Are you an Entrepreneur or an Employee?

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A large number of Entrepreneurs in the developing world have also been born as a result of fatigue, from slogging off for ungrateful Employers who didn’t appreciate them or where the Employees felt that, they had acquired enough experience and or expertise to go it alone. 

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Picking a career path and determining whether you want to chase your dreams as an Entrepreneur or as an Employee is never easy; especially in the developing world where Entrepreneurs in most part are created as a result of lack of employment opportunities. In other cases, moonlighting or the proverbial “side hustle,” might sometimes end up putting more bacon on the breakfast table, resulting in a successful business.

Before we debunk the terms Entrepreneur and Employee, it is important to put a disclaimer to the introduction above. A large number of Entrepreneurs in the developing world have also been born as a result of fatigue, from slogging off for ungrateful Employers who didn’t appreciate them or where the Employees felt that, they had acquired enough experience and or expertise to go it alone. We also have a category of Entrepreneurs who right from the start of their journey, decide that being employed is not an option for them. It can be that they want autonomy, have dreamt of some great high impact ideas that they would like to pursue or even where nurture took over – if a parent is/ was self-employed and they want to follow in that role models footsteps.

Looking at the two terms, Employment and Entrepreneurship, we loosely define Employment, as a relationship where a contract exists between an Employer and Employee. The Employer requires a number of tasks to be performed. These tasks are then packaged into a job that a person called the employee, performs for a fee that is a Salary paid bi-monthly or monthly depending on the contractual agreements. More often than not there are defined working hours for the Employee which tend to be determined as either a number of total working hours in a week or determined daily say from 8am to 5pm or similar variants thereof.

For the Entrepreneur, this person starts off a new business or takes over an existing business with the intention of improving upon it and takes on the risk of funding that business to achieve success. The contract of employment for the Entrepreneur is with them self, where they are their own boss and consider themselves, self-employed. The Entrepreneur is the owner of the business and is Employer and Employee. He may have other Employees working for him and as far as working hours are concerned, the Entrepreneur’s day is rarely defined by number of working hours. This person is always looking at ways to improve the business and is constantly innovating all day and sometimes well into the night, thinking out new ways to do things.    

For those looking to determine which option is best for them, there are a few questions to ask yourself. Questions like: - Are you prepared for the risk and lack of security that starting your own business venture comes with? Do you thrive under stressful circumstances and get excited by the pressure that such stress comes with? Are you ready to take on the costs of or seek through borrowing, for the funding of starting the venture or revitalizing an existing venture?

If you can answer in the affirmative to the questions above, then the Entrepreneurial journey might just be what the Doctor ordered for you. Before taking the leap however, make sure that you have thought out your idea well and where necessary spoken to professionals that would point you in the right direction. Something to note is that, building a business takes time and where your idea has not started generating income, it would be very unwise to jump out of your current job, if you are employed, just so that you can consider yourself an Entrepreneur. There are bodies in Kenya that are available to help you with the Entrepreneurial Journey as well as various incubation spaces if you are in a county like Nairobi.

So, you have now answered some questions that point you in the direction of the potential Entrepreneur. Before you take the dive, let us consider some of the character traits that Entrepreneurs have in common. Call this Test Two. 

In his article “Differences between Entrepreneurs and Employees”, Nathan Chan looks at what he considers the 8 main differentiators between the Two.


  • Entrepreneurs improves their skills, Employees improve their Weaknesses – He says that Entrepreneurs view focusing on weaknesses as futile whereas Employees are taught that weaknesses are bad and should be improved.
  • Entrepreneurs produce lousy work, Employees are perfectionists – Entrepreneurs thrive on lousy work because they have produced it. It’s better to create and fail than not to create at all.
  • Entrepreneurs say no to opportunities, Employees Embrace them – To quote Warren Buffet, “The difference between Successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say No to almost everything.”  Employees are afraid that a No Might mean they lose out on the next big break.
  • Entrepreneurs delegate, Employees DIY – the Entrepreneur knows his monetary value and will spend time doing what’s important that only they can do.
  • Entrepreneur’s Mono task, Employees Multi task – Studies have shown that it’s almost impossible to focus on more than one thing and do it right. So Entrepreneurs focus on doing just one thing right.
  • Entrepreneurs thrive on risk, Employees avoid it – Without risk there is no reward, is the credo.
  • Entrepreneurs believe in Seasons, Employees believe in Balance – Work life balance is every Employees coveted dream. Entrepreneurs know that in order to succeed one thing takes precedence over others.
  • Employees are threatened by smart people, Entrepreneurs hire them - Entrepreneurs know that without smart people their businesses will fail so they hire the smartest.

Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurial minds have their place in everyday businesses and are extremely valuable as Employees and here, I speak of the persons that are running a “side hustle.” And their value to an employer.

Are cost effective – because they already have the side hustle going, they will rarely be the persons at the HR Managers door asking for a pay rise. More often than not, they are the persons quickly content with their general emoluments because the side hustle is quickly providing for their lifestyle, is paying the bills and the only reason they are clinging to their job is that they still feel they have lots to learn or are happy with what they do and don’t see the need to run their ventures full time.

They throw away the rule book – they are constantly suggesting and pushing the envelope, to improve upon existing processes within their Employers business, to get things done more efficiently. The only risk here is where their value is not recognized and or harnessed, they quickly get frustrated and jump ship to start their own ventures and or seek new Employment opportunities. Guard Entrepreneurial minds with your life as a Business owner.

Often make good Managers – they quickly understand the value of their time and learn to delegate. They are also quick to communicate the dreams and aspirations of the business and transfer their knowledge to their team members. They tend to be rather sloppy and are not the perfectionist type. Their value is in getting ideas out and tested and the perfectionism is rather left to the “Employee type” who constantly pushes to cross every “t” and dot every “I,” because of the looming performance review.

So, if you are still trying to figure out where you fall and see characteristics that define you, then it’s probably time you started thinking about that jump onto the Entrepreneurs Band wagon. Remember that there is not a single business anywhere that was not started by an Entrepreneur or a bunch of Entrepreneurs. Some of these businesses started off in the most unlikely of places, “headquartered” in a garage space or even worse and are now Brands of repute, that make many a tongue wag with envy.  

In conclusion, I briefly want to delve into some mindsets switches from Employee to Employer or Entrepreneur by Maite Baron,  where it is suggested that this may well be the key determinant to success and talks about the mindset shift required. The Entrepreneur is responsible for all the decisions, both good and bad. They also have to hold long term and short term visions simultaneously and execute them. The Entrepreneur has to enjoy breaking the rules and constantly look at new ways to do things differently. After all, you cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. For the Love of the business, be objective. Employees can do the same task over and over again regardless of potential ways to improve the process just because they are in a comfort zone and already draw a salary.

However there are some key mindset shifts that are fundamental in my view; 


  • Feeling uncomfortable is the Entrepreneurs new comfort zone and he or she has to quickly learn to think outside the box, try new things, seize new opportunities and take calculated risks to get ahead.
  • Learning is a continuous journey and the Entrepreneur will have to learn new skills and quickly. In as much as they hire the sharpest brains, they have to learn and understand everything about the business. 
  • The Numbers don’t lie and this is a crucial part of the Entrepreneurial journey. It is imperative to understand where the numbers are going from cash flows to sales and know what the limits are so that decision making is easier

Robert Kimani is the President for Business Development (E.A) at Fuzu Ltd



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    OCHUMBA | March 01, 2017 18:49

    Entrepreneurs produce lousy work, Employees are perfectionists....constsntly battling with this, i gez i am partly both

    Brian | January 19, 2017 18:30


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