How Did I Build This Idea?
“ If you are a Guy Raz fan as much as I am, you get the title.”
I enjoy pursuing my curiosity and having a love affair with it. That magical feeling brings me to life. Sometimes, I also get lazy, and my fascination stays moot without further investigation. But, I decided not to let this one stay “moot.” For a while, I remained curious about “entrepreneurship” and the entrepreneurial journey. To stimulate and flirt with my fascination, I took part in a Harvard Business School Online course titled “Entrepreneurship Essentials.”
Throughout the course, we conducted an autopsy of business ventures from the point of incorporation, through the growth process, and potential success. What struck me the most was the remarkable shift in our overall perception towards entrepreneurship as a career path. While the majority of graduates/young professionals design their lives around a conventional career path, a growing number of people choose to build their own business.
Studies have shown the millennial are more inclined to seek individual liberty in our career optimization. Plus, today, being an entrepreneur sounds sexy, and we look to those entrepreneurs with admiration and an enormous amount of respect, at least I do! Besides, the stories of successful ventures are enormously stimulating and motivating. If we look around, we notice many people hold multiple titles and wear various hats. At the same time, they maintain success in their respective fields. I believe this is in part because, today, we are graced with unlimited possibilities; in part, many of us have multiple passions, and we remain engaged with that endearing heart of ours. Do we have to build a business to be labeled as “entrepreneurs?”
Re-defining the Concept of an Entrepreneur
Dare to challenge the conventional wisdom and define your own rules
English dictionary defines “entrepreneur” as as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk." Life is a big enterprise that we have to build brick by brick. We are organizing and designing our lives with such bravery that it involves all sorts of risks. Sometimes, life rewards our efforts, and at times, the risk was miscalculated, and we suffer losses in life. The second definition describes "entrepreneur” as “a promoter in the entertainment industry.” This world is one big WILD party. Who could be a better promoter and advocate for us than ourselves? By this analogy, aren’t we entrepreneurs in our own rights?
I elect to assign a third definition to the term “entrepreneur.” The way I see it, an entrepreneur refers to a person who relentlessly entertains all the options and ideas that are presented to them. This definition evokes one’s desire for creative living, and it has merits! Let’s unpack this!
We are the Designer of our Life
Be a believer in your magical creativity; We are the evolving creative souls
Our entrepreneurial journey starts as far back as our teenage years. After we grow into our adolescence, we often try to listen to our guardian’s instructions, or sometimes we rebel against them. That decision of disobeying, at times, comes with punishment. Again and again, we are exercising our options that will design our lives. How about the time when we get into several colleges? We choose our favourite and let go of other possibilities by exercising our pro-cons list unless our top choice desires us back, too!
After embarking on adulthood and leaving the shelter of our family, life gets messy. We are the ones in charge of our lives, which often means making difficult decisions. Our entrepreneurial journey becomes,hopefully, clearer as life unfolds, and our life story becomes our ultimate signature and art. We are artists and designers.
Some of the prominent business ventures are formed after it launched because the founders were open to embracing emerging opportunities while re-examining their deliberate strategy. Each one of us is doing precisely that as we go through this life journey without the entrepreneur title. When we start a school program, and if we learn that particular subject is not to our liking, we switch to the programs that fit our desire. The same analogy applies to our career. We are continually examining our strategy in life to paint it with more fascinating stories and decorate it with more colours. We are designers, creators, and entrepreneurs.
By pointing out this critical comparison, I hope you, my beautiful reader, can recognize the seeds that you are planting every day. We all are creative and beautiful souls. Life of an entrepreneur is endlessly unbridled, and we can learn a few things from the business entrepreneurs. If we desire to achieve excellence, some of the behaviours of entrepreneurs are worthy of examining. I identify the following behaviours and traits that worth applying in our life.
No Single Formula Defined the Successful Path to Entrepreneurship
As the title suggests, even in life, we stumble, we rise, and we thrive as long as we desire greatness in the face of challenges and adversity.
