Abandoning Comfort in the Pursuit of Passion
As many entrepreneurs know, it’s not an easy leap to leave a comfortable, secure career in pursuit of your dreams. I’ve found that letting go of your fears and learning what it takes to build your idea will be the first steps toward transforming it into the best decision you could’ve made.
In my formative years, I always wanted to be an architect, but insecurities and fear of the future led me to believe that it was a difficult career, financially speaking. This pragmatic mindset led me down the path to my other passion, technology — a field in which I was skilled and quickly able to work up to executive positions at top companies. However, my architectural interests were never far from my mind. In an ironic twist, I married an architect and found myself living vicariously through her work. I decided to indulge in some small architectural ventures in my spare time, toying with design and innovation on a small scale at home. I bought a few fixer uppers and enjoyed remodeling them outside of my hours at the office and in between flights.
My career in technology did, in fact, give me the success I had wanted. I led global companies in developing enterprise and consumer product strategies and operations, ultimately growing strategic corporate partnerships and alliances from $800M to $1.9B. I watched my mentees move on from the companies I oversaw and witnessed their ideas spring to life and come to fruition. I became a leader that many wanted to work with, but in continuing these roles as executive, advisor and mentor, I still silently neglected the other passion I had, bubbling its way to the surface.
Making the decision to push aside my comfort, fears and insecurities to take the leap and fuse the two worlds together in a way that allowed me to work in full pursuit of my passions was the best (and scariest) professional pivot of my career. Now, I am happy to share some of the best steps other entrepreneurial minds can take to turn their passion into a paycheck:
Release Your Insecurities
No one is immune to insecurities. They are an inherent foil to our progress in this world, personally and professionally. They will keep you captive, suffocating your success and convincing you of how you are not capable, until you consciously choose to release them. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, as you will find people doubt you more often than they invest in or support you. The most freeing realization I have had in growing and maturing is discovering that I no longer needed to prove myself to anyone but myself. In ignoring the insecurities that told me I would be unsuccessful, I was able to mix my passions with my skill set and created a meaningful end-to-end digital home renovation platform. I no longer have to lead with or hide my insecurities. I use them as a personal measurement of how and where to improve and excel.
Know Your Business and How to Build It
Being an entrepreneur is being a businessman with an idea. There are thousands of innovative, talented people with the skills to bring new ideas to reality, but running a business is simply not possible without understanding the basic operations and infrastructure. Lack of management is one of the top reasons startups fail. Ensure you have the training, knowledge and industry experience relevant to your idea ahead of time. Read, digest and discuss the Lean Startup Model. (It’s not always right, but try to leverage the model as best as you can). Be mindful of your own areas of opportunity, and learn everything you don’t already know.
Have Patience with The Process
Disruptive ideas are the hardest to bring to life quickly. Period. If you are a new entrepreneur seeking funding or counsel for your first venture, this process can be even more gruesome. Investors will often be hesitant with innovation, because it is safer to bet on proven and practiced businesses and founders. That does not mean you quit. Nearly every modern industry disrupter was born from a first-time innovator, who worked through the same fears, frustrations and failures you may find yourself facing. Resilience, patience, preparedness and perseverance are key, fueled by a fiery and tireless commitment to your business. Get used to being told “no” by investors if you are not part of their club. Take it with a stride and get even.
Find Community and Collaboration
Identify the people you can trust — those who support you and believe in your ideas — and keep them close. Draw on them for inspiration or insight. Bounce ideas off of them and vent to them, when necessary. Get away from your desk and network with your creative peers. It is no secret that the start-up life can get quite lonely, but the entrepreneurial spirit is stronger in community and innovation is much more effective through collaboration.
My biggest piece of advice: Believe big, push hard, find an anchor for yourself to get through the tough emotional journey you’ll be embarking on, and be patient!
By Raf Howery, CEO & Co-Founder of Kukun