What You Should Know Before Becoming An Entrepreneur
Before you set out to become an entrepreneur, prepare yourself for the reality.
Business literature is filled with definitions of entrepreneurship. And we often speak of entrepreneurship within a tech or startup space, though surely the family running your neighborhood market is also an entrepreneur. Many people around the globe are forced to become entrepreneurs just to survive.
Unfortunately, there is no exact formula for entrepreneurship. Rarely one finds overnight success. There are no quick fixes. It is unique for each individual.
For me, entrepreneurship started with the need to survive, then moved on to fulfill my dream, and finally graduated to a need to make a difference (in whatever small way I can). But in many ways, the challenge remains the same.
I have learned many things through trials and tribulations:
1. There is no substitute for love.
The great poet Rumi once said: “What you seek is seeking you.”
Sooner or later, our entrepreneurial journey needs to support what we each love to do. It is only when we find the love of our true calling that we find inspiration to fight for our purpose. Our love drives our passion — gives us the energy for the long haul.
And to discover such love, it takes self-awareness and connecting with ourselves.
2. You are your greatest investment.
In rough waters when there is no one to call upon, it is our skills that save us. Mastering our skills requires utter devotion. It is only through daily devotion that we improve our authentic craft. Devotion is our best sustainable self-investment.
Devotion is what gives us the daily dose of confidence. You can lose everything, but no one can take your authentic craft.
3. Mindfulness helps you survive.
Several decades ago, the term mindfulness was used to imply Eastern mysticism related to the spiritual journey of a person, originated by Gautama Buddha.
Today, psychologists define mindfulness as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999). Being mindful allows us to focus and execute one task at a time.
More importantly, being in the moment allows us to escape from adversity and conserve our inner energy.
4. Suffering needs to be your friend.
I love this Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
The more things we try, the more likely we are to fail. And that’s very much the essence of being an entrepreneur.
Failure and adversity inherently invokes pain, suffering, and disappointments. Accepting and growing through our pain is part of entrepreneurial growth. This is hardly easy. Like any other skill, learning to suffer well requires conscious practice and learning. It is only when we learn to welcome suffering, we are able to get up repeatedly. For an entrepreneur, pain is a must — therefore suffering needs be optional.
5. You need to inspire yourself every day.
For example, writing allows me to consciously put these positive reaffirmations on paper to visualize my destiny. I have also found writing is therapeutic for coping with my adversities. It allows me to turn my anger, fear, and disappointments into inspiration for myself and my readers. It serves as stress relief when I try to turn negative into positive by finally expressing what I feel down deep inside.
6. Avoid people who hold you back.
We all know that the people we surround ourselves with make the difference between failure and success. If you’ve ever been around someone who leaves you feeling exhausted and drained, you have probably encountered an emotional vampire. These people don’t drain your blood, but they do drain your vital energy. Emotional vampires can be found anywhere.
It is important to avoid people who bring us down, waste our time, take us backward, and have no empathy in our suffering. Make a deliberate effort to spend time only with people who uplift you and make you stronger.
7. Believing in chance encounters moves us forward.
In any journey — entrepreneurial or otherwise — there are many encounters. Some are planned; some are by accident; and some by divine intervention. I have had many amazing “chance encounters,” where it seems as if the universe rallied to come to my aid when I needed the help most.
They have occurred when least expected — and many of the people I’ve encountered have become business partners, friends and family. And whenever those encounters initially left me with a “negative” experience, they turned out to be much-needed lessons for me. I believe chance encounters happen to those who remain optimistic no matter what.
8. Saying “no” and making tough calls is essential.
It takes more courage to say “no” than to say “yes.” But if we do it, we protect ourselves from making poor decisions. This tactic can help us stay focused and prevent unnecessary complexity and wrong turns. It can also keep us from getting involved with the wrong people.
Dr. Judith Sills in Psychology Today writes:
“There’s a lot of talk, and a lot to be said, for the power of Yes. Yes supports risk-taking, courage, and an open-hearted approach to life whose grace cannot be minimized. But no — a metal grate that slams shut the window between one’s self and the influence of others — is rarely celebrated. It’s a hidden power because it is both easily misunderstood and difficult to engage.”
9. Being intentionally omnivorous allows us to be diverse.
An ongoing part of identity building — both in our individual working lives and as part of a team — is to practice inviting a breadth of experiences, a pool of experiences from which we can draw on later in life. When journalists ask artists the lazy question “Where do your ideas come from?” the answer can only be this: their experiences.
To gain a diversity of experience, it requires entrepreneurs to be intentionally omnivorous.
10. Treating yourself kindly is a must.
In his book, “The Art of Happiness,” His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama wrote, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Entrepreneurs are often very hard on themselves. For many, even though it may be easy to show compassion to others, it may be hard to accept, embrace, and be compassionate toward ourselves. Some of us blame others for all our miseries and some blame ourselves. Often it’s easy to blame oneself, feel sorry, and/or put oneself down. It is only through being able to let go, have compassion for oneself, and self-encouragement that we can pursue a long-lasting journey.
Copyright © 2017 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.
I am an entrepreneur and author. Founder of SHADOKA and other companies. Shadoka enables aspirations to lead, innovate, and transform. Shadoka’s accelerators and solutions bring together the management frameworks, digital platforms, and thought leadership to enable innovation, transformation, entrepreneurship, growth and social impact.
Author of “Everything Connects — How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability” (McGraw Hill) and “Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders” (Motivational Press). Follow me on Twitter Faisal Hoque. Use the Everything Connects leadership app and Suvvive to Thrive resiliancy app for free.