Close your eyes and imagine.
The bright lights of success. The powerful emotion of having a simple, humble idea and seeing it manifest. The satisfaction of seeing all your sacrifices make sense. The importance of legacy.
Entrepreneurship is truly the modern-day drug, seeking to enter the bodies and minds of the ambitious, the driven, those with a desire for purpose and meaning.
Now open your eyes, to the reality.
Would it be fair to say that the entrepreneur is the modern-day superman or superwoman? I would wager that even the creators of Marvel and DC Comics are yet to rival the power and allure of the entrepreneur!
Yet, we live in a UK culture where entrepreneurial failure is seen as a bad thing. The scars of your wasted efforts become a brand that carries an air of disappointment. Unfair maybe, true, absolutely.
In the US, the more you fail, the more you are noted as credible and capable of executing your solution to an identified problem, better than anyone else.
But the societal perception of entrepreneurial success or failure, is a lie.
Here is the simple truth as to why: Only you can truly define what success means to you.
I truly and passionately believe that, at its core, entrepreneurship is nothing to do with business, but about how you free the leader within you.
Whether it is about the feeling of finally being able to pay your bills on time, to feeling the love of changing just one life in your community, right through to the validity of living the vida loca with more 000’s in your bank account than you could ever imagine, the act of entrepreneurship is more about:
- the definition of your values as a person
- how you seek to define your own life and in doing so,
- evolving into who you will become.
Nothing can ever truly prepare you for the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual journey that being an entrepreneur takes you on.
I remember when I started my first ever business – I remember making my own business cards out of some spare A4 card, using Microsoft Publisher to design them myself, bought a £10 laminator to wrap them so they would last longer, and started contacting schools, to see if they would let me support their pupils from BAME backgrounds at risk of exclusion.
I did not have a clue about how to run a business. But I could not shift the ache in my soul to help diverse people who felt like society would not enable them to maximise their potential, because of their difference. I knew what that felt like.
Roll on 18 years and 6 start-ups later, (3 out and out failures, 2 made a very decent living, 1 to become the generational legacy), I have faced many personal challenges, depression, went back to a full-time job, hated every minute, started all over again, to becoming a public speaker and humbly receiving an OBE from the Royal Family and more.
But I can tell you that it does not get easier. You may become more mature and a little wiser, but the sadistic desire to embrace the pain and strife of entrepreneurship, in return for more knowledge of self and the achievement of a higher purpose NEVER goes away.
As I write this and reflect on my journey so far, several lessons come to mind that I would like to share with you:
1) Have a clarified vision
A clarified vision enables you to gain clarity on your WHY, and stops you from chasing unrealistic dreams with no sense of order; mainly because you become more aware of how this vision affects you holistically, rather than commercially alone
2) Embrace your own vulnerability
Embracing your own vulnerability empowers you to be proud of who you are, warts and all. The strength of accepting and loving yourself unconditionally gives permission for others to do the same, and connect with you in a truly authentic manner, without all the BS and bravado.
3) Watch how you speak to yourself
How you speak to yourself (internally or otherwise) can have a direct effect on your success. Simply put, your self-language creates thoughts. Thoughts create emotions. Emotions create actions.
Actions give you the results you want or do not want, so learn to be present about what you say to yourself in the first place.
4) Be committed to change
As an entrepreneur, you start a business for a reason/s that are important to you and your team (including family and friends).
Being committed means you are willing to do what is needed to make it all work. But the ability to remain resiliently agile, lies at the core of commitment; the journey is never a straight line, so mastering the art of moving direction without taking your eyes of your prize, is essential.
5) Seek support.
Forget the hero complex. It is overrated.
True success is found in the humility to learn the lessons you don’t want to be taught, but with the confidence to empower others to teach you.
There is a saying that leaders are born not made. Whichever you believe, entrepreneurship (whether through the vehicle of a business, or even as an employee within an organisation) has the power to shape you from the person who you were, into the person you will become.
Are you ready to find out who that person really is?