Entrepreneurship is ______________________.
No matter how you finished that sentence, you’re probably right.
Entrepreneurship isn’t one thing to all people.
If we check with the Oxford Dictionary, entrepreneurship is defined as:
“the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”
I prefer this description of entrepreneurship from Oberlo:
Here’s the thing, the definition of entrepreneurship is less important than what you believe to be true about entrepreneurship.
Why does what you believe matter? It will help form your experiences, struggles and successes as an entrepreneur.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there that can make entrepreneurship tougher than it needs to be.
My mission is to help more people create success on purpose.
8 truths about entrepreneurship
Let’s explore eight truths about entrepreneurship to help smooth out some of the rough spots for you.
Entrepreneurship is a journey
This is only partly true.
Entrepreneurship is a series of journeys stitched together with purpose.
It’s a journey of your creation, and you get to map the course.
Does that feel exciting or intimidating?
You might even be thinking that how you feel will depend on which leg of the journey you’re on, which is often the case.
The best part about embracing the fact that entrepreneurship is a constant journey rather than a single destination is that one bad day is just that, one bad day.
Any step or misstep is one step.
Focus on the big picture and the next right step.
When you can do this, the journey and each point along the way aren’t as scary or final.
When you do that, your aim shifts to progress, not perfection.
Entrepreneurship isn’t always a pretty picture
Entrepreneurship is a journey and the reality is that every day won’t be sunshine and rainbows.
In a world filled with Insta-perfect pictures and orchestrated photoshoots, it can sometimes seem like we should have all our ducks in a row, all the time.
Life and entrepreneurship don’t operate in a picture-perfect orderly manner.
There will be days when you have it all together, and also days when things go wrong in spite of your best efforts.
In my mind, those shiny produced images of entrepreneurship should come with a disclaimer similar to mascara or weightloss ads.
“This depiction of entrepreneurship has been staged and does not accurately depict the real everyday experience of growing a business.”
Whatever entrepreneurship looks like for you reflects your life and business. Some days will look better than others, and that’s fine.
Drop any expectations of perfection.
You do you 💪
You don’t need to burn out to be successful
We’ve all heard the stories of the poor entrepreneur chained to their computer. Stuck in a perpetual cycle of the hustle and grind.
Maybe these are meant to create balance in the universe and offset Insta-Perfection.
Sometimes I wonder how so many of us decide to join the party if that’s the story of entrepreneurship we buy into.
Most of us fool ourselves into believing that it’s the price of success and that long-term rewards will be worth it.
That is a lie that’s been perpetuated by hustle culture.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way.
Hard work >> YES
Hustle ‘til it hurts >> NO
Stop believing that to be successful entrepreneurship has to be a 24/7 struggle.
Here’s a great article to check-in on whether you’re a card-carrying member of the hustle culture club.
Since you probably started on this entrepreneurial journey for freedom and flexibility, it’s time to take control of your schedule and set boundaries. It’s your job as the boss.
Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be hard all the time
It’s incredible how talented we humans are at making things more complicated or harder than they need to be.
It may sound too simplistic, but things are only as difficult as we make them.
Yup, if you believe it will be hard, it’ll be hard.
Now, you might be thinking that some things are complicated or hard.
Kind of. There will be tasks that take longer to figure out or master.
However, if you’re stuck in the idea that something is going to take forever to do or will always be painful, how will you be open to a path to easy street?
When you make this one shift, you’ll be open to new solutions and find ways to make it easier.
Imagine trying to drive a nail into a board with a screwdriver.
If for whatever reason, you believe the screwdriver is the only way to get the job done, you aren’t likely to look for a different tool to get the job done.
You will eventually finish driving in the nail, but a hammer would make it quick and easy.
Are you ready to stop making things harder than they need to be? Good.
Entrepreneurship is a team sport
But, what if I’m a solo entrepreneur?
Most entrepreneurs are or start out that way, but that doesn’t mean you should do it all alone.
This is one of the biggest self-inflicted challenges I see.
It’s easy to appreciate where this comes from since the journey of entrepreneurship is often portrayed as a solo-trek.
The truth is that nobody makes it to the top alone.
Let’s explore this climbing analogy.
When people summit Mount Everest, it’s their climb, but they do not do it alone.
They need help to get there, they don’t make the gear from scratch, they go up in groups, and there are sherpas with more experience on the mountain to guide them.
