Entrepreneur – When do you actually become one?

I struggle with this question. I also struggle with the question “when do I make the plunge to be a full fledged entrepreneur?”

There is someone I think highly of in the rowing community – Tim Searles – who once said to me “what is your excuse, Alex?” And without lying to myself (or him), I didn’t have an answer. Awhile ago I would have said something like – Well Tim, the company isn’t big enough yet and I need time for it to grow. Or I would have said something like – Well, Tim, I have a child and I need to make sure she is taken care of. Truth is…the company won’t grow to the level I envision it until I am full time. Until I am able to dedicate all my time, energy and resources to the growth and expansion of Finish Line Shell Repair.

I’ve seen hundreds of boats go through the shop in the last year. We have brought on more help when needed. We have traveled halfway across the country to help a customer. And yet here I am…sitting at a desk, in an office I do not own, working a job that won’t lead me to major success. So am I an entrepreneur? Or am I simply pretending to be one?

I have the same risks an entrepreneur has – I invested my time, my own money, investors money, my family and friends – yet I still have a day job to help pay the bills. Acting like a safety net. Is the safety net the one thing stopping me from being the entrepreneur I want to be?

A close friend of mine – Tim Spell – has been running his successful business for more than 5 years now. More recently he rebranded the company as Open Water. Being his friend, I was lucky enough to watch the transition from a close distance. I was able to see him have the ups and downs of emotions. I was able to watch his company grow internally and reach a whole new level. He was watching it happen before his eyes. His reaction to key events was like watching a proud father watch his son or daughter win a competition for the first time or watching his son or daughter stand up for the first time!

He has been a role model for me the last few weeks. He has been an inspiration and has helped me make the decision to be a real entrepreneur on September 1st.