7 Reasons Why Entrepreneurship Is Much More About Character Than We Think

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Entrepreneurship is hard. It has always been hard. What is easier these days is for you to find resources to get you started on the journey, to find people to give you advice, and if you showcase yourself and your company in a certain way, to find people to give you some money to run the startup. Delivering excellence is still hard, keeping costs down is still hard, nurturing your employees is still hard, turning profits is still hard.

It is hard. It is also worth doing.

Entrepreneurship is all the rage now. Startup CEO is the new superman/superwoman, Startup Employee is the new coveted corporate job, Startup Investor is the new high-roller, and Startup Mentor is the new Zen. Among all the hype and excitement and a funding bubble, it is easy to forget that entrepreneurship is much more about character than we care to admit. Starting up is one of the best ways to build and test one’s character.

Oh you’re starting up? Look at the future millionaire you! (Image Source)
If Money is lost, nothing is lost. If Health is lost, something is lost. If Character is lost, everything is lost.

1. Starting up is necessarily action-oriented

When you start up, you get off your ass and solve a problem that has caught you like a bug. You cannot be an armchair critic. You roll up your sleeves and get to it.

2. Starting up means dealing with uncertainty

By definition, startups are companies which are dealing with high degree of uncertainty. They may be dealing with the ‘immediately-possible’ or going for the moonshot. Making decisions in the face of the mounting uncertainty changes you. This is where your courage gets tested.

3. Starting up requires you to really listen

When you make decisions while facing uncertainty, you will often go wrong. You will have to pause and listen to the feedback. Then tweak your ways. You learn humility when you fail and have to start afresh.

4. Starting up means choosing integrity over all else

You have your dream solution for a problem; and you have to learn to paint the big picture — the pipe-dream. But, the story has to still be data-backed and based in reality. If one day you want to claim that you have talked to 100 potential users to gather insights, don’t talk to 20 and stop, actually talk to the 100. Faking and lying here won’t do anybody any good. Integrity is as important as boldness.

5. Starting up means putting in the work

Starting up means putting in the effort in the right direction day-in-day-out. It is a marathon, not a sprint. You dive deep, for the hidden gems of technical breakthroughs and business insights. There is no alternative.

6. Starting up means taking responsibility

You learn to own up to your decisions. While it is easy for others to comment post facto that you should have done this versus that, you listen to them and keep your calm. You were the one who made a choice, you get the blame (and the praise). It may not have been your fault, but if you are running the startup, you are still the one responsible.

7. Starting up means practicing active detachment

Finally, starting up means having the resilience to fall umpteen number of times and still get up. It requires that you not get married to your solution, your technology, and your business model. Starting up is hard because it requires the paradoxical combination of healthy detachment and bias towards action.

I think if we do the startups the right way, the least and the most we stand to gain is our character.


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