I want to respond to Michael Forney's post above. He suggests that you might want to become an entrepreneur so you can create...
"...a business which allows one to do the things you cannot do in a traditional employment setting - coach your son's football team, your daughter's volleyball team, volunteer as a room parent,..."
It is certainly true that if you are a founder or co-founder, you can set your own hours and decide how to spend your time. But it is also true that if you become an entrepreneur and you spend fewer hours working than you did at your corporate gig, you will fail. If you have never done it, you cannot imagine the effort it takes just to get a basic company really up and running.Startups require 60-70 hours per week from the founders in order to get them off the ground. That's why you MUST be passionate about it. It needs to feel like your passion, not work.
It's true that you can "set your own hours," so in the early days of the company you can put that 60-70 hours in at any time of day throughout the week. If you truly have the personal stamina to coach volleyball and football and be a room parent and still HONESTLY devote 60-70 hours per week to your startup at odd hours, then by all means go for it. But PLEASE don't kid yourself about the commitment. If you do not spend 60-70 hours per week on your startup as a founder, your odds of success are slim.
In other words, if "set your own hours" for you is really code for "work less" - don't even think about a startup. Think instead about various possible career changes that allow for part time work or a very well defined 40-hour work week.
Just to reiterate - I'm all for startups and have spent my whole career in startups. But I want to make sure new entrepreneurs are not naive about what it takes.
Yes, if you are "your own boss", you don't have to ask anyone's permission to leave at 3PM on Wednesday to coach soccer. But what happens when your critical first customer calls you at 4PM on Wednesday during soccer practice? Are you going to take the call or coach soccer? The choice is totally yours, but every choice you make impacts the chances of success of your startup.ALSO, let's imagine you have some success and get to hire a few people. Are you going to go coach soccer and tell your staff to keep working? A successful startup means the founders are now the bosses. Bosses need to set the example for corporate culture.
I believe that one of the reasons that 9 out of 10 startups fail is because so many people start their own business so they can "be their own boss" when in fact what they really want to do is work less. Sorry - doesn't work that way. Pioneer farmers were "their own boss" and if they didn't physically work their land 70 hours per week their families ended up starving. Startups are no different.
If you feel like you are working too hard, and you want a lifestyle change, DO NOT found a startup. Instead, you need to figure out how to tune your lifestyle to create a better life/work balance.
On the other hand, if you have tremendous passion and energy and you want to go create something new in the world that you can't do in your corporate setting, then by all means GO FOR IT! Startups are often where innovation happens that changes all our lives! And being in on the ground floor allows for tremendous upside potential, financially.
As one of my entrepreneur friends says, "We do what others won't so that someday we can do what others can't."
Just don't forget that the "do what others won't" part comes first!