Compassion for the Entrepreneur

Starting your own business can be one of the hardest things to do. It involves knowing your work, knowing your clientele, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and accepting risk. Ok, so it involves a whole lot more than that, but I don’t want to dissuade anyone who might be on the fence when it comes to starting a new endeavor.

This is about compassion for those who set out on their own. Those who believe in something, an idea, a need, a desire to provide a service or product, or who just don’t want a boss. There’s a lot of unknown variables, a lot of chance, a lot of loneliness. There’s so much opportunity for learning, but each chance to learn is a chance to dwell on failure, and that’s not rewarding. There are so many decisions to make, and they can be paralyzing, but instead of worrying if a decision is right or wrong, simply see it as an experiment, a chance to learn. Right and wrong are false dichotomies, they are fictions we create to give ourselves some comfort and a feeling of success. However, you only know what this success feels like afterwards when you have insight into how it affected your life. You’ll never get this insight if you don’t make a choice.

When you get a job you know generally feel you’re capable to do it, because there’s a cut and dry list of responsibilities for you to take on, as well as the person who hired you believing in your potential. But how many jobs have stayed true to the responsibilities you signed up for? Almost all jobs will shift and flow, as you take on work needed to get the job done. Before you know it you’re miles away from what you signed up for, frustrating for some, but I’d like to reframe this change as growth. You’ve grown to fit the new needs, you’ve learned new skills, and you’ve risen to the occasion. Working for yourself is much like this, except it doesn’t start out with a short list of demands, but a very long one. The unknowns are far greater than working for someone else. However the one similarity is adaptability, and the need to learn and grow. Serial entrepreneurs have been shown to have the lowest amount of burnout across professions, probably because they know how to adapt, and shift their job to match their shifting needs and desires.

Job-monogamy isn’t for everyone, and due to it’s lack of security and imbalance of power you don’t often get to say what you do or for how long you’re employed. So being able to shift and flow to the next best fit will suit you well in the long run, be it your own adventure as an entrepreneur or coping with the challenges of working in a company. In either case, I have compassion for your struggle.