Doctors: Are you employees, business owners or entrepreneurs?

Hate your job? You may be in the right profession, but the wrong position for your personality. Want to love your life and career? Step one: discover whether you are an employee, a business owner or an entrepreneur.

Here’s how to figure it out:

Employees are risk averse and like to know the rules. They thrive on structure and predictability. They need clear instructions and direction. Employees play it safe, and they value job security. Knowledge base is narrow. Motivation may vary from low to high, and they’re good at saying yes to the boss. Employees dislike failure, and many require praise to remain motivated. They tend to enjoy the social atmosphere at work. Employees are generally oriented toward self and family. A common phrase from an employee is: “Thank God it’s Friday!”

Employees watch the clock. If they work nine to five, they show up at nine and at 4:59 p.m., they’re heading toward the door. Employees love holidays and vacations because they get time off to hang out with family and friends. They know how to relax.

Business owners are risk tolerant and have a healthy respect for rules. They enjoy structure and predictability. Knowledge base is narrow. Motivation is higher than employees. Business owners are good with boundaries and can say no when necessary. Orientation is toward serving the community. Business owners are calculated, steady and goal oriented. They choose a known or existing product or service like a hair salon or medical clinic (versus a completely new and innovative product or service like a flying golf cart). Business owners can, therefore, predict and manage risks. Business owners are often sentimental and attached to their business. They often launch their business because they’re tired of having a boss. They desire more autonomy and creativity so they can control their lives and improve the product or service they deliver. Business owners may or may not care about making a lot more money than an employee, though they must be profit-driven to remain solvent.

Entrepreneurs love taking crazy and unknown risks. They hate rules, structure and predictability — and may become easily bored in a routine or “rut.” They are highly self-motivated. Knowledge base is wide, and they know how to set boundaries (great at saying no). Entrepreneurs have a global orientation and may be heard saying things such as, “I will change the world.” Entrepreneurs seem a little crazy, so family and friends worry about them. They are visionary and may be thinking decades ahead of what most people are thinking. Their plans may or may not come to fruition in their lifetime, yet they feel invincible. They obsess and hyper-focus and are great at monotasking. They’re relentless and can tolerate being lonely and misunderstood. Entrepreneurs are often working on a completely novel product or service — an innovation.

Entrepreneurs embrace failure because they are learning something new and fun. Entrepreneurs are motivated by desire and not fear. [Note: 90 percent of people are motivated primarily by fear]. Entrepreneurs tend to accomplish a lot yet they are not perfectionists (because that would just slow them down). They’re passion-driven more than profit-driven. Some don’t even care about money. Entrepreneurs love holidays so they can be alone while their family and friends go off to picnics and parties. They love working!

Does any of this sound familiar? Are you starting to recognize where you fit in? Please realize there’s a continuum between all three categories. Maybe you’re a “rebellious employee” or a “cautious entrepreneur.” What do you think?

In summary, if you are an employee by nature then you probably shouldn’t quit your day job and start your own business. Meanwhile, an entrepreneur would suck as an employee and would likely be written up for being disruptive. I’ve narrowly escaped this hundreds of times. I wish someone would have helped me understand that I’m an entrepreneur and not some oddball earlier in my life. Would have saved me (and my employers) a lot of frustration! Shouldn’t they teach this stuff in high school?

Pamela Wible pioneered the community-designed ideal medical clinic and blogs at Ideal Medical Care. She is the author of Physician Suicide Letters — Answered and Pet Goats and Pap Smears. Watch her TEDx talk, How to Get Naked with Your Doctor. She hosts the physician retreat, Live Your Dream, to help her colleagues heal from grief and reclaim their lives and careers.

Image credit: Pamela Wible

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