Are you an employee, business owner, or entrepreneur?

Entrepreneur? Pamela Wible

Are you (by nature) an employee, a business owner, or an entrepreneur? Listen to this podcast to find out now:

Hate your job? You may be in the right profession, but 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 pm 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—a new innovation. Entrepreneurs embrace failure because they are learning something new and fun. Entrepreneurs are motivated by desire and not fear. [Note: 90% 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!

Entrepreneur, Business Owner, Employee
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?

You’ve got to listen to the podcast to hear all sorts of wild examples of employees, business owners, and entrepreneurs I’ve met in my lifetime:

So what are you? I’d love to know. Leave your crazy story below.

Want to launch your ideal clinic?  Join our retreatteleseminar, or fast track course.

Pamela Wible, M.D., is author of Pet Goats & Pap Smears and Physician Suicide Letters—Answered. View her TED talks How to get naked with your doctor and Why doctors kill themselves. She’d love to hear from you. Contact Dr. Wible here.

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41 comments on “Are you an employee, business owner, or entrepreneur?
  1. Meredith Jaye (Wible) Addison RN, MSN, CEN, FAEN says:

    I am like “The Little Red Hen”… I found something which I thought could be developed, and which I felt strongly NEEDED to be developed… but the responses from many of the folks on all sides were…. “don’t rock the boat”… “It is just FINE like it is”… “this is about BUSINESS” (THAT one got me… when we are talking about people’s lives) so I just scratched around on my own, looking for folks who would align WITH my goals for a seamless, strong chain of survival literally from the rural grassroots to the global level in Trauma Systems Development… and you know!? We got it! Getting better all the time…. and YES… it WAS about “Business… JUST like in the George C. Scott version of Dickens’ Christmas Carol… “MANKIND was my business!” and there are 21 additional facilities across Indiana which ARE or are “in the process of becoming” Verified Trauma Facilities….. JOIN US???!!!!

  2. Kathleen Hurd MD says:

    I am a cross between an entrepreneur and a business woman. I run my own practice but was told it was a hobby by one colleague. That hobby has morphed over time to a mini practice with one fulltime assistant because I need feedback and support in organizing or things can fall apart. Money has been less but I still have a decent income. I want to offer something special and adapt as the climate changes but that change is stressful. I am disappointed with the course of medicine but love providing services. I fear new models but admire those who carry them out, hence love this blog. I wish I could be caught up and feel successful but can’t take the risk yet but as I approach retirement it gets easier to make shifts. I suspect I need to get off the treadmill I ‘m on so I can make a jump and contemplating your mentoring program but continue to make excuses. The pot still isn’t that hot to make me jump out! I guess I’m not failing yet. Solo practice is still working so I keep on. My quality of life continues to improve and I won’t quit until I can’t do it anymore.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Kathleen you have way more courage than you think. So proud of you!!! Just by the fact that you launched your own almost one-woman show in a good-old-boys big-box corporate medical Pacman-type environment means you are amazing!

  3. John Bechtel says:

    Hi Pamela and thank you for the article, which made me smile. I am 68 years old and it has been decades since I dropped out of college because by the end of my sophomore year I had over 100 people working for me. Ten years later with operations in four states and many more employees I went back on an expedited track at university just to say I finished what I started. I remember for years I wondered what was wrong with me that I didn’t see the world the way others did. I LOVED working and I hated family reunions. I didn’t hate the people, I just was so bored with all the small talk. I LOVED the challenge of building something, and would wonder how good could I really be at what I loved. I jumped out of bed, full of ideas before I had finished shaving. I couldn’t relate to the Friday afternoon euphoria of employees. I would just like to add to your article that regardless of which category you identify most closely with, there are no guarantees for happiness because we are complicated beings often filled with contradictions. Not only can we be a hybrid or a little of two or even all three categories; we can be an entrepreneur in one part of our life and have an employee mentality in another part of our life. We can be self-assured in our business environment and totally intimidated by others in other domains of life. I have seen powerful businessmen cringe when a professor or politican who couldn’t run a successful lemonade stand assumes the moral high ground and accuses the business person of selfishness.I would also like to add that the relationship with risk manifests itself in all aspects of life, including relationships with others, and that relatively few in any arena of life are willing to think alone and stand alone, without the comfort of yay-sayers, and that many who have moved the world forward have done so without much outside support, even from friends and family. Some people only find their “courage” shouting from the perceived safety of the middle of the herd.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I knew it! I knew it! Of course this is why you “get” me. I absolutely LOVE what you have written and could not agree more. On our coaching call some people were commenting that they are more like an employee when home cooking in the kitchen or even in their sex lives, yet they could be more of a business owner or entrepreneur in their profession. All very fascinating! Hope you are having fun in Argentina my friend!

