Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? Here is how to tell…
I have a Youtube channel that I have been running for about a year now. To be candid, it doesn’t have a ton of views… except for one video. The video is titled “The #1 Sign That You Should Quit Your Job” and has almost 6,000 views as of today.
Now to be candid, it’s a pretty bad video from a production quality standpoint, so I re-recorded it here… but that never got the same level of traction as the original.
Anyhow, there have been a few comments left on the video, but one that was left a couple days ago was particularly interesting. His initial question was how to know if he was ready to become an entrepreneur. He had started a food truck business and was thinking about going into it full time.
My initial response to his question was to focus on the financial aspect of entrepreneurship and provide guidance there. After all, getting the finances wrong is one of the leading killers of new businesses.
However, he came back with an interesting reply:
“My question is not so much financial as how do I know or at least how can I be confident that I am prepared both mentally and emotionally to deal with being self employed. I suppose that might sound silly but it would be reassuring to be able to recognize the right changes with in myself to make the leap hope that makes sense like what goals should I set to know.”
Are You Ready to be an Entrepreneur?
I found this question particularly insightful. The biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur is probably your own emotions. In fact, that is probably the biggest challenge in life (provided you live in a first world country with decent social services).
When I worked at a startup earlier in my career, the speed with which we could go from on top of the world to concerned about our jobs was shocking. Sometimes it was as little as a day between these emotions.
If you are the founder (or CEO) of a business, these ups and downs hit you the hardest as you cannot share them fully with your team. Yes, being an entrepreneur tends to be a lonely business…
So what was my advice to this individual?
Be ready to own your mistakes as an entrepreneur
A good executive never, ever places the blame on the world around her… and she always has solutions to the challenges at hand.
I can tell you one of the major differences I see with the $200k+ senior executives I work with relative to the more junior professionals:
The senior executives identify a problem and its cause and then say, “…and I need to come up with a solution for that problem and present it to my boss.”
The more junior professionals say, “…this is not an excuse but…” and then they go on to list a whole bunch of excuses, and then say, “…so it’s a difficult situation.”
Now in the corporate world, the latter attitude can work for a while. It certainly makes you feel good… You may not get promoted, but you won’t get fired for it either.
As an entrepreneur there is exactly zero room for blaming circumstance. The economy may have tanked, a supplier may have failed you, an employee may have quit. -It doesn’t matter. You are only ready to be an entrepreneur when you are willing to own every failure.
Why? Because complaining to your parents or friends or spouse or whoever won’t solve your problem when you are an entrepreneur. The only solution is you… your efforts, your leadership, your action.
You must fully embrace your responsibility before you are ready to be an entrepreneur.
Become more Resilient
The ability to bounce back from adversity is critical. Here is what the American Psychological Association has to say about it, from their website:
“Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.
The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.”
In my experience, knowing something intellectually is easy, but feeling it emotionally is far more difficult. If you are wondering if you are ready to be an entrepreneur, I would highly recommend reading more on the subject (See: Resilience by Andrew Zolli).
-And on a side note, I find that exercise and meditation are wonderful for building my emotional resilience on a day to day basis.
So, are you ready to be an entrepreneur? I’m not sure that it is possible for anyone else to tell you. But, when you are ready to own your situation, have your financial issues sorted out and have put systems in place to ensure your emotional resilience, you are probably looking good.