Well I have written about this passion I have, this entrepreneurial spirit that burns within me. I cannot help but be excited about the projects, opportunities and endeavors I am involved with at any given time. When things come together, when pieces fall in place, when concepts begin to be reality, there is nothing better. Now here is the rub, these days are few, and far between. If you think you are cut out to be an entrepreneur, let me give you some food for thought before you give up your day job.
I think people listen in on my phone conversations while I’m working at the coffee shop. It’s really the only explanation. In my role as a marketing consultant I often spend time working on projects at a local coffee shop where the caffeine flows and the wireless is free. Routinely someone will come up to my table and start asking me questions about what I do and then invariably begin telling me about their business, project, startup attempt, etc. and then proceed to pick my brain. Oddly, it doesn’t happen just at the coffee shop, I seem to be a magnet for this type of interaction with complete strangers. From these coffee shop consultations, working with my legitimate and potential clients and from my own experiences I’ve noticed a common theme.
the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew…Robert Burns, 1875
You can have a one-of-a-kind, out-of-this-world idea, you can research your brains out, be connected like nobody’s business, even be funded and the whole thing fall apart. Not only that, if you are a true entrepreneur, it’s going to happen to you a lot, maybe almost all of the time. It has been the story of my life since I began, but I am I good company, like Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” If you are not willing to fail and fail often between successes, chances are you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Secondly, even the successes are usually not reached without a change of plans. As an entrepreneur you need to be sure of your goal but be flexible on which road it takes to get you there. Often as you move forward, make more connections and increase your information a new path to the goal takes shape.
He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot…Douglas Adams
It is always interesting as people get to know me and realize through time and conversation that there is more to me than meets the eye. For a long time, I resisted telling anyone about my projects because they are so wide; to some grandiose and outlandish, I just knew they would think that I was obviously nuts. Many of them do I’m sure. Especially when many of those projects have nothing to do with my line of work, have failed or I have been working on them for years. Of course we all care what people, friends and yes even our family think about us but we cannot if we are ever going to succeed as entrepreneurs be discouraged when no one else gets it. Family and friends will tolerate it because they have a relationship with you but you can expect that unless success comes fast for you, they are going to grow weary of the dream when the mortgage is due. You can hardly blame them after all for wanting a “normal” life. Be prepared to hear things like, “when are you going to get a real job?” Now just for the record, those close to me have been very supportive, but I know it has not been easy for them because after all the dream is mine and not theirs.
He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has…Henry Ward Beecher
Nothing wrong with hoping you are the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg but the reality is it
rarely happens and it is even less likely to happen fast. I don’t want to pour water on anyone’s fire after all I’m in the trenches with you but a firm grasp of the situation is a must. Living on less is the badge of most entrepreneurs for much of their careers. Even when you get some traction, taking the capital out is usually a mistake that many times takes the steam right out of a project. It takes money to make money, and many successful entrepreneurs pour the gains back into hiring talented people to take the business to the next level. Plan on watching friends with steady paychecks buy new cars and swimming pools while you make do with what you have. This is another thing hard on the family because they wouldn’t mind having the new car and pools are nice too.
Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering…Theodore Roosevelt
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, be prepared to work twice as hard and twice as much
as everyone else around you if not more. Don’t expect help from anyone although you will find many along the way who will help you, assume they won’t and dive in and get it done. It takes guts, elbow grease, tenacity, and I firmly believe a lot of prayer to accomplish something great. The challenge is part of the exhilaration of success. If it means you are, CEO and janitor then so be it. If you’re not driven to do what it takes then listen to everyone’s advice and go get a real job.
Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go…William Feather
Just because you haven’t become a smashing success doesn’t mean you won’t. It does not mean you are necessarily doing something wrong either. Discouragement can be a big part of the entrepreneurial experience and knocks many out of the race. When I feel like I’m not getting anywhere I often take a stroll through the history of those who have succeeded. Many failed repeatedly before becoming a success. We all make mistakes but someone with a true entrepreneurial spirit learns from it and carries on.