My dear overachievers and A-type-get-er-done personalities…
How I envy you!
I am your faithful opposite.
While you sit in the driver’s seat and rev the supersonic engine of your dynamic lives…I’m in the back seat staring at cloud formations as they whiz past, taking in the blurred scenic views, catching a snooze here and there and drawing hearts in the mist I breathed onto the window…
I’m an entrepreneur that seriously. Cannot. Be. Bothered.
How then dare I even try? Or, even possess the audacity to try to be a successful entrepreneur at that!
I think have two important qualities:
Just enough ignorance to think I can!
Hahaha Totally kidding.
Alrighty, let’s move on, why don’t we...
Yes, so I know. Virtually every business publication on entrepreneurialism known to man trumpets the necessity of certain qualities that you must possess in order to join this apparently elite group.
Let me list a few of the mainstays to being the conventional successful entrepreneur:
….shall I go on, or do you get the idea?
Yes, I know. These types of lists perfectly explain why so many people that SHOULD be entering into the world of being their own boss - simply don’t.
None of this aforementioned list is actually entirely true. How do you explain the myriad of entrepreneurs that do not fit the archetype of these lovely adjectives?
Of course, these attributes can naturally take anyone far. I am not negating them – just trying to expand the definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
I think that there are other traits that are more useful for a brand of entrepreneurialism that will serve brilliantly to widen the point of entry for those who have thought about being an entrepreneur - but who think that they just don’t have what it takes.
I’m over here, busy banging pots and pans together calling all the “anti-entrepreneur” entrepreneurs to arms.
What qualities do you REALLY need to succeed as an entrepreneur?
No, you don’t even really require an amazing idea, a niche market, nor a much needed product or service up front.
You just need the following:
Oh, sweet passion! How we lose sight of you sometimes - that which makes us feel all giddy on the inside and causes sparking fireworks to swan dive out of our eyes.
Wow, getting clear on what we really want and what really rings our bell is an all out brawl in itself. Trust me! I know! I’ve spent half a lifetime duking it out with doubt.
No-one will tell you this, but this is the crux, friend: it takes COURAGE in order to stick a pin in your passion and yell at the top of your lungs: “THAT’S IT! THAT’S WHAT I WANT! THAT’S WHAT SETS ME ALIGHT!” Quite often, we feel embarrassed ashamed, wanton, undeserving, inadequate and for a very long time before we realize it… rather UNCERTAIN. Trust me! I know! I’ve been there – one thousand and one times multiplied by a million (yup! That’s A…LOT). Maybe I should just add an infinity sign to that. So, anyway…as I was saying...
People go through a whole lifetime not taking a chance on their passions and desires for entrepreneurialism. I boldly bid you, Brave One: don’t be one of them. If you have the good fortune to actually recognize your passion in any remotely clear fashion…pin that baby down and then go for it!
Think through it the best you can. I’m a huge believer in writing down your thoughts and ideas. And, to do so as comprehensively and as freely as possible!
This could take the form of brainstorming, journaling, putting together an actual business plan and sketching out an outline of how this idea, product or service might actually work. This includes research, an honest look at start-up costs and any legal/licensing that you might require.
That’s so easy peasy! Just call up your local, state/provincial or federal government office and ask away! Pepper the heck out of them with question marked sentences. There are also government and foundation grants to be had for some entrepreneurial endeavours that you might be able to apply for and cash-in on – especially in the not-for-profit sector.
One huge obstacle is playing the dangerous game of constant comparison.
If you don’t develop a little bit of tunnel vision to protect what it is you envision - you might stall in the dark. You need and want to get out into the light at the other end of your goals, so try to focus on yourself and what you need to do in order to accomplish what you have in mind.
I do agree that it’s worth your while to see how other people are doing it successfully and suss out the competition in the process. But, don’t let their establishment, accomplishments, level of current professionalism or polished image deter you! Always remember that you have something unique that no-one else brings to the table but YOU.
Put yourself rather in a position of being a learner and take note of what you like that others are doing that genuinely echo who you are and how you want to do it – and, then...GROW like there’s no tomorrow!
ASK ABOUT IT
Where your insight, knowledge or expertise fails or ends…someone else's begins and/or blossoms. So ask them about it!
There’s no shame in not knowing everything! Just check out my blog “The Double D’s of Getting Anything Done”. This inquiry could take the form of research online or in print - there is so much information and many resources out there begging for you to tap into them. Go ahead and slurp it up with a thick straw!
Seek out people who can fill in your skill gap or even people who can advise you with a wisdom informed by their proven experience and education. Make sure that you are careful who you share your desires and dreams with. While the absolute truth or a reality check is of course always welcomed - ensure that you surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you and understand your new course of action.
It’s better to have someone be the wind beneath your wings rather than have them knock the wind out of your sails.
Discouragement is always lurking around the corner and can strike at anytime like a viper!
It’s easy to second guess yourself or question yourself over and over again. And, while I am the first to tell you “I’ve been there!”, I’m also going to be the person that tells you DON’T GIVE UP! I remember a cool story about Walt Disney’s widow at the opening of Disneyland in Los Angeles, California.
