I’m further along on my entrepreneurial journey and I want to share some of the things I’ve learned in the last few months. A more apt title would be ‘5 More Things I’ve Learned As An Entrepreneur’ because every day there seems to be a new skill that I have to learn or a trait I should adopt. This is by no means a comprehensive list and it’s compiled based on my experiences. I think of these as lessons that are applicable as much to life as they are to an entrepreneurial venture.
- You need a lot of confidence and a pretty big sense of humor. This seems so obvious, but I don’t say it lightly. YOU REALLY DO NEED IT. The confidence- you have to believe in yourself and your ideas before you can get someone else to. As for the sense of humor, I grew up in India and the Middle East in the 70’s and 80’s and almost every women’s magazine had someone saying that the quality they most looked for in a potential spouse/partner was a sense of humor. I remember saying it myself and feeling very above-it-all, not superficial, meeting-of-the-minds kind of person. I don’t think I (and many of the women) completely understood what we were saying- I probably thought that thanks to our combined sense of humor, we would laugh indulgently at everything, all while sipping tea on lazy Sunday mornings. Being an entrepreneur means having an idea and putting it out there so that the world can decide what to do with it- believe and support (what you would like them do), disbelieve (less preferable), ridicule (of course, you prefer if this didn’t happen). I vaguely knew this when I started but really, I am shocked at the number of people that walk around with invisible pins ready to pop balloons (it’s a metaphor, balloon= your big idea)! You need a lot of confidence in yourself to shake off the balloon-poppers and keep trying. The sense of humor comes in handy in more ways than one- you don’t take yourself too seriously and it’s easier to deal with all the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life if you can also laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
- You are vulnerable. A good accountant is irreplaceable and worth his or her weight in gold and will help you plan your budget and stay within your financial means. The bigger vulnerability is the emotional one. For example, every day, it is my heart out there- whether it’s a tiny blog or a bigger dream, it’s still something I care about like it was my baby. That makes me vulnerable. In a world where we are always encouraged to show how perfect our lives are- the perfect family, dream job, exotic vacations, amazing latte- vulnerability is even more scary. The way I deal with it is to just focus on that particular day- I show up and I work hard. I have a to-do list that I try my best to stay on top of and then, every evening, I spend time with family and watch an episode or two of The Walking Dead. Zombies are taking over the world, what does anything matter?! (I started watching The Walking Dead late, so I’ve plenty of seasons of cover).
- You are doing what you want. It’s not motivation and fist pumps all the time, but if you show up every day and give it 100%, you will progress. What began as one adventure may take you to so many new ones and along the way, you will get to know yourself really well. Your strengths and your fears. Explore both and you will come away richer. And when you are 90, you are not going to be thinking, ‘I should’ve done that’. Surely, that makes it all worth it?!
- Your first idea is not likely to be your best one. I mean, it could be (don’t want to pop any balloons), but it’s a journey for a reason. You get to come back every time, tune and fine-tune your idea or project until it’s doing what you want it do. And for that, you may have failures along the way because that’s just how the process works. Learn from your mistakes and remember this C.S. Lewis quote, Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” Need more inspiration? Read this article on Forbes for some amazing thoughts.
- Don’t do it alone. Listen to your partner and your family and friends. I don’t necessarily agree with every idea or suggestion, but it helps to hear more objective viewpoints than mine and of course, the support and encouragement are invaluable. Surround yourself with positive people. Positive thinking does not discount failure or exaggerate success. Instead, it’s a constant reminder of the best version of your dreams.
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