Trying to do it all alone will keep you stuck longer and lessen the progress you could make.
Keep in mind that your version of “not going it alone” will be different from everyone else’s and it should be.
Your business is unique.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Assess what your business needs
- Identify where you need support
- Seek advice, feedback and help
- Learn from others
You will get further faster when you stop trying to go it alone.
Entrepreneurship is as much about the wrong answers as it is about the right ones
I understand that this may sound confusing but stay with me.
By now I hope you’ve come to terms with the fact that you’re going to miss the mark and do so often.
This can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, which is understandable.
For most of our young lives as students, the focus is on correctness. We would lose marks for the wrong answers.
This works when there is only one right answer, and things can be categorized as pass/fail.
Truth time >> Entrepreneurship isn’t like a test at school.
There is often more than one right answer, plus the wrong answers can lead us to big breakthroughs.
Sometimes the answer may not exist yet and you need to discover a plausible one.
This is counterintuitive to our previous experiences and understanding of the world. No wonder it can be a lot to wrap our minds around.
With entrepreneurship, we need to experiment and embrace hitting wrong answers on our way to better ones.
However, be fair with yourself.
In the beginning, you may find yourself afraid to try or burdened by old expectations of a perfect test score.
This is sometimes referred to as failing forward.
To paraphrase John. C. Maxwell, failing forward is using mistakes as stepping stones for success.
Sure, it can be hard to shake old patterns of being, but it can be liberating to know that each wrong answer is still a step toward a successful result.
Growing a business is a slow burn
Now, before you come at me with an overnight success story, let’s agree that those are outliers.
Outlier: a person or thing that is atypical within a particular group, class, or category (Merriam-Webster)
Most people will try more than one offer, venture, package, etc. before they have a profitable business they love.
Again, it’s a process and a journey.
However, here’ the catch, it can feel like there’s no movement or progress.
Even without major setbacks, you can be doing all the right things and it may seem like everything is at a standstill.
In moments like this, and we all have them from time to time, I remind myself of the old saying, “Watched water never boils.”
The truth is that it will boil, eventually.
However, the point is that the boiling process is happening even if we can’t see evidence of it right away.
Science time >> The water molecules are speeding up even before we see the first bubble, which we take as visual evidence that the water is beginning to boil.
Just like boiling water, growing a business requires consistent heat (action) and patience.
Too often people give up on a solid strategy or tactic because they don’t see the rolling boil right away.
There are a lot of get to 7-figures while you sleep stories out there so let’s ground our expectations in a little reality.
According to this article from FreshBooks, it takes two to three years for a business to become profitable on average.
So although it may seem like nothing is working, if you’re doing the right things in the right way, you’ll get the results you desire.
Trust the process, be patient and give it time to work.
You are not your business
Entrepreneurship tests people like almost nothing else can.
Parenting is the only other situation that is about on par with growing a profitable business. (You parents out there know what I mean. It tests us.)
A problem arises when people wrap up their identity in that of the business. This leads to taking things far too personally.
For example, a promotion will flop and we attach some meaning to the outcome like if the promotion wasn’t successful, we can’t be successful.
That’s not only false, but a dangerous way to operate your business.
Often when we hit a roadblock in our business, how we approach it and whether we move past it or not, depends on who we are being.
Are you being somebody defined by the business or somebody who defines the business?
The difference may seem subtle, but it’s hugely important.
If we think of business as a ship you’re navigating, how you pilot the ship determines the course and the destination.
As your confidence and capabilities grow as a business owner, your ability to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship also grows.
So, although you aren’t your business, your business can be a reflection of you.
What do I mean by this?
Personal growth and business growth are often tightly bound together.
Examining an area of your business that isn’t working well, like closing sales, may uncover areas within yourself that could use some bolstering.
It’s often mindset issues, not just business issues, that keeps people stuck.
A few of the usual suspects that could come into play when struggling to close sales could be imposter syndrome, issues with owning your worth or playing small.
One of the quickest ways to solve major business woes and spur growth is a long look in the mirror and dig into your limiting beliefs.
It isn’t always easy or fun but can be a game-changer for your business.
Entrepreneurship is what you make it
Now that you’ve taken this trip with me through these eight truths about entrepreneurship, what are you going to do with them?
Your journey is unique to you, and your experience with entrepreneurship will depend greatly on what you believe.