Re-thinking Entrepreneurship

After wrapping up Cogsy last year through an acquihire and voluntary liquidation (I shared the whole journey in great detail here), I found myself asking a similar question that I'd been wondering about on and off over the years: Who is Adii if Adii is not an entrepreneur?

The biggest part of me just wants to Adii, and I've realised that I have a testy relationship with labels.

Do I have some or even most characteristics associated with a typical entrepreneur? Yes.

Am I a dad? Well, yes, I'm a biological father to three kids. But describing me as a dad feels very limiting.

I can continue in that vein for any other labels that might be useful in describing who I am. My point is that I've never found a single label or word that completely describes me, and I wholeheartedly expect the same to be true for you.

My attachment to "entrepreneur," though, is a little harder to shake completely. This is possible because my work has been a huge component of my life, and in many ways, it was probably the first step to discovering so many other parts of me. So I'm back asking the same question.

Who is Adii if Adii is not an entrepreneur?

When I joined Automattic at the start of the year, part of my motivation was to figure out whether I could do meaningful and impactful work within a much larger organisation that I don't own or where I'm not the boss. In that context, I can then probably reframe that question to something like, "How do Adii's entrepreneurial traits show up in this role?"

First, I've learned that this line of inquiry is limited because it extends only to this role and my work. So, it ignores the greater consideration of what this means in the context of my life. (If you've read Life Profitability, you'll know that I believe work is just part of life.)

That first learning then unlocks a completely different perspective. One where - upon reflection - I've boiled down what it means to me to "be an entrepreneur". I realised that the "entrepreneur" label resulted from me doing things. The motivation for doing those things was not "to be an entrepreneur", though.

As I'm re-thinking entrepreneurship, I'd like to share an updated definition of what it means to me today:

  1. Entrepreneurship is about doing meaningful things. We attach meaning to many things, but I highly doubt that it is limited to making money or doing one thing (work) for 40 hours a week.
  2. The "way I work" is way more important than I thought. There is freedom in being flexible according to your definition and choosing with whom you want to work.
  3. Earning great money is inherently very rewarding, and at the very least, it is a pragmatic way to root our perspective in a broader reality (actual money is required to put food on the table). Earning too little money to live the life you desire is a problem. Earning more than you need to live your desired life doesn't automatically fix the first two things on this list (or many other challenges in life).