What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
By definition, an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” (dictionary.com) It is a title meant for the strong hearted, persistent, and ruthless individual willing to work eighty hours a week to avoid a forty hour “job.” But even so, the idea of an entrepreneur has been romanticized and the very job description itself has become more of a “Hollywood” casting call than anything. Entrepreneurialism is now the “go-to-it” job. A venture that most see as their ticket to “being my own boss” and “having the schedule that fits my lifestyle” while simultaneously making a ridiculous salary. Something that people can jump into without planning. A get-quick-rich-on-my-own-terms scheme mentality—mostly for the ignorant. Being an entrepreneur is far from the analogy of buying a lottery ticket and expecting to win a large pool of money at little to no work input. Nor is it a perfect comparison to a gold rush. The reality is that starting your own business, novice or expert, takes diligence, preparation, and perseverance. It is not for the faint of heart and will test you beyond your limits and morals.
It is a roller coaster ride with a few loose screws. But at the end of the thrill ride, is an even more exciting reward. Done right at the right time, you’ve got the ride of your life with a large monetary reward and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of raw, authentic, and true self-discovery at the end.
However, before and behind the glitz, glamour, money, fame, and luxury (just a few perks of being successful), the real side—the true behind-the-scenes involves less than appealing realities. Blood, sweat, tears, heartbreak, financial woes, rejection, betrayal, temptation, and exhaustive stress are just a few of the common repeats that are synonymous with starting a company. Because taking a risk to branch off from the corporate norm means enduring a journey of sacrifice, monolithic faith, and relentless tenacity.
As an entrepreneur, you have to understand what it really takes to run a company and the sacrifices that are necessary to build a successful organization or corporate entity. It doesn’t come with a solid manual, but guidelines. Guidelines that prove useful. Guidelines that include having to work overtime—everyday—especially in the start-up phase, sometimes even without pay. You live, you breathe, you eat, and you sleep your company. Gone are the days of partying every weekend, watching every football game (GO BRONCOS!), binging on GOT or OITNB, birthdays, holiday parties, and everything else that is considered a necessary event to attend. What you have to understand is that every moment in time is crucial in building a solid foundation for the success of your company, your brand, or your non profit organization and solidifying your credibility. You have to prioritize your tasks and concentrate on your end goal. This ultimately means having to skip particular events that will make you feel left out in order to put in the time to perfect your craft, build your prototype, or meet with your investors and/or clients instead of your friends. But sacrifices need to be made. And when the desire to succeed is as bad as the desire to breathe, then things start to take into fruition and you start to get traction. And when your friends and family begin to doubt your loyalty and complain about your frequent absence, shrug it off. True friends and real family will understand your passion and support you 100% of the way because what’s important to you, is important to them. Remember, sacrifice never comes without reward. And besides, it makes for one hell of a best selling autobiography when it’s time to release your life story to the world. Hell, even a best picture. So don’t fret about losing a little bit of fun. The moment you make it, the fun factor is beyond your wildest dreams.
When you are pursuing your dreams and paving the path to a successful legacy, you will more than likely hear that your ventures, your ideas, your passion, is but a waste of time. A laughable attempt at a slice of pie that only the 1% are deserving of. But when everyone else seems to doubt you, you alone have to be unwavering in the belief of not only your company and your vision, but your own capabilities as well. Faith is a powerful tool and if you do not believe in yourself and what you’re doing, why should anyone else? You have to have monolithic faith. When JJ Watt was booed by fans when he was drafted to the NFL by the Texans in 2011, do you think that stopped him? When Mark Zuckerberg refused the $1 billion offer of Yahoo! to buy Facebook and the papers harped on him, indicating that his decision was suicidal and he will regret it for the rest of his life, do you think that squandered his ambition? When Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded, do you think he gave up? When Bill Gates stated that there will be a computer in every household and everyone in the industry called him crazy, do you think that hindered his belief? When all football fans and analysts alike doubted Peyton Manning’s ability to play football again when returning to the NFL after his neck surgery, do you think he lost his confidence? And when twelve publishers rejected J.K. Rowling, do you think she gave up on her dreams? No absolutely not. Everyone of these remarkable icons in their respective industries had such unwavering belief in themselves and their dreams that nothing could stop them from achieving it. Every obstacle became an opportunity to showcase their talent and perseverance. Their strength lied in welcoming every challenge because nothing is more satisfying than proving the naysayers wrong.
“Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due everyday.” – J.J. Watt. If that doesn’t indicate what it takes to be successful, then I’m not sure what does. You have to work for it. You have to get up everyday and put in the hours. You can’t just want it—that alone is not enough. Wanting isn’t going to get you anywhere. Execution is key. And when it comes to being an entrepreneur, executing your actions the fastest, correctly, is what’s going to get you ahead. You have to have the appetite for it. Because being an entrepreneur means working with timeframes. After all, deadlines are ubiquitous and having the endurance of both a sprinter and a cross-country runner is paramount to accomplish all of your goals. Luck, capital, and hard work coupled with relentless tenacity are the ingredients to being a successful business owner. There will be countless times when rejection seems like it is the only end in sight and giving up is the only thing left to do…but you will have to persevere beyond the negativity, overcome the obstacles, and be confidently stubborn in your pursuit. Because those who choose failure (yes it is a choice) are usually the ones who were one door-knob-turn away from opening the door to success. One step away from finishing the race and ultimately one hand shake away from closing the sale. Even when it seems like there is no hope, keep moving forward. You didn’t start to end up right back where you started. We dream so we can achieve it, not just drown ourselves in sorrow when we get back to reality. Dreams, ambitions, and goals are not there to dwell in limbo. It’s there to give you inspiration to write your own story, not be featured as an extra in someone else’s book. Look, every story has a treacherous villain and a grand task needed to achieve where the protagonist prevails but not without enduring then overcoming a perilous journey first. It’s what makes for good entertainment, a good movie, a good story, a best selling book. Without a little struggle, the reward is never as fulfilling. The truth is, we’re all going to fall. So we when we fall, we might as well fall forward. So remember, keep trudging forward. When it feels like it’s too pointless to keep going, remember why you started in the first place and why you held on for so long.
Just think of it this way, do you want to be remembered as the person that gave up or the person that persevered?
So if charting into unknown territories and overcoming heaps of challenges excites you and this post is something that resonates with you, then by all means please continue strutting down that boss path you are on. Continue to pave the way for other strong willed entrepreneurs and proving those doubters wrong. (And do feel free to share this post along the way!) Just keep in mind that success is not determined solely on luck. It is a small factor in the grand scheme of things. We can be lucky to strike the gold, but only if we put ourselves in situations that would allow the good blessings to be bestowed upon us.
And never forget this.
IF YOU GIVE BARE MINIMUM, YOU WILL GET BARE MINIMUM.