I sympathize with anyone who says “I’m just not the entrepreneurial type!” but it’s too bad, because we all have to find our inner entrepreneurs now. The old working world is gone. You can’t hand over the reins for your career to your boss. That is not an option anymore.

Job tenures are becoming shorter and shorter. You have to run your own career, so whether you work for yourself or for an employer, you’re still in charge.

You have to run your career like a business. How you get paid is a clerical detail. You have to have the same eye on the horizon that every ship’s captain does.

It’s a lie that not everyone can run his or her own business. Your business might be an independent concern, or your business might be your career. You could call it “Joe’s Career” or “Sanjeev’s Adventures in Silicon Valley.” It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s a business, and it’s the biggest investment of time, energy, money and brain cells that you’ll ever make.

The problems you’ll solve are exactly the same problems every entrepreneur grapples with. What can I do to make money in this business? Who needs what I have to sell? That question begs the related question, What exactly DO I have to sell?

Entrepreneurs develop products and services that people and organizations need. If your business is your career, then your big question is “What kind of Business Pain do I solve for my employers?” You have to know the answer to that question.

Maybe you solve the pain that results when a small business doesn’t know where its dollars and cents are coming from or where they’re going. Maybe you solve the pain that a government agency experiences when it can’t find good people to fill its job openings.

Forget about your Skills. That is an old dogma and it’s no good these days. Everyone claims the same six or seven Skills: Negotiation Skills, Communication Skills, and so on. They mean nothing. Who can say what you  mean when you claim Excellent Negotiation Skills?

Does that mean that you got warring countries to sign peace accords, or that you got the coffee vendor to throw in a couple of extra creamers with your order?

Tell us about the pain you solve, instead.

We have been living in a bubble — the Lifetime Employment Bubble. It started at the end of World War II, so I was born inside it and you were, too. Before the bubble, people didn’t think that their employers would manage their careers. Then we all got lulled into a stupor.

My dad spent his whole career in the bubble and it worked out fine for him, but the bubble has burst. We are entrepreneurs now. We’re stepping into the entrepreneurial world, whether we’re excited about it or not.

I want you to get excited! As the captain of your ship, you’ll have more power, earn more money, and put up with less corporate or institutional silliness. You’ll decide when to put your foot down, and when to find your voice. You’ll decide when to move on.

When you’ve reached a point where you can’t grow your flame in one environment any more, you’ll find a bigger box to inhabit, and an even bigger one after that.

You can work for yourself, or you can work for someone else – that distinction isn’t important. What’s important is that you take the reins for your career and decide where you want to go.

You can take a job that you saw advertised or you can create your own job by starting a conversation with a corporate or institutional decision-maker — a conversation about pain and pain relief. Either way, you’re driving the bus. Where do you want to go?