Many people talk to me about being an entrepreneur. Some confess a childhood dream they have kept tucked away in a box of what-ifs and maybe-one-days; other people ask me for advice, convinced that they’d never be able to ‘pull it off’; and then there is the batch of folks who explain all of the reasons why entrepreneurship could never work for them. I am beginning to see that most people do not realize that entrepreneurs are not very different from them.
Dedication: This is dedicated to every aspiring and secretly-aspiring entrepreneur. I spoke to fellow travelers on the entrepreneurship path and put together four key entrepreneurial traits that I’ve noticed on this road, and that I thought you should know. Hopefully, this will shed some sobering light on entrepreneurship:
4 Things You Should Know about Entrepreneurs-
#4. WE’RE SCARED:
Sure, fearlessness is imperative whenever you pursue a dream but I have yet to meet an entrepreneur- new or veteran- who doesn’t get scared sometimes that her latest idea will be a flop, that he won’t land a client, that she will regret some big business decision or so many other fears. Entrepreneurs may do a damn good job of pitching and selling but don’t forget that they are just as human as anyone else; everyone exhales deeply and wipes off some brow sweat before walking into a make-or-break meeting. Imo Udom, Co-Founder and VP Sales & Business Development at Wowzer candidly explained, “Being an Entrepreneur is no cake walk. Things get very scary. My worst fear is to one day have to tell employees, who might have families, that they need to pack it up.” Entrepreneurs are all painfully aware of the alternative 9-5 life that could very well rid themselves of most of their daily stressors and sometimes it can all be scary.
Javier Suarez, Executive Producer of the Hispanic Choice Awards, sums it up best. “Flying without a net is exhilarating but its still flying without a net.” If fear is what you think is what holds you back from pursuing your passion or dream full-time, remember that it doesn’t go away once you do; you just do it anyway.
#3. WE DOUBT OURSELVES:
As much confidence as it requires to dive head first into the uncertain waters of self-employment, the truth is insecurity is just as rampant in entrepreneurship as without. Jo Johnson, Founder of A Gift of Tea admits, “When there is no immediate gratification or monetary rewards that are significant, I question if I am on the right track.”
Jomaree Pinkard, serial entrepreneur, Pink Inc. Consulting Founder, and Hella Bitter Co-Founder agrees, “There are always those moments of insecurity (but) after our mind rushes through all of the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘how am I going to make rent next month’, we smile and think to ourselves, ‘we wouldn’t have it any other way!'” We may be really good at fooling crowds in a boardroom or networking event but at the end of the day, we all question it all. Doubting and insecurity is a part of being a human. If you think you have to be cool, confident and composed all the time to take the plunge, you’re wrong!
#2. WE MAKE IT UP AS WE GO:
The cat is out of the bag. We were not born with some mutant superpower (although my ability to color-code a master event binder is uncanny.) Most of us take to this road way before we become experts in any field, and so we do want any smart, respectable, professional in a new environment would do, we make it up!
Much of our expertise is learned “in the field;” The baptism-by-fire moments when we must respond to a question that stumps us, think on shaky feet and so, we make something up. Joanne Douglas, founder of a sustainable art studio, has embraced these moments of uncertainty. “I have found that when I place myself in unfamiliar situations, I push all my boundaries. That’s when I become the most daring and creative.” Imo Udom shared how he has been faced with this reality as well: “I remember completely screwing up a sales meeting with a client and then using their feedback from that meeting to ace another one an hour later.”
Entrepreneurs go with gut feelings, we Google templates of what we need, and we ask around. When I asked Javier Suarez whether entrepreneurs make it up as they go, he poignantly remarks, “Its our secret business plan.” Yes!
#1. WE’RE A LITTLE NUTS:
You may have always had a suspicion—and well, you are right! In order to dive into the murky waters of self-employment, I think one or two screws must be loose! (Full disclosure- no one actually admitted this one to me but after speaking with many fellow trailblazers, and observing my own excitement over pitch decks, my obsession with strategic planning and my addiction to quaint cafes with free wi-fi and outlets, sanity came into question.)
I am pretty sure that most entrepreneurs would secretly agree; conversations about our commitment to passions highlight this required hint of insanity. Jomaree Pinkard framed it well. “We are the business bungee jumpers, skydivers, and Mount Everest climbers. The difference is that most of us have no cord that’s going to snag us, or a shoot that’s going to glide us to safety — no crampons, no food in our parka jackets — we’re just jumping and climbing — and we like it! We love being scared to death.” Joanne Douglas actually owned this part of entrepreneurship. “I am a year from 30 and I have no car, apartment, one suitcase full of my things, but I have a vision so I walk around like the richest person in the world. I’m pretty sure that qualifies me as clinically insane.”
Perspective. Jokes aside, the seemingly insane and thrill-seeking qualities that Jomaree and Joanne describe are actually essential on this road. In order to succeed amidst uncertainty, you must surrender logic, reason and what may seem sane and the right thing to do. This road really is about running into oncoming traffic, flying without a net, and jumping without a ‘chute. Once you see that entrepreneurs, like everyone else, are scared, get insecure, and are not experts first, jumping out of the plane and going after what you love is the fun part! If you have ever experienced the first three, chances are, you’ll a little of the fourth… and you’ll be just fine on this entrepreneurship road. Whatever you do, please don’t convince yourself that entrepreneurs are any different than you or than its anything more than a decision; They are not and its not. Stop thinking- do it.
Now you’ve seen Things You Should Know about Entrepreneurs then you can start exploring and become a successful entrepreneur