    • Rogier koning says:

      Your last part is what I notice as well. I try to change, everybody wants to be of help, but at the end, only one is pulling the car.

      Most think what I try, as patient, living on a mountaintop in Spain, is a lost game. I only think that I already have a no, but if I’m dedicated I will get a yes.

  4. Suzanne Foxx says:

    I’m a business owner with an entrepreneurial bend. I own my own physical therapy clinic and I absolutely love my patients and I love the business I have created (but I hate insurance companies). But I also love to do crazy things like write books and start YouTube Channels. Lol. I believe that I’m pretty intolerable as an employee as I definitely work way more than 9 – 5 and I am always doing something “crazy” and creative and trying to fix things that nobody else thinks are broken. And yes, on holidays I take the opportunity to make more videos.

  5. Liz says:

    Hmm…I’d say I’m somewhere between business owner and entrepreneur. Wouldn’t qualify as an entrepreneur because I would never be more than risk tolerant and I like rules and structure.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Great Liz! So what’s your current employment situation? Are you fulfilling your potential as an entrepreneurial business owner?

      • Liz Hills DO says:

        Oops, I see that I didn’t put my full name in my last comment. Currently working on starting my own practice. 😉 Also will be doing permaculture teaching and consulting (I see this meshing with my practice), I don’t think I’ve mentioned that to you yet.

  6. Jenni says:

    I definitely have bits of all 3, but after listening to this I think I fall mostly into the business owner category. My recent experiences mimic this. I have always been a GREAT employee (my boss’s loved me), but I kind of hated all of my jobs. I don’t like being forced to be on someone else’s schedule, and I abhor being micromanaged. About 4 months ago I went out on my own and opened my own practice. It’s scary (will I be able to pay rent this month?!?!) BUT I’ve never been happier. I love the creativity of doing my own thing, making my own schedule, learning how to market myself, and seeing my creation come to life. I get frustrated that it takes time, but my business coach gets me back on track and keeps me thinking positively when I get lost in the fear and anxiety of it all. It’s so cool because I never wanted to be a business owner, but it turns out that’s kind of who I was all along.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Awesome Jenni!! What’s your website? Love to learn more about your practice. You can do it!! SO MUCH FUN being on your own. Free range physicians are way better that factory farmed. <3 Happy to help if you ever need anything.

  7. Jessica says:

    First, thank you so much for mentoring! Reading your writings on this site and listening to you… it gives me pruritis, but in good way? I’ll find a better way to say that when I understand it better.

    Regarding this topic, I find myself making decisions out of fear, and craving financial security, more often than I am proud of. My 2017 New Year’s resolution was to stop making decisions based on fear! While my results to clearly outline a specific type, it is a great insight into evaluating your nature and honoring it. Thanks again.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I used to make more fear-driven decisions, but I find decisions made in fear only perpetuate the fear and take me further and further away from my dream ad potential in life. I have some MP3 audios I’ll send you that will help. Emailing you now 🙂

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Oh and I LOVE how you get “good pruritis” from reading my articles! Yay!

  8. Selver says:

    Can’t believe. I almost stop to read all other medical blogs becouse of your and now you want to make me stop read business blogs also ?????

    Great read, I definitely found myself in all aspects of entrepreneur “bucket”.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Hahaha! Glad I could be helpful 🙂 OMG! I knew you were in that bucket. I get along REALLY well with entrepreneurs!!

  9. Jim Cox says:

    I don’t know where I fit in this scheme. I definitely feel stifled by rigid rules, but seemingly lack the vision to be a true entrepreneur.

    My research career was moderately successful, if less than stellar. However, I thrived in higher education management at one time. Some of the risks that I took, bringing in new technology, greatly enhanced student learning and success. I established a culture of ongoing dialog and rapid troubleshooting of problems. I moved from project to project — about half of them were very successful, though the other half fizzled out. Eventually, I returned to teaching.

    I’m currently disillusioned with working for an organization. I always wanted to write for the general public on science issues. So, I’m keeping my day job, but working on some journalism projects. I’m by nature a project-oriented person. I can maintain intense focus on projects, but my day-to-day management of people and organizations is less than optimal.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Maybe you are a business owner. Solo. Like me (in my medical clinic). Then you have no staff to manage. Except yourself.

