Week 6 — Questioning Entrepreneurship
You know you’re having first world problems when you’re racking your brain for the whole week, thinking about what to write about.
It seemed like nothing really spoke to me, as though every piece of information that I had consumed via an assortment of audiobooks, podcasts and articles, failed to inspire me.
I would mentally plan to embark on multiple topics and end up scrapping it, because it felt as though I wasn’t being @authientic. I realised that being as raw and real as I could was important to me. Although it is fun to share the interesting insights that I had gotten throughout the week, there comes a point of time where sharing my opinion matters. It may seem naïve to think, but in an industry where countless of fake people pursue ideas solely for the sake of money, ego and fame, staying true to oneself is an awfully rare trait that should be carefully nurtured.
Many cynics scoff at my childish statement, but that’s okay, because it’s much easier to shit on other people’s optimism than to admit introspectively that they lead sad and unfulfilled lives.
This week was an especially tough week emotionally, with people dropping out of the venture building programme that I’m in. Many thoughts begin to surface when I came to terms with the news.
Why? What’s wrong with the programme?
Up till now, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the why.
It led me to question myself as well. Not so much about the why, but rather identifying the pillars of entrepreneurship that I hold dear to me.
I didn’t want to look up any books or internet definitions because that would mean I was taking the coward’s way out. It’s much simpler to look for answers externally than to exercise introspection because part of that process would require a full or partial visitation of all the painful experiences throughout my journey.
By no means is this definition meant to be taken as a yardstick of what entrepreneurship could mean to you.
Here are my 3-Ps of entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is about Profit
Many people have delusions of grandeur about entrepreneurship and businesses in general. They think that just because a startup receives mass amounts of funds during their seed funding phases, it means that they are profitable.
Many times, investors pump loads of cash into these great ideas because they believe in the growth of the company. Many gloss over the inability to turn a profit in favour of growth and the media hypes up their “success” leading to more and more attention, adding fuel to the fire.
In the case of Wework and Uber, we see what happens when investors continually pump in money but yet don’t see any profit coming out of their investments. Worse still, when they realise that their money is being blown away to host Beyoncé at a company retreat, this becomes extremely dangerous.
I’ve always looked at this fundraising model and saw parallels between the great financial crisis. People were acting crazy, making decisions that made no business sense.
I see a possible bubble brewing in the works.
Entrepreneurship is about People
Entrepreneurship is NOT about you or your problems. It’s about solving your customer’s problems.
Many times, people start businesses because they think that people want the same things as they do. Don’t get me wrong, it does work and there are times where people do want what you want.
But there’s an unnecessary risk here that entrepreneurs choose to swallow. By making an assumption that their buying criteria is the same as yours without proper validation, you have begun to build a house on sand.
No matter whether you’re an one-man-army or you’re working with your founding team to bring your idea into fruition, you’re constantly working with people.
Being a leader and working in a team is hard to manage. It requires a lot of patience, trust, communication and time to build a system that works between different parties.
A friend of mine (whom I shall keep anonymous) is working on an idea with a leader that tries a little too hard to be someone he’s not. He constantly nags at my friend for “freeloading” even though there’s nothing to be done, undermines her work by scrapping everything she works on and guilt-trips her for taking X% of the “company”.
That’s right, this wannabe is giving my friend X% of an imaginary company. He has already taken the delusional stance that his idea is a winning idea and it is going in 1 direction — Straight to IPO.
If I’m being completely honest, the only place his idea is going is straight into the trashcan if he continues to lead people with the wrong approach.
Entrepreneurship is not about being a Pussy
There comes a point in your life where you need to make a decision. The definition of decision in the Hebrew language literally means to cut off.
When you’re at a fork in the road, you have to cut off one path in favour of the other.
“If you want to take the island you need to burn the boats.” — Tony Robbins.
Tony Robbins puts it perfectly. You can fall into the trap of analysis-paralysis and continue to swim in the comfort zone of numbers and opinions. But once it’s time to make a decision, you have to burn the boats.
The one common thing that I hear from the people I meet is that they are too afraid to try out a business idea.
“I’m worried about food safety”
“I’m not business savvy”
“I don’t know how to code”
All of these sweeping statements point to one thing: people are not willing to invest time and effort into something that can secure their family’s financial future.
Many would rather dump money into REITs or stocks on a whim than to learn the tools of kingdom building.
Entrepreneurship is not for pussies.