I’ve provided counsel to hundreds of entrepreneurs over the last four decades. It’s hard not to get excited when an entrepreneur walks you through their idea for the next big thing! I love to ask entrepreneurs if they feel they’re cut out for the journey they’re about to undertake to build a business, and every entrepreneur I’ve spoken to tells me how ready they are for the process. Then I ask the morbid question that no one has ever asked them. Are you willing to go homeless, to prove to the world how good your entrepreneurial idea is? I ask this, because this one question separates real entrepreneurs from the people who just pretend to be entrepreneurs.
Every entrepreneur is put on earth with at least one gift, and most entrepreneurs will figure out what that gift is at some point in their life. What most entrepreneurs don’t know, is what they don’t know. And unfortunately, as an entrepreneur, this is where you’ll most likely spend 95% of your time while turning your great idea into reality. For instance, let’s say you love to draw. You leverage this talent into a degree in Architecture. After spending the first five years of your career at a regional architectural firm, you decide you want to start your own firm. You’re brimming with excitement, because you think that now you’ll get to work on the types of projects that you’ve found most appealing in your brief architectural career. What you don’t know is that as the business founder, you’re going to spend 95% of your time doing the following:
- Interviewing, hiring, training, developing, and firing employees,
- Building your businesses brand through advertising, promotion, and public relations,
- Identifying, selling to, and servicing customers,
- Preparing financial statements and tax returns,
- Preparing, packaging, pricing and delivering products and services,
- Conducting product research to make sure your products and services evolve, and market research to stay one step ahead of your competition,
- Motivating and managing staff to achieve the company’s goals,
- Overseeing administrative tasks like ordering supplies, and communicating with anyone who opts to interact with your business,
- Purchasing, installing, and utilizing technology,
- Preparing and executing contracts and agreements (and potentially defending your business interests in court), and
- Designing, implementing, and overseeing the practices and procedures that allow all facets of your business to work in unison.
In other words, entrepreneurship means you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Every day is going to be different, scary, and exciting, all at the same time. Let me give you an example. Early in my career, I was hired as an interim executive to help an entrepreneurial venture whose revenues had plateaued. One morning I get a call from one of the plant managers, telling me the employees have been locked out of the building by a U.S. Marshal (because the company had a five-figure debt owed to the Internal Revenue Service). Unfortunately, this was the same week that payroll had to be paid to employees. So, my dilemma was, do you pay the IRS or do you meet payroll (but there isn’t enough money in the company bank account to do both). And this was my first week on the job! I’m also pretty sure this is when I started to lose my hair! I wish this was the only time I was placed out of my comfort zone in this entrepreneurial venture, but this happened on almost a daily basis. Ask any entrepreneur to tell you about a situation in their business when they had to operate outside of their comfort zone. Then pull up a chair, for what inevitably is going to be a continual stream of long stories.
Entrepreneurship also means you better be comfortable with failure, because you’re going to see a lot of it. But if you’re not failing, you’re not innovating. True entrepreneurs eliminate negative words like no and can’t from their vocabulary. It’s not that they don’t expect to hear these words. They just understand that when they hear these words, they know that the opportunity to truly learn has been presented to them. It’s been said that Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” If you’re indoors, reading this with your lights on, be thankful Thomas Edison was a true entrepreneur!
If you found this article helpful, please share it with other entrepreneurs in your network. If you have questions about anything in this article, or would like my insight on a question about any aspect of the entrepreneurial process, please connect with me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thinkbigwithgeoffreykent), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/thinkbigwithgeoffreykent/), or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thinkbigwithgeoffreykent/). I also believe that 50% of entrepreneurs fail within 5 years, because they lack the resources to properly execute their vision. Leveraging what I’ve learned over a 40+ year successful entrepreneurial career, I’ve developed a methodology to help entrepreneurs build their unique customized strategy for responsibly scaling exponential business growth. To gain access to my 7-week online course, collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs through the exclusive “Think Big” Facebook group, regularly communicate with me, and gain access to my extensive professional network, connect with me on my course page (www.thinkbigwithgeoffreykent.com/).