  10. Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS says:

    I liked how you broke down this down, plain and simple and it makes total sense. I do think you can be a combination though. I like my full-time job as an employee because it pays the bills and gives me security. I also like my side job as a blogger and T-shirt designer because it allows me to be creative without any rules. Great article, I have to share it.

  11. Amanda Gerber says:

    This is so helpful to me!!! I am somewhere between Business owner and entrepreneur. I *HATE* rules that limit how I work and I have a wide knowledge base, but I am very focused on my community as a whole. However, my “community” is not just the one I live in, but also other doctors, parents of children with mental illness and anyone fighting personal mental illness. I was fired from my employer position because I couldn’t play by his rules that were horrible for patient care. Ironically, now that I am gone, he has implemented many of my ideas as his own….how infuriating!!

    I am trying to get my ideal clinic off the ground, but I am struggling to define what my ideal is so I am focusing on that for right now. I have it named and have the motto, as well as vision and mission statements. I just need to hone the details. Again, thank you for this!!

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Hard to be a team player when you are on the wrong team! And I’ll email you now. I have all sorts of ideas for you. Happy to help you launch your dream! You will be SO MUCH HAPPIER!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Laura Voss, DO says:

    I would say I’m more of an employee, but in medicine our knowledge base is wide and we have high motivation. I do like some structure and rules which is why family medicine suits me more than something like ER. although there is such a wide variety in FM that no 2 days are alike. I am risk averse for sure when I’m the bread winner and supply my family with not only my income but insurance. Now that the ACA might be repealed many people including myself must stay put so we can have insurance through our employer. Perhaps growing up with a single mom who worked 2 jobs to support us I value a job with a steady income over taking big risks with money. I enjoy my free time and need it to care for my health and well-being since I have been working like a dog for 20+ years. gosh I’m boring.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Laura! I think that makes sense (though ho ware you boring?). Stable is an important quality that I’ve not mastered. Really important to know your values and motivations. Though one thing I would say is it is best to not make fear-based decisions if possible. Fear-driven decisions often perpetuate more fear-driven decisions. Have you read this? (listen to the podcast for sure if you have not): Top 10 fears that hold doctors back

  13. Alan Edwards says:

    I co-developed a Surgical Training video for basic Surgical suturing and we trained over 200 Medical students recently, taking their learning curve up to a whole new level….I had no Technology issues over two days with the first of its kind Multi-Disciplinary Surgical Robotic Symposium with a live feed from the main OR and several labs into the Conference Center. I’m helping build a Robotic Surgical Pancreas Program, developed training videos using bio-tissue and live OR feeds….just to name but a couple of recent examples. In short, I was given a wonderful opportunity to manage the Engineering for a globally connected state of the art Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology, many of the skills and experience I just didnt have, but they believed in me. Our goal is to revolutionize surgical training, enable the development of unprecedented accuracy and precision in the performance of minimally invasive procedures, to deliver novel surgical and interventional therapies to patients, to improve teaching and training, and to develop a greater interventional capacity through robotics, informatics, and simulation……I am not sure where I fit in, but it sure does feel good to make a difference using Technology for better patient outcomes. Keep up the great work Pamela!!

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Wow Alan!!! IMPRESSIVE!!! So does that mean you are an innovative employee? Or an entrepreneurial physician on the loose with a Surgical Training video for basic Surgical suturing? I’m just glad it seems no animals were killed for the purpose of this training.

  14. Stephen Rodrigues, MD says:

    We are all indentured servants to an industry which has fallen from honor to dishonorable by disobedience to the laws of natural healing. God Almighty, Creation’s safe and security.

    Please remember the AMA profiteers set us all up, 900,000 MDs to fail each other and 350,000,000 citizens by –

    All MDs have been setup to Do harm – FIRST!

    Four simple missteps against natural healing set us all up to practice again these Natural Forces perfect healing.

    Using pills; aspirin Tylenol NSAID opium and cocaine derivatives to treat physical pain. So-called painkillers to easily and quickly be rid of pain.

    Using x-ray to “see” the skeleton and discovering degenerating pathology and the invention of joint removal spinal fusion to quickly be rid of pain.

    Writing federal laws supporting and governing the use of painkillers and surgery for the treatment of pain.

    Going on a marketing Blitz negating the benefits of osteopathic and Chiropractic Services.

