What does it mean to be an entrepreneur today? Can anyone do it? What are the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur? Is it something that can be taught or learned?
What is the entrepreneurial journey? What does that process look like?
Take a walk through any bookstore and notice the numerous books on entrepreneurship. Scroll through any social feed and there are promises of "becoming an entrepreneur today and make millions in an instant!"
I don't know if those programs actually work. I confess, a part of me is very skeptical, but I'm in no position to judge. What is very interesting to me is this sudden desire to want to be an entrepreneur.
It seems that anyone with a laptop and a few free hours a day is suddenly calling themselves an "entrepreneur". Why?
Why this sudden fascination? Why this sudden desire to want to align yourself with someone who sacrifices it all with the hopes of what? "Making the world a better place?" "Making a profitable exit?" "Being one of the 'cool kids'?"
I don't know the answers to these questions, but I have a few ideas I'd like to share with you.
My company Juliette is my 3rd venture. You could say that the other 2 didn't work out. Or you could say I'm experienced and have been around the block. It really just depends on how you want to look at it.
For me, it's been an adventure like no other. The thing about being an entrepreneur is that the process is different for everyone. No two journeys are alike. Perhaps that's why it's so difficult to go into the specifics of what makes a "successful" entrepreneur.
There are some key ingredients I've noted along the way, however...
1) VISION You see something that no one else sees. You believe in this vision so much, you convince yourself to go into uncharted territories where nothing is promised or certain. The odds are against you and friends and family caution you of the perils of going into the unknown. But you believe in your vision so strongly, you decide to proceed anyway. This makes it exhilarating and lonely at the same time.
2) OBSTACLES At some point on your journey you are faced with obstacles. I can tell you from personal experience, there is absolutely nothing sexy about this part. It's a very humbling experience. And after deciding to go against the odds and against everyone's advice, when you're hit with an obstacle, it can be jarring and put a real dent in your ego.
One of the biggest obstacles every entrepreneur faces is the need for capital. Whether you've decided to start small and work your way up to cash flow positive or go after an angel investment, every assumption you've made about your business will be challenged.
3) THE JOURNEY WITHIN As you work through the challenges of your business and fine tune every data point in your model or business, it becomes less a question about economics and more a question about who you are as a person and what your values are. Remember ultimately, it's your vision that's being questioned. The same vision that inspired you to take a leap of faith into the unknown. The same vision you decided to sacrifice everything for. When projecting into the future, numbers and economics can be tricky. Skeptics will want to know why YOUR particular method will win. And to answer that question, you will have to go deep within yourself. You will have to question every decision you've made thus far and honestly ask yourself how it has helped you and your business. You'll have to tap into your own experiences and wisdom and be prophetic about how things will work out in your favor.
This journey within is the ultimate transformation. It will break or define you.
It is also at this moment where your vision turns into belief. And when that happens, it is truly magical. Because suddenly, you are able to convince others, and you are no longer the only person that sees what you see.
So going back to my earlier question, why is society suddenly fascinated with becoming an entrepreneur? My guess is that it has less to do with acquiring millions (although I'm sure that's a driving force for plenty of people) and more to do with living a life inspired. I think on some level we all admire the courage of anyone pursuing their dreams with such passion, such vigor, such perseverance. And even if they are struggling, we still want to see them push through because it is something we can all identify with and yearn for. We are all searching for our sense of purpose and the meaning of our lives.
Entrepreneurs are just out there more because we take the biggest risks. But that is not to say our journeys are so different from everyone else's. At the end of the day, we are simply doing what we believe in.
Entrepreneurship has not promised me millions. I don't do it because I think I'm cooler or better than others. I do it because I believe in my vision. But more importantly, I believe in myself.
So what is the surprising truth about being an entrepreneur? Believe in yourself. It's as simple and as complicated as that.
Thanks for reading,
Food for thought: What's the biggest risk you ever took in your life? How did it play out? Would you do it again? Feel free to comment below and share your story!