On being an Entrepreneur

Having built a few successful businesses; one of the topics I get asked to speak about is entrepreneurship. I am going to tell you this, I don’t believe just anyone can be an entrepreneur. I believe entrepreneurship is genuinely for the few and not for the many. Now the undeniable truth is that, what one man/woman can do another can do. You CAN do anything you set your mind to. I am not disputing that. But just because you can doesn’t mean you will. Just because you could doesn’t mean you should. If you are serious about entrepreneurship, then you need a high degree of self-honesty. The question, I think, that most people want to be answered is; could anyone be an entrepreneur? Is it something you can teach? My answer is this: you can teach it but only to those who can do what they will. Very, very, few people can do what they will. It is hard enough to keep your word, to be on time, to listen, to accept that you don’t know, all of which are easier by far than doing as you “will.” “Will” is the ability to act, in spite of how you feel and despite what you believe. It is to have the faith to doubt your own experience. Entrepreneurs do what others would not, and for that nature rewards them in that they live like most people could not. Most people are attracted to the second part what they leave out is the first part. Here is my take on entrepreneurship.

Looking for advice on being an entrepreneur is really, I think, about trying to answer some questions about yourself, for yourself. The first of which is this, could you do it? The answer, of course, is yes. Now do you truly believe that you could? Or, are you try to convince other people because if you make them believe you then maybe, you will come to believe it yourself? Think about it? There is no doubt that anyone can do it. It is a recipe. You “can” follow a recipe, can’t you? Think about it? There are lots of life stories about people who have less than you ever did and they did it. You can do it too. Do you have what it takes to get it done? That is the question. You see, it is not about convincing anyone. You have to prove this to yourself. Everything else is just noise; just information and information is not knowledge.

Now, if you could do it and you really believe that, then there is the question of “should” you do it. Should you quit your job and be an entrepreneur. The first answer is always the right one, and that is more often than not, No. You first need to be honest with yourself, and that is probably the hardest thing to do. Entrepreneurs aren’t born; they are made. What makes them is loss, pain, perseverance, hopelessness, risk, loneliness, and all the things most people are trying desperately to avoid at all costs. If you are ok with experiencing those emotions, and they will not cripple you, then you should quit your day job. The numbers are in your favor. If you feel you cannot endure those things, then you should not. This is about self honesty. It is about accepting who you are rather than wishing you were who you are not. Could you do it? The answer is Yes. Should you do it? Depends! Are you ok losing everything you have right now? Ask yourself the question and trust the answer.

The seminars and the hype are about could you do it? Save yourself the ticket price and accept the simple truth. Yes, you can do it! How you feel is not going to change the answer. Feelings are NOT going to give you leverage over your disbelief. You either you believe it, or you don’t. If you believe it, then no proof is required. If you don’t, then no evidence will convince you. Could you be an entrepreneur? The answer to this is truly a personal choice. The profoundly personal reflection part of that choice is about answering the question of should you do it. No one can tell you if you should or should not do something. This is something you will only be comfortable with when you know the answer for yourself. We spend a lot of time on “could” and “should,” but the real question is “will you” do it.

Entrepreneurship is something you have to love doing. I am not talking about love for the glory part. I am talking about loving the grind part. You have to love the grind. The daily monotony is something that has to give you comfort. It is much the same as being a pro athlete. You have to love the practice. You have to love the pain and the pressure. You have to crave it. I once asked the scout for a pro football team how does he know how to pick raw talent out of so many applicants? He said, simple really, look for the guy who loves the practice. No one tells him to go to practice. He practices because he loves to. That is where I start and eliminate everyone else. That always stuck with me. It is this “will,” the drive to grind, that is the difference that makes the difference. You don’t need motivation when you are an entrepreneur. You work because you love to. You practice because you love to. If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.

When it comes to advice on being an entrepreneur, I don’t really have any profound answers. My answer is simple. Look within yourself and ask yourself: Can you do want you will? Can you act in spite of fear? Can you trust your convictions? Can you make a choice? Not a decision but a choice. Can you be ok with being wrong? Can you truly be honest with yourself? Ego, pride, hype, those are all pretenses that lesser minds use to mask their inefficiency. Are you of a lesser mind? Then why would you need coping mechanisms? If you seek the truth, then there is nothing to cope with.

Being an entrepreneur is not a lifestyle. It is a skill, not a style. It is a way to live. It is not something you can get from reading blog posts. It is not an attitude that you can copy. You will not get it by pretending or “acting like” someone. An entrepreneur is something you do because of who you are. You know who are because you know the answers to the questions: Should You? Could You? And Will You. When you have those answers and own them for yourself then you know, who you are. Then what you want to know is “How”, which is an entirely different question. Entrepreneurship, in my opinion, is a calling. Anyone can do it, but it is not for everyone. No one can tell you if it is right for you. You have to figure that out for yourself.

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