Why would you want to ever be an entrepreneur?
Its a largely under-appreciated, underpaid, overworked and frustrating role. The worst part is the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) created by yourself and a constant battle to fight your own daemons.
Of these I am going to focus on one part. The state of “not knowing”.
Just so you know, once you become an entrepreneur, you are perpetually in a state of the unknown.
There will always be more unknowns than known’s. There should always be (and there are) more questions – about your market, about the product, your ability to deliver, the team, your ability to raise funds, your ability to execute – the list is endless. Each new milestone ends up bringing you more questions from others and those who call themselves “insiders”.
For the few that are zen-like and do meditation to calm the soul, its rewarding to find such rich fodder for practice.
For the rest of us, who are mere mortal entrepreneurs, it is the most frustrating part.
Things will always be in a flux.
That’s where you have to draw your strength from.
Its important to know that everyone else is in the same state.
Which is why entrepreneurship is vastly underrated.
An entrepreneur’s optimism is infectious. She envelopes you with her obsession for the problem she’s trying to solve. She speaks with the eloquence of a seasoned televangelist and the passion of Russian gym coach trying to urge her prized student to over perform.
The entrepreneur’s optimism is all encompassing. The hurdles she faces daily including lack of connections, lack of credibility or even the inability to meet payroll don’t deter her. Her optimism overwhelms her outlook towards the daunting problems we mortals face daily.
The entrepreneur’s optimism is never ending. She knows (possibly) at the back of her mind that the odds are stacked against her. That’s what makes her admirable – she does not care. As far as she’s concerned, she’s not giving up, either today, tomorrow or when gas prices hit $200 per gallon.
I had a good friend and entrepreneur who I spoke with last week who was at his wits end. Having been at it for 9 months working on their product, they had completed an alpha version, beta version and released a version 1. They had gotten over 50,000+ users for their application, seen a lot of traction, only to find 2 weeks of slower growth in new user additions. That made him question everything.
The questions were valid and very relevant. The assumptions they made were not quite the right ones, so things were in a state of flux.
A few investors had seen their momentum and were interested in funding the company. He, was now simply paralyzed.
Unsure if he should take the funds because more things were unknown than known, or lead himself to believe that the money will offer him answers to the questions he had.
Even entrepreneurs who have been through this several times find this issue to be a constant source of frustration.
Things are always in a flux.
They will always be in a startup.
If they are not, then you have become a “big company” and while there are merits to being a big company, startups are a LOT more fun.
If you call being in a state of constant flux fun.
There are those that thrive in that environment. I use one trick (it is a mind trick) to make things seem fun.
I imagine how much more frustrating it would be if I were at a large company, dealing with the politics of multiple teams, conflicting priorities and boring daily routines.
Then I feel better about the fact that I as an entrepreneur, control my own destiny.
Nothing’s more liberating than that.