Entrepreneurs are Misfits!
If you are a business owner or an entrepreneur then you most certainly ARE a MISFIT!
Over the last two years, I have taken on the title of The Business Misfit. It is interesting to see the responses I have gotten over this time. For me, it was a way to embrace who I am and how I stand out in the business community.
As I have tried to define why I embraced “Misfit” as a term that is not a “bad” term, as some saw it, what I found was that some connect deeply and instantly with this persona while others completely reject it. As I had many conversations with many different people related to this, one of the reasons I think most people find for rejecting this as a term to define themselves is because of their concern of the negative repercussions that society would have of them. Most see the negative side of being a misfit instead of the positive side.
Entrepreneurs are Misfits, stand out and are different than most of society. This is a good thing. It is important that your business stands out or you will struggle to create the growth needed to make change or reach real success.
Being brought up on Punk Rock, of course, I personally am fine with being different and can relate to the band the Misfits. My use of the term “misfit” has no connection to the Misfits other than an appreciation for their art and a respect for the fact that they are certainly different and created their own niche in the punk scene. You see they created a genre that is called horror punk. They were the first to sing about horror movies and B-films which set them up as innovative leaders.
Yes, they have songs like Where Eagles Dare where Glenn Danzig wrote and sang lyrics like this one…
Let’s test your threshold of pain
Let’s see how long you last
I ain’t no godamn son of a bitch
You better think about it, baby
Although many conservative business owners would not connect with the Misfits or these lyrics, I think they speak volumes about business. Business has ups and downs and on those down times, it will test your threshold for pain. Those that will not “last long” under the stresses of business, will not make it. Few in society will go through what it takes to “kill it” (no pun intended) in business. It takes a certain breed to find long-term success in business. So although to some this reference might seem weird, being a misfit is more than just being “weird”.
The fear of self-identifying as a “MISFIT” scares me for the level success these business owners will have in business.
My first concern is that they care too much what others think of them. If a business owner cares what others think of them, they will always play it safe. Businesses are not about playing it safe, but rather taking big risks. Granted we want to be taking an educated and strategic risk instead of just being ignorant and blindly betting the farm and hoping it will all work out.
My next concern about not embracing the term MISFIT as part of their persona is that it really makes me wonder if they understand who they truly are in society. Here is the deal… if you are in business for yourself then you most certainly ARE A MISFIT. Think about it like this… typically people in society are told to go to school and get a good job and save for retirement. This is normal. You, if you started a business, however, are different. You throw caution to the wind. You risk it all and for some reason think that you can create success without playing it safe by doing what the rest of society does. You are willing to buck the rules and rebel against what society believes.
Let’s look at the definition of MISFIT –
noun: misfit; plural noun: misfits
- a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.
“a motley collection of social misfits”
nonconformist, eccentric, maverick, individualist, square peg in a round hole;
informal – oddball, odd duck, weirdo, freak, screwball
“they prided themselves on being the class misfits”
something that does not fit or that fits badly.
Yes, to some they will instantly see words like “uncomfortably conspicuous” or the informal synonyms like “oddball, odd duck, weirdo, freak, and screwball” as confirmation of exactly why they reject the term, MISFIT. But let’s dig into some of the other words in this definition. The definition itself states that a MISFIT is… a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way. What if we remove the word “uncomfortably” for a moment. As a business owner, you do have different behaviors and attitudes that set you apart from non-business owners and everyday society. This is a good thing, otherwise, you would be falling in line and just getting a job.
Now let’s look at the MISFIT synonyms for a moment.
To me, these are words that are badges of honor in my own entrepreneurial journey and I think most of them are for other business owners – “nonconformist, eccentric, maverick, individualist, a square peg in a round hole”. If you do not feel like a maverick or an individualist than I ask are you innovating your industry?
So maybe you have not bought into my thoughts on the term MISFIT yet. Let me share why I embrace the title “BUSINESS MISFIT”. I am not only a misfit but a business misfit. Why? Well, for years I did business to make a good life for myself. Today I am creating my business to not only make a great life for myself but rather to make a great life for others. I am in the process of building a social movement and moving my business to embrace the SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURIAL MOVEMENT where the purpose of being in business is to leverage my company’s success to give back and change the world. It is now a requirement to donate time, money, and resources to causes I am passionate about and inspire other business owners to do the same. This is fairly uncommon in business. Business can often lead with a greedy focus on high profits on the back of its employees. I think there is some current news going around about Disney and how much more the CEO makes compared to its employees. I think CEOs should get paid well, but I also think we must give back to our employees, the business community, and society beyond just profiting from the product we sell or the service we deliver. The more money a company makes, the more IMPACT we can make on the world.
Don’t take my word for it. Here is a great quote from Steve Jobs…
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
And some quotes from Richard Branson that seem to capture the unconventional thinking of typical society or maybe even some business owners…
To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.
Above all, you want to create something you are proud of. That’s always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.
A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better.
And a few more quotes from other CEOs…
Amanda Austin, founder, and president of Little Shop of Miniatures –
Being an entrepreneur is like heading out into uncharted territory. It’s rarely obvious what to do next, and you have to rely on yourself a lot when you run into problems. There are many days when you feel like things will never work out and you’re operating at a loss for endless months. You have to be able to stomach the roller coaster of emotions that comes with striking out on your own.
Steven Benson, founder and CEO of Badger Maps –
An entrepreneur must be able to accept failure. Everyone thinks they can accept failure until they come face to face with failing at a major thing that they have put their everything into. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be someone who is able to risk failure at the deepest personal levels.
So with that… if you are currently in business or if you are thinking about going into business, but you struggle to embrace the word “MISFIT” as part of your personality, I would challenge you at reflect and ask yourself why. Being weird and different is not a bad thing in my opinion. The more you can embrace who you truly are the greater people will connect with you or the more attractive you will be. If you hide behind a facade or wear a mask to be who society wants you to be, you may be missing out on a lot of opportunities to build a following and change the world in whatever space you play in.
Life is too short to play small or play it safe. Go strong and become the innovative leader you are meant to be, my friends. You got this and CAN CHANGE THE WORLD by being YOU!
Photo of Glenn Danzig by Morten Amundsen
Photo of Steve Jobs by Anton Nossik
Photo of Sir Richard Branson by Land Rover MENA