It seems that everyone wants to become a dot com mogul these days. More and more people are leaving their conventional 9-to-5 lives behind in favor of the possibility of being an online entrepreneur. In some ways, I guess you could say that I make all of my money online, because just about all of my freelance writing jobs are done over the Internet. Sometimes these are website reviews, other times they’re technology news announcements, but whatever they are, they’re typically posted online somewhere.

As I’m sure you already know, there are many ways that you can make money online, but at the same time, not everyone is cut out for it. Whether you want to become a super affiliate or a pro blogger, there are inherent risks involved and only certain personalities are suited for this kind of environment. Online entrepreneurs aren’t “better” than other people — that’s not what I’m trying to imply — they’re just different. In my journeys through the Internet (and offline), I’ve come to discover two general observations that appear to be common to many (but not all) dot com entrepreneurs.

Many lack a formal university or college education.

Jeremy Schoemaker, better known to most people as Shoemoney, wrote a post back in August talking about his life goals. When he was 10 years old, he came up with five such goals: Graduate High School; Graduate College; Goto Law School; Start Own Law Practice; and Buy a Major League Baseball Team. He goes on to say that the only item on that list that he achieved was his high school graduation. Jeremy never graduated from college and never went to law school. Based on how famous and how much money he is making today, I don’t think he has very many regrets in this regard.

shoemoney and john chow

John Chow, better known to many people as an evil panda killer, grew up next door to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Motivated to do something with his life, he is oftentimes credited with creating the term “dot com mogul.” He never did like having a normal day job and he never went to university, but he did receive some sort of business diploma from BCIT. For those of you who aren’t from around here, BCIT is a trade and technology school.

These are just two examples, but it leads me to believe that people who aim to make money online are a little unconventional in the way that they think and thus their thought process is not in line with what is taught in school. It is because they take the path less traveled that they have found success online, not despite of it. Innovation and originality are key.

Corporate executives aren’t necessarily well-suited for entrepreneurship.

I don’t recall the exact statistic, but I read in the paper that most corporate executives would not leave their jobs to start up their own businesses, even if they had enough starting capital to do so. I believe the percentage was somewhere in the neighborhood of two-thirds, meaning that the majority of these suits with expense accounts would not want to leave that world behind to start some sort of venture of their own. As such, these usually aren’t the type of people who would veer off and create something like YouTube.

The rationale behind this hesitation was not discussed, but I think that it has to do with the security and relative predictability of a corporate position. For the most part, you know that you’ll get your paycheque every two weeks and it will be for a certain amount. With entrepreneurs, on the other hand, your “paycheque” may not always come and when it does, the amount on the cheque can vary considerably. Anyone making money with Adsense knows about the summer slump and the holiday spike.

Dot com entrepreneurs value their freedom, I believe, and thus they don’t feel particularly suited to be middle management in some giant corporation. They want their hard work to be directly reflected in the money that they make and not in the money that the CEO above them makes. Taking that leap of faith into the unknown… I’d say that’s pretty unconventional, because most people aren’t willing to take that sort of risk. Most people aren’t willing to forfeit the security of a 9-to-5 for the limitless possibilities of entrepreneurship and this is because the limitless-ness extends in both directions, both positive and negative.

There are inherent risks to being unconventional and successful dot com entrepreneurs embrace those risks, because being normal will only get you that far. Normal.