Choosing to be an entrepreneur is no easy task. As we share stories of our early days, a pervasive and common experience is the reservation and reluctance of most to accept our mission. Family, friends and colleagues are generally quick to point out why our ideas may not translate into viable business ventures. It is interesting because when they are asked to explain themselves the response is not couched in any sound business argument I am familiar with. Rather their reaction is emotive. Sometimes coming from different places. Many are fearful and protective and do not want to see us fail, others are envious, they wish they too could break free of the chains that bind them.
It’s sort of like a bad marriage or poor employee-employer relationship. Why stay? Well it is easier to stay and it is easier to attempt to minimize the bad over the good. I would argue that most of the population prefers the devil they know, and anticipates the unknown in scary ways. So what is the worst that could happen? You could fail and your humility becomes unglued. The saddest thing for me is those who spend a lifetime wishing and don’t try. It’s not true that it’s never too late. I find this a ridiculous statement. Yes I suppose when I turn 85 I could decide to pursue a different skill set, but there is a point where the opportunity does vanish.
Yes we do need a support system and an infrastructure of important business advisors, though it takes a strong sense of self to forge ahead.
Yes we do need a support system and an infrastructure of important business advisors, though it takes a strong sense of self to forge ahead. As entrepreneurs, we are like salmon swimming upstream. Going against the tide means stomaching disparaging feedback, overcoming unexpected obstacles and falling down over and over again. A coaching client recently came into my office quite tearful regarding his difficulties getting going with his business. He acknowledged how naive he was in assuming everybody would readily buy in. I told him we needed to figure out a plan and move forward. He was angry with me, suggested I had little understanding and was not empathic. He cancelled our next meeting. A few weeks went by and he re-emerged. He said he recognized that he had a definition of empathy that was more fitting of a victim and I wasn’t indulging him. In other words, he wanted me to tell him how awful life was. When he thought about our conversation he did realize I was encouraging him to be proactive.
A strong emotional resolve is required to go out there on your own. Loneliness is a big part of being an entrepreneur. No one ever explained that to me. Countless hours can be spent second-guessing the veracity of your plan and doubting yourself. It is like running a marathon and crossing the finish line. Athletes spend more than a year training, and it’s a selfish vocation. Every waking hour is geared towards the run. Family and friends have to put up with a lot and contend with being on the periphery. Sure the singular focus, the drive, and ambition can be done within the context of a group spirit, and completing the marathon with others provides momentum and a common purpose. Having said that, internal fortitude is a critical and key attribute. Your own resilience is the required immunization to battle your internal demons, fend off extraneous hurdles, and see yourself to the finish line.