Entrepreneurs are as diverse as the businesses they start. A lot of people focus on the public personae of high profile founders to understand how they have achieved their success, but to truly understand them all a bit better it’s helpful to peek under the hood of an entrepreneur’s emotional engine compartment to gain a deeper perspective.
As entrepreneurs, we tend to do things differently. We don’t like working for other people — the corporate world doesn’t (or hasn’t) worked for us. We get bored easily and our minds are always running. Some of us didn’t do that well in school, but we’re smart and we like solving problems. We love being creative and we love to build things. We have a healthy appetite for risk but we like to maintain control. We think outside the box. The status quo drives us crazy so we forge our own path. We view business like a game of chess; it requires us to think several moves ahead at any given time. We’ve never been lazy. Indifferent people frustrate us because we feel that they’re too afraid of the world and the repercussions of their own choices. We possess the courage to be doers; we’re rarely the follower.
We are shameless self-promoters. We handle stress remarkably well. Whether we realize it or not we are constantly negotiating with everyone around us. We build teams of talented people that are smarter than us. We are experts in our respective fields. We write paychecks to our employees that are oftentimes much larger than our own, and sometimes we don’t get paid at all. We’re fluid and adaptable and we pivot on the fly to changing market conditions. Although competition threatens us, we embrace it because it forces us to become better. We innovate. We create. Sometimes we hold on to an idea or project for far too long. Sometimes we don’t hold on long enough. Other times we hold on for just the right amount of time. We are romantically engaged with the idea of attaining financial freedom so we deploy our life savings to acquire assets that we hope will make us money. We can also be experts at delaying gratification for an exorbitant amount of time.
We’re also expert persuaders. It’s what we do. It’s all we know. It’s ingrained in our DNA. And whether we realize it or not, we’re really good at it. We are constantly engaged in the art of persuasion when running our own business and it’s a process that begins from within ourselves and expands to our peripheral network like ripples in a pond. When a great idea strikes us with the intensity of a lightning bolt we begin to persuade ourselves that we must act on this opportunity. We start thinking about when we should take a leap of faith and quit our job. We must also persuade our spouse that (a), we aren’t crazy, and (b), this new idea will be a success (if you succeed at this, the rest is downhill from here). After the boss is on board, we must find and secure funding, so we persuade our friends, our family, and the bank to lend us money and we must be equally convincing that they can trust us to pay it back. We will need employees to work for us, so we persuade highly talented people to leave their stable jobs to come work at our startup. We need customers, so we build a brand and create marketing strategies and campaigns that persuade them to buy from us. And most importantly, we need each other. It’s critical that we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who can help mentor us along the way. I know that I could not have achieved all that I have without the support of my family, friends, and the incredible teams I’ve assembled in my organization. I’ve also found a tremendous amount of value in peer-to-peer groups such as the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), whose mission is to enable entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. No matter how strong or smart an individual may be, it’s an irrefutable fact that we are stronger together.
The entire process of starting and running a business is exhilarating and terrifying, and these emotions exist in tandem virtually all the time. Some days it feels like we’re about to go skydiving. The hardest part is leaning outside the door of a moving airplane at 12,000’ — but once you jump you’re greeted with a rush of endorphins that is quite addicting. Entrepreneurship is one of the most fulfilling endeavors we can embark upon. It forces us to learn and grow and get outside of our comfort zones on a daily basis, transforming us into a greater person than we were the day before. We believe in our ideas and our abilities, and we have a razor sharp vision of what our future looks like. It’s liberating to see something we’ve created come to life after putting in an enormous amount of time, money, and effort. We learn that intuition is oftentimes more important than intelligence, and we learn to trust ourselves and our decisions. Ultimately, trust is an active engagement with the unknown and we become experts at leaning into the unknown while flying at 12,000’ above the ground.
Above all, entrepreneurs are great at finding solutions to complex problems. It’s what we do best. Don’t forget to have confidence that you’ve made it this far, and with faith, determination, and perhaps a dash of luck, you’ll get to where you need to go.