    Tumbling With the inner workings of federal laws barring access to massage, dry needling, wet needling, acupuncture, travell trigger point, myofascial release spray and stretch even old school Hands-on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

    100 years ago the American medical doctors formed a syndicate tricked the evidence and then began surgical removing and replacing joints to fix away pain.

    60 ago a Groupon Physicians Crack the Code of muscle pain. See MD’s solved the problem that had baffled positions for thousands of years. Thus physical pain is help, heal, rejuvenated, rehabilitation until completely cured.

    Without their wisdom and knowledge and remedies on the front line the muscles guard density will increase as the pain increases muscle function decreases until the muscle function sales to the most common organ system to fail since the muscle system.

    The AMA organized to wipe out and ban all of the historically muscle pain Cures with Hands-on Therapies. Today 350 million citizens are victimized with worthless surgery and enslaved on opium and cocaine derivatives

    As indentured servants we to mindlessly Push Pills and funnel the innocent into a permanent crippling surgeries when pro level hands on care is healing.

    Our colleagues in boards of medicine and Ivory Towers can harassing MDs who speaks out the truth to make the human and honorable corrections.

    Increase cost to get thru training which is like being an indentured servant.

    Scattering free thinking MDs into pods weakening forces for good who want honor put back where it belongs.

    Yea … That is enough to make a person want to kill themselves.

    Dr Rodrigues

  15. Rogier koning says:

    I’m a 42 year old cluster headache entrepreneur living in Spain. My chronic illness forced me to do something, trying to make my world and that of my fellow patients better by trying to change our experience with ‘best treatment ‘ into knowledge.

    That’s why I have setup nobism, a patient platform to get more individual knowledge about our individual journeys and use that knowledge to inform fellow patients and specialists to find the best treatments. We also aim to give the option to share our individual real time data with research of our own choice

  16. Arwen says:

    I am definitely not an employee- business owner/entrepreneur for sure. After residency (psychiatry) I worked as an employee for a few years and meanwhile opened a private practice, and also went on a journey to study social entrepreneurship. In my pre-MD life I had a small business (massage therapy), and found it to be rewarding and give me the autonomy I need. As is such now, 6 years after founding the practice. I was swimming upstream from med school on- talking about trans-disciplinary medicine (robust collaboration, with mental health, physical health, prevention, complementary medicine), and thus I have manifested it and am living it. I am pleased to connect with like minded MDs!

  17. Samantha says:

    Determining where you put your heart and soul is a crucial factor in wether you will succeed or not. It saves us from frustrating ourselves and others and gives us more time to focus on what we are supposed to be doing.

  18. Glynda says:

    Omg, how am I just now finding you?!

    I played the employee for decades. I learned very young how to outwardly play the role which was expected of me, all the while going bonkers inside. Survival demanded adaptability. But I finally started to accept my true ADHD-entrepreneurial self about 14 years ago and continue this day on that journey. I’m that 52 year old who still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. Medicine and healing have been in my blood since before I can remember. But it’s my active interpretation of that which highlights my lack of satisfaction in the mundane, repetitive, secure elements traditionally associated with medical practice.

    I’m a FNP but currently spend most working hours as a locums hospitalist (satisfies the need for change, new challenges and travel). My early FP days were spent in a traditional practice split between FP, urgent care, LTC rounding and hospice. While I loved working with the wide variety of patients and health problems, I very quickly grew to hate the 10-12 hour days where more than half my time was spent checking electronic boxes.

    I caught wind of DPC early on, so opening my own DPC clinic seemed like the logical next step, which I did 3 years ago. The freedom to treat my patients and not the bureaucracy has been life giving!

    Today I prepare to close the doors to my physical clinic but will continue to help a small number of patients via home visits and telemedicine. That fits nicely along side my long distance locums assignments. But there’s still a deep, nagging itch. One of my biggest passions in medicine is to teach patients how to be a partner in their healthcare, rather than seeing provider as the ones “I’m the know”. I want to empower people to pay attention to their own bodies and to insist on the medical care they deserve. And on the flip side, I want to see providers learn to enjoy the partnership with their patients.

    I realize I’m quite late to this particular party, but felt very strongly prodded to reach out to the kinship I feel in your words and approach. I would love to know how you honed in on your message and have been faithful to your true passion over the years!

    For now I’m playing catch-up on your great insights and encouragement.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Just off the phone with an nurse who is going to launch his own healing practice without an FNP or really any degree. Watch this video
      then write me via my contact page & I’ll help you with next steps.

  19. Glynda says:

    Correction – “in the know”

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