Studying the journeys of successful entrepreneurs and business ventures show that there is no single formula for success. They may share similar traits, resilience being one. However, that is a different issue. Even then, we shall avoid putting people in a category to justify some sort of resemblance the successful entrepreneurs share.
Entrepreneurs are Curious and Observant
A great entrepreneurial idea finds its way to an entrepreneur as a result of child-like inquisitiveness. When graced with inspiration and a phenomenal idea, entrepreneurs give them a massive hug as if a long lost lover knocked on the door one more time.
There is so much beauty in engaging with your curiosity. When curiosity touches our face, why not feel the warmth and kiss it right back! Better yet, let her be the best friend who holds our hand and take us to some magical places.
There exists a profound Uyghur saying that goes: "When it comes to knowledge, don't judge a man for not knowing. Judge him for not seeking." Seeking a solution originates from a place of curiosity. I, so, enjoy basking in the brilliance of our ancestors who imparted their wisdom for me to pursue my curiosity.
Curiosity leads to an opportunity
If we look closely, opportunities are everywhere. Entrepreneurs live and breathe for opportunity. They apply the cardinal improv principle, "yes...and." They believe in the presented idea. Hence, they flirt and dance with that idea to see if the two can make the most beautiful Tango. That flirtation and dance is the execution of the opportunity. Sometimes, entrepreneurs may stumble into the world of a discovery that leads to the creation of a business venture. It may sound very accidental; in reality, it is following up with their curiosity is the reason for the invention.
Once entrepreneurs make an assumption about this potential opportunity, they deploy all the resources to test their hypothesis and experimentation ensues until the magical creation of the business venture. Once an entrepreneur identifies an opportunity, they let the process of discovery guide them to bigger things. Once execution takes place, then the project takes the entrepreneur to his desired mission. By implementation, they get feedback that leads to a more significant discovery of their vision. Sometimes, entrepreneurs may stumble into the world of a discovery that leads to the creation of a business venture. It may sound very accidental but, in reality, it is following up with their curiosity is the reason for the invention.
Entrepreneurial spirit calls for embracing creativity
One of my favorite quotes from the author of Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert, is “creativity is a path for the brave.” Who are the braves? That encompasses all of us. How can it not be? We are the ultimate designers of our lives. Every decision we make will have an impact on our lives, and we are so bravely making those choices that will shape our career, life, relationship, and meaning in this world. That is bravery to me! It would only make sense for those braves to live with a creative and entrepreneurial mindset, take risks and leap of faith, invest in themselves, and bravely push boundaries.
Humility - Entrepreneurs Appreciate Their Limits
As a leader, entrepreneurs are well aware of their weaknesses. They are better at playing to their strengths and finding the right people to be in charge of the areas in which they lack the expertise. This also comes from humility that a leader should exemplify. Overplaying one's qualifications will not work in entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs Maintain Healthy Relationship with Failure
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” _ President Theodore Roosevelt 1970
It seems failure is not a word in a entrepreneur's dictionary. Instead, they consider failure as a temporary set back for the time being until they find a solution. More importantly, great entrepreneurs see failure as constructive experiences and a step in their growth process. They love every bit of the very "process" more than the end goal. Even at times when they fail out of the gate because they failed to design the right test to examine their assumptions regarding a potential opportunity. [This analysis is made within the context of entrepreneurship journey, not leadership]
In simple terms, entrepreneurs have thick skin. I feel entrepreneurs understand that failure will affect you only if you so allow. It takes such a strong will to shake off the shame, which often follows failure. We need to have the following conversation with shames: “Please have some boundaries in our relationship. Keep distance from us when we give something a try and courageously pursue our curiosity. You may jump into shame us when we are seduced to violate the ethical principles."
If you were to bet on anybody, choose to bet on yourself
When strictly interpreted, the entrepreneur is a savvy businessperson. Perception is in the eyes of the beholder. It doesn’t hurt to expand the definition of an entrepreneur to apply to all of us who are hustling day in and day out to design our lives for a better future! After all, we are the determined who are relentlessly pursuing our desires!