What They Don’t Tell You About Being An Entrepreneur — Part 2
3. It’s not about you….(well, it’s sort of about you)
I’ve worked with various entrepreneurs fixated on features, specs, and visions of grandeur. They want to build a product and an empire to reaffirm their self worth rather than build a solution that solves a real problem for others. They are motivated by what’s cool, scratching a creative itch and dream of being a great entrepreneur.
Here’s the big problem…
ALL THAT IS ABOUT YOU!
Your customers don’t care about you, your credentials, how hard you work, your accomplishments or if you feel that you deserve it. They only care about one thing. Themselves. They have a problem and want it fixed. They only care about their transformation and results.
Where it is about you is in your story. It’s what makes you unique. Many entrepreneurs neglect to craft and highlight their stories and inspire others. Investors, team members, advisors, and customers want to be a part of your story. They are investing in people.
Passion vs Irrational Exuberance
Passion, like any word, is open to interpretation. Similar to Pride, Respect or Love. It means different things to different people based on associations established through personal experiences and beliefs. Every so often, I’ll see an article about ‘why following your passion is a bad idea’ and the writer advocates playing it safe. Including articles like this one that equates ‘following your passion’ with ‘blindly doing whatever feels good.’
Successful people have one thing in common — they are relentlessly passionate. They have developed the inner strength to maintain a level of resiliency and resourcefulness required to succeed. They’ve developed a mindset that allows them to see beyond the world of what’s acceptable and average. They don’t quit when they experience setbacks, they learn. Passion is their fuel. This means they don’t have someone breathing down their neck making sure shit gets done. They don’t have mom and dad, bosses or teachers to hold them accountable or enforce their work routine. They have to get up and make it happen or it doesn’t happen.
“Great entrepreneurs are passionate about customers and products, not about being great entrepreneurs.”
Passion is a fuel that drives you forward when willpower and technical analysis becomes exhausted. Sometimes things get really fucking hard. It’s in those moments you have to have guts, mental strength, and a sense of purpose to keep you going. I call this “passion,” but that’s my definition.
strong and barely controllable emotion.
Letting passion lead your way doesn’t mean doing so without a significant amount of thought about how your choices will affect your life or those around you. It doesn’t mean you don’t consider the value you provide to others. Passion in a vacuum is no better than love, pride, or respect in a vacuum.
Your passion has to be your fuel because it has to be so compelling and authentic to who you are that you just can’t help yourself.
If it’s not in your blood, when the going gets tough you won’t stick through it. All of the past failures, frustrations, and years of banging your head on a wall will lay a foundation that makes you a better entrepreneur. Passion, while critical will not be enough, you will need to be equipped will a diverse skill set. That’s where mixed mental arts come in.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” — Mike Tyson.
5. Mixed Mental Arts — Expert generalists vs. Specialists
In 1993, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) created a one-of-a-kind competition that would decide the best martial arts style in the world. It involved disciplines of all types — boxer vs. karate, jiu-jitsu vs. wrestling. What emerged and evolved over the last couple decades has become mixed martial arts (MMA), a unique fighting style that combines the best of each discipline.
Your perspective should be multi-dimensional and skill set multi-disciplined. By adapting the best from multiple perspectives you won’t be weighed down by any one role. This perspective allows you to see problems and solutions from different vantage points. As an entrepreneur and founder, you must have knowledge in diverse subjects areas. The ability to be an expert generalist will be an important trait. Learn the terminology necessary to speak and understand code, design, law, finance, marketing, PR, UX, and venture capital. Learn to understand people, what motivates them, and their pains. You must have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn quickly. Being multi-dimensional means to see the world differently, from the big picture down to the smallest detail.
“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” — Tony Robbins
Your perspective and vision will differentiate you from others. The essence of who you are is what will make you unique. Be authentic and embrace it. This is something you can’t learn from any book. Understanding your strengths and having internal courage along with the academic knowledge will be critical in making effective decisions.
Building relationships is an art. While analytical, financial and technical skills are important, there’s also social capital. You’re one person away from the opportunity you seek. That one person you meet today may be the person that helps fund your company or introduces you to someone that will buy your company someday. Play the long game, don’t rush it. Offer to serve others first before asking for favors and intro’s.