service with your own money when you become an entrepreneur?

    - If you do not like your job, try to change it and apply to companies which fit to your experience and knowledge. Take up this chance and consider it as of you are an entrepreneur and consider your experience as your product and your knowledge as your service. Try to sell these to other companies and see if you are able to. See what it takes to sell your self and learn what needs to done to make it easier.

    All I am trying to say is if you are unable to do above mentioned tasks simply because you are having a 9-to-5 job, I don’t consider you as an entrepreneur. You do not need to design a product or sell your services just to become an entrepreneur. You can actually do and learn what it takes to become an entrepreneur while you do your regular job. If you success in it, you can easily be successful when you actually have your own product or sell your service.

    Cheers,
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    • Matt Reply

      Agreed Pritesh – you can certainly live an entrepreneurial life style without being an entrepreneur. That ‘mindset’ can be applied to the daily grind. And honestly – when you take that approach, you’ll end up being more personally fulfilled as you ‘claim ownership’ for your daily work. Thanks, as always, for the great thoughts Pritesh!

  • Pritesh Reply

    Matt:

    Nice post. As always, you dropped a question and it kept me thinking. Here is my two cents:

    What I believe is you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to behave like one. If you are having a job, you can still practice entrepreneurship at work. Like:

    - If you want to work from home on Friday, you have to draft a plan for your manager and convince him/her to agree on it. Take up this chance and consider it as of you are an entrepreneur and marketing your service with your plan, initial draft, pros and cons for the company and yourself.

    - If you have to upgrade your skills thru offline courses and your company does not agree to pay, I would say take this chance and pay it from your own pocket. If you do not improve your skills which may give you returns later on, how would you improve your products or service with your own money when you become an entrepreneur?

    - If you do not like your job, try to change it and apply to companies which fit to your experience and knowledge. Take up this chance and consider it as of you are an entrepreneur and consider your experience as your product and your knowledge as your service. Try to sell these to other companies and see if you are able to. See what it takes to sell your self and learn what needs to done to make it easier.

    All I am trying to say is if you are unable to do above mentioned tasks simply because you are having a 9-to-5 job, I don’t consider you as an entrepreneur. You do not need to design a product or sell your services just to become an entrepreneur. You can actually do and learn what it takes to become an entrepreneur while you do your regular job. If you success in it, you can easily be successful when you actually have your own product or sell your service.

    Cheers,
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    • Matt Reply

      Agreed Pritesh – you can certainly live an entrepreneurial life style without being an entrepreneur. That ‘mindset’ can be applied to the daily grind. And honestly – when you take that approach, you’ll end up being more personally fulfilled as you ‘claim ownership’ for your daily work. Thanks, as always, for the great thoughts Pritesh!

  • Dan Erwin Reply

    Matt: “Many of us write off a job as worthless.. . .” Right on. Career search in the 21st century is going to take on a new perspective. I just finished a couple blogs on that very issue. And what you’re finding is going to jive very much with the new perspective. Check out this blog: http://tinyurl.com/mkvlg5

  • Dan Erwin Reply

    Matt: “Many of us write off a job as worthless.. . .” Right on. Career search in the 21st century is going to take on a new perspective. I just finished a couple blogs on that very issue. And what you’re finding is going to jive very much with the new perspective. Check out this blog: http://tinyurl.com/mkvlg5

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