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Observations on changing hats from being an organization man to being an entrepreneurial man. Hats courtesy of The Attic. Photo by Binky Ragon.

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Bureaucrats vs Entrepreneurs

by Phil Houseal
June 19, 2013


Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

After 20 years of working in the public education sector, I am stepping back into entrepreneurial mode, pursuing writing and public relations full time once again.

Over my career, I have hopped back and forth and back between self-employment, government employment, private sector employment, and even a few bouts of non-employment. They all have their upsides and downsides. But as I venture out into the scary and exciting world of business once again, I am acutely aware of the differences between “working for someone else” and “working for yourself.”

Here are some of the simplistic differences I have observed while being a bureaucrat and being an entrepreneur:

As a bureaucrat, you wake up every morning wondering what problems will find you.
As an entrepreneur, you wake up every morning wondering what opportunities you will find.

As a bureaucrat, sitting in meetings is considered doing your work.
As an entrepreneur, sitting in meetings is an interruption of your work.

As a bureaucrat, your day ends at 5 p.m.
As an entrepreneur, your day never ends.

As a bureaucrat, working harder has no relation to compensation.
As an entrepreneur, you work harder.

As a bureaucrat, everyone fights over who gets credit.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t qualify for credit.

As a bureaucrat, hours are something to fill.
As an entrepreneur, hours are something to use.

As a bureaucrat, you go to conferences with titles like Risk Management.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t go to conferences.

As a bureaucrat, you stop doing something when it’s good enough.
As an entrepreneur, it’s never good enough.

As a bureaucrat, you get rewarded with fancier titles.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t care what they call you, just that they call you.

As a bureaucrat, I had a wall covered with 50 awards and certificates.
As an entrepreneur, I don’t have a wall.

As a bureaucrat, writing was my hobby.
As an entrepreneur, writing is my job.

As a bureaucrat, you have to answer to a boss.
As an entrepreneur, you have to answer to everyone, because everyone is your boss.

There is a saying that when you are self-employed, you only work half time: It’s up to you which 12 hours of the day you choose. I’m still trying to keep it down to 12 hours.

But so far it’s a great adventure. So to my fellow bureaucrats, here’s a tip of the hat for all the unrecognized work you do.

And to all of my new entrepreneurial friends and associates: Call me!