Apparently, at the opening ceremony, a gentleman at the podium addressing Mrs. Disney said: “It’s a shame that Walt never got to see Disneyland.” (he died before it was entirely built). I love her reply! It was something to the effect of: “Actually, Walt did see it - everyday, in his mind and in his heart long before it was built.” This lady new the powerful visionary her husband was.
Before things become reality, they often exist in our hearts and mind with such astounding realism first that they might as well already exist!
I cannot preach enough about not “despising small beginnings”.
Feed that small dream and desire everyday, multiple times a day or as much as you can whenever inspiration hits you. Pretend it’s a voracious baby dinosaur, something huge and insatiable like a brontosaurus or a T-Rex (those are literally the only two dinosaurs I remember from my Stone Age elementary school days). Add something to what you’re building little by little - whether it’s making a phone call to an expert advisor, or writing down a few more ideas, or updating some information on social media or your blog/website.
Sowing some “seeds” is also a great idea such as handing out business cards wherever you go, telling people about what you do, tacking them up in target-rich environments. Think of your entrepreneurial aspirations like a Lego house – clicking together one tiny block at a time, using whatever windows of time or opportunity you have to have some building fun.
One overlooked component of nurturing an endeavour is taking some down time or quiet time to think. When you “talk over” those silent moments, you can fail to listen to or hear what inspiration is trying to whisper to you and gently nudge its way into your heart...
Putting yourself out there is the hardest thing to do when you’re afraid of failure. But, failure is a toothless tiger, my fellow jungle dwellers!
The best way to learn whether your idea, product or service will work out is to simply put it out there. Even if just a little at first. Trial and error (T & E) can be a powerful and informative teacher – sometimes even more than any course or workshop! Remember to remain engaged and active in the process of T & E – make notes, review numbers, try something totally different and ask the opinion of trusted or key people in order to improve.
Adding some active mindfulness and critical thinking or common sense to the process can really go a long way in accomplishing what you want and can save you time and money. I love sitting on an idea or a dream as much as anyone like a huge dino egg burgeoning with something fierce contained therein – BUT, you’ll never truly know unless you jump in and give it a go!
You’ll find that the people you’re trying to reach or serve are quite forgiving when they clearly see that you are 100% committed and humble in the face of change, room for improvement, learning, evolution and, most significantly - putting their needs first.
I cannot emphasize this enough. It does. not. matter. how gifted, experienced, savvy or well put together you seem or are as an entrepreneur - IF you don’t treat your peers or your customers well – you’re toast.
Being able to solve problems and resolve tense moments with customers or disputes with suppliers/vendors is bar none the key to your success. Showing respect and restraint is something that will set you apart and make anyone at anytime believe that you are the professional that you dream of.
Dealing with people is not always easy – especially when you have had no experience with the barbs or veiled attacks that might come your way and you’re already struggling with your confidence. But, how you learn to navigate and negotiate these tricky and sometimes hurtful exchanges will build your good reputation. And, a good name is worth millions!
I would recommend increasing your self-awareness as a person. Take some reputable personality tests and know where your sore spots or trigger points are. Role play and practice with someone that can help you hone your people skills.
People skills are the most underestimated resource – if you possess good conflict resolution and altercation diffusing prowess and are able to still leave a good taste in the other person’s mouth after a hot spot – you’re going to go far as an entrepreneur. Making people feel good about themselves and, simultaneously providing them with a sense of safety and confidence in what they are hiring you to deliver… is a thing of beauty!
Depending on your enterprise, I think the “X” factor that will set you apart is YOU.
While this doesn’t seem very exciting (only because, I can hardly find anyone who is totally gung-ho about being themselves all the time when they are privy to all the gaffes and low points of living life as them!)...have you sat down and really pondered this power-packed question?:
“What do I have that no-one else has?”. It’s that element of je ne sais quoi that breathes life and excitement into being an entrepreneur. Think you don’t have anything special? Au contraire!
Try to view yourself as objectively as possible, or seek the outside perspective of an insightful friend or colleague who knows you well and ask them what you have that no-one else has. You’d be so super surprised what comes out of this exercise. It could leave you feeling rather fabulous or at the very least serve up some soul food for thought.
Knowing your demographic and your target audience can also set you free and on the correct path to being the entrepreneur of your wildest dreams. Because, this automatically helps you develop a potent, unique and specific brand.
After all, I can reach a certain audience that even some of the most successful entrepreneurs can’t! And, so can YOU. You just have to define yourself and define your target demographic. Just like the mighty Oprah said: “You do you because I’ve already got Oprah down!”.
I’m itching to know if anyone has launched themselves as an entrepreneur recently.
Will you share in the comments below what you had to overcome and what you had to realize about yourself in order to become the entrepreneur that you always knew you could? Thanks so much!
So, you want to be an entrepreneur but still don’t think you can?
You can…you will…you must (well, only if you want to! Hehehe).
The most powerful tool in your personal arsenal – is your passion and persistence and the tenacious belief that you…yes YOU…can do this and can indeed have the business, practice, ministry or brand that you thirst for.
I'm that lone voice in the "Not Good Enough Wilderness" crying out against the onslaught saying it as loud as I can so that you and everyone else will hear:
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!
by Priya Devalia
Copyright ©PRIYA H. DEVALIA 2014 All rights reserved