Entrepreneurship, the illusion
Most people think of it as the act of setting up a business. Most people would be right.
The definition of entrepreneurship is simple enough to summarise in a single sentence, but to actually see it in action in real life takes longer than a few years.
The thing about entrepreneurship and its trendiness is that people fall for the illusion that it is easy; that all the e-commerce, web-hosting and e-marketing can be done for you without you lifting a finger, because there are other successful online businesses that provide these services.
And look, it’s true; it’s much, much simpler to start your business now than it was previously.
That does not, however, mean that it can in any way be considered easy.
The Fun-Crap-Fun Graph (Or Crap-Crap-Crap)
The thing about entrepreneurship is that it sounds fun on paper, in your head or on that blog you frequently read. It sounds interesting and profitable and exciting before you even begin.
You find out what’s the trending thing to build a business out of these days and you look up the internet to find out more about what this trending thing is and how easy it is to set up, and you research even more to find people who will set it up for you.
And that’s when you’ve fallen into the trap.
The trap of setting everything up, planning for the start, and then thinking that that’s all that’s needed for the business to continue. You’ve done your research, you’ve set everything up perfectly, so all you need to do is get your shiny new store website live and voila! You’re in business!
And then problems come in; not just one by one, but all at once, and the roof falls in, the money runs out and it’s not fun anymore. It’s pure, unadulterated hell and if you were in this business for the fun moments, it’s not going to last.
A business is not a toy, and it needs a consistent, committed, persevering team to run. You will scrape every last bit of grit from the bottom of your barrel and still find yourself short if you are not clear about what you’re doing this for and how much and long you are willing to commit.
So the first advice that we’d give for those who’re looking to be “entrepreneurs” for their Final Year Project in university?
Don’t do it.
If you are seriously considering starting your own business though, here are some roadblocks that many well-known and successful entrepreneurs have encountered.
Problem #1: I don’t know how to do it
The funny thing about many start-ups is that they’ll tell you that they “didn’t know how to do anything at the start”. They’ll mention lack of experience or expertise and tell you that they had to “learn on the way”.
But that doesn’t mean that you should do something you have completely no clue about. Everything sounds easy on the internet, because the people who write about them are experts. No one starts out as an expert, so be prepared to flop and fail many times before you succeed.
If you want to minimise your chance of failure, pick something you know and have passion for. In short: do what you already know.
Problem #2: I’d rather not do it if it’s not perfect
#FirstWorldProblems right here. Just like how rage-quitting is a thing, so too, is not starting something when you’re not sure it’s going to be perfect. Not successful, not good, but perfect. The problem stems from a fear of failure, but also how people are now much more self-conscious of how everyone else sees them. One man’s failure is everybody’s trending Insta-story these days, and you see it all around you.
But if you know what you’re in this for, you should stop thinking about what other people think and be like Nike: Just do it.
Problem #3: Self-doubt (Am I doing things right?)
Another problem with thinking too much about what other people think is how everyone wants to be a “team player” in a start-up and gather feedback. Everyone will have a different opinion on how things should be run, and if you start accommodating everybody’s vision you’ll end up with a business that has no vision at all.
So remember: Build your dreams, not others. Feedback is always important, particularly when everybody thinks it’s a bad idea except you, but you shouldn’t lose your direction to another’s.
Entrepreneurship is a mindset. Passion and talent can only get you so far, because passion dies and talent ends. They can’t be the stopgap that bridges a potential business to a successful one, because in order for a business to keep growing, you can’t stop moving forward.
When things become exhausting and failures pile up, you need to be able to grit your teeth and keep moving forward, until things look up and you find yourself on the right side of the Crap-Fun-Crap graph.