The dichotomy between entrepreneur and employee has always been a difficult one to pinpoint. The dynamics are complex, and what at first glance “seems” simple, turns out rarely to be so.
The frustration of long workweeks; the increase in workload and what is perceived as a lack of freedom with the absence of decision power, makes employees long for that corner office and the big chair in the meeting room.
That power, the status, the economic comfort, comes at a high price. Many assume that it is worth it; many think that they can handle the pressure of making those decisions, thinking that they can manage that power, but is being an employer truly what it looks like? Or does the weight of those responsibilities make being an entrepreneur not worth it?
The myopic vision of an employee is based on the hours that they are giving to the company on a daily basis, while an entrepreneur is constantly working, constantly worrying for each step taken, and which steps will come after; in a constant struggle to define and anticipate the future.
Taking your destiny into your own hands is daunting, a feat not for the faint of heart. Most employees were not involved in the initial struggle; never had to invest out of their own pocket; never had to worry that the money invested might never give the desired returns; no employee ever had to worry about other employees’ future and their families, or the financial situation that each one of them is into.
On average, 220 Canadian companies are founded every day (Fundsquire 2021), which is around 95,000 companies in a year. In the first couple of years, startups seem to have a high success rate, but once the third year hits, there is a 34% failure rate and a 57.1% failure rate after ten years. CBInsights studies say that businesses fail for a handful of reasons: there was no market or need for their product; they ran out of cash; they didn’t have the right team running their business; they were outcompeted; they failed to be relevant or they never upgrade their business with new technology; rarely offering improved services; products remaining stagnant, among many other issues.
These statistics are not exactly encouraging or inviting to the bright minds of today. So, what makes a company flourish? What makes entrepreneurship grow despite the challenges? Most importantly, how is starting a business better than working under an already established company?
We asked Paul Donofrio, CEO and President of Canadian Trucking Warranty, these questions to find out the makes and the means of a prospering startup business.
One of the biggest concerns young entrepreneurs have is where to start—is experience necessary or helpful when creating entrepreneurship? Donofrio answered: “I remember as a little boy, I used to deliver newspapers for a large newspaper company. That experience instilled a different mindset towards work.” Alongside family experience in starting businesses, Paul had one skill that anybody can achieve, which is dedication and a hard work ethic. Two of the most essential and attainable qualities for an entrepreneur to have. Experience—though is a fundamental skill and knowledge that cannot be left behind—is something that can be acquired further down the road, but where to start is all in the idea and how that idea can change and improve people’s lives.
The next step would be to find inspiration and a niche area to develop a market in. Paul quotes that he was inspired to step into the commercial driving industry because “the women and men in the trucking industry deserve to have protection on their livelihoods. They work very hard to deliver products and goods that we need and are the backbone of our economy. Without their hard work, the Canadian way of life couldn’t exist.”
Now that you’ve found a market, the hardest part is developing. Despite the pride and honour of having your own business, challenges are bound to come and test your creativity and resilience. Donofrio states; “I don’t look at anything as a challenge, I look at everything as an opportunity”. Instead of seeing an obstacle as a threat, drive forward with a positive attitude of how it could develop you and your company to grow.
When these hardships arise, and the weight of the decisions is all on your shoulders as well as the livelihood of your employees, you will start wondering if being an entrepreneur is really worth it. Paul believes it is, “Being an entrepreneur gives me the freedom to enjoy every day to the fullest and make the decisions I want to make. It’s the ultimate form of both personal and financial freedom”. He also states: “The amount of great women and men I have met along this journey has changed my entire social circle, and the interesting people I interact with daily”. Not only has his social environment changed for the better because of his entrepreneurship, but he has also taken a valuable lesson from his business into his everyday life: “Always be kind in giving to others. You never know what struggles or hurdles that person has had to overcome to get to where they are today.”
If starting your own business is not the path for you, work for a startup—or if the opportunity arises—purchase some shares of the company, so your journey as an entrepreneur won’t be as hard as it truly is. Not many companies sell their shares, but there are occasions where having an injection of cash can boost productivity or expand the business; making the owners know that you are willing to invest in the company gives a positive message that you believe in the company and that you are willing to go the extra mile to be a part of that success story.
Paul states: “CTW always welcomes great, caring, and smart individuals. Get in contact with us if you’re interested in a real opportunity for growth, and to be able to make an actual impact within your work environment. There is no ceiling on the potential income you can make working for CTW.”
At the end of the day, being an entrepreneur is no piece of cake. Coming home after a good day’s work, whether you are the owner or the team member that is part of that success is a rewarding feeling. Both entrepreneurs and employees are part of a team, success or failure—in many cases—is attributable to both sides. The entrepreneur needs to make decisions knowing that it will affect the company and everyone employed; the employees need to go to work believing in the company, just as if it’s their own. Each decision needs to be made by walking in each other’s shoes.
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