Entrepreneurship! This 16 letter word has so much power and yet projects so much fear. It is a dreaded word for some and a liberating journey for others. For me it is a liberating journey. Yes, it's challenging. It definitely gets tough sometimes. There are days when you are going to feel like you are on your last leg of hope and then there are days when you are gliding on the clouds. It is indeed a roller coaster of emotions. But these varying cycles of emotion I wouldn't trade for the world. Sometimes I do have to remind myself of my faith, my hope and who I belong to, but even those days are counted as joy.
My entrepreneurship journey started a little more than two years ago. I had enjoyed more than 13 years in corporate America in the hospitality industry and nine plus years in academia. When I decided it was time to plunge into the deep waters of entrepreneurship I was completing my first year as an associate dean of online learning for a local university. It was a dream job. I was quickly progressing toward my dream of becoming a university president. And just like that my heart began to change. And while I certainly felt like I was making a difference in the world of education. My heritage, my legacy, my footprints in the sand were calling me. I knew I was born to do more, to be more, and to impact the world in a different way. I was never good with the status quo. I was never one to blindly accept what someone said. I was a born leader. This leadership ability had been proven in every administrative and management position I'd held up to that point. Looking back, if there was only one thing that I wish I had done a little differently, it would be preparing financially a little more. But then again, I don't know if I would have ever felt really prepared for the leap.
This is what I do know. Everything happens the way it should. There is a purpose for all things under the sun. Even my being not financially prepared happened perfectly.
What is entrepreneurship?
So here's how I define entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is when you step out on your own, completely trusting in your faith and your own abilities to bring in an income. It doesn't necessarily mean you are not working for someone, because we are always going to work for someone. Perhaps, not in the conventional 9 to 5 sense, but someone will always be demanding something. You may be a contractor. For example, one of my jobs, is as an online professor for a couple of schools. I work on contract. But there are timelines and schedules that I have to keep up with. And keep in mind you are always working for your customers, customers are very demanding and rightly so. As a consumer myself when I spend my money I expect to receive the value of that money. I also own an online fashion boutique for women. I am also a career coach. The point is you are always working for someone, even if its your customers.
But here's the kicker. Entrepreneurship means that you are the creator, marketer and promoter of your business or businesses. Whether you succeed or fail is truly in your hands. When we work for an organization, we leave the overarching responsibility of profitability and success to the CEO, the owners, and the corporate office. They make the decisions that will affect the bottom line of the corporation.
When you are an entrepreneur, you are all of those things. The CEO, owner and corporate office. Your everyday decision affects your bottom line. I guess that's probably why it could be a bit scary.
So why do we do it? Why do some of us take that leap?
Why should you take that leap?
It is definitely an individual decision. It is not something that should be done lightly and on a whim, but I still say it's worth trying. The experience and lessons learned on this journey are more powerful than you can imagine. If you are a student of life this is one of the greatest lessons to be learned. Through this journey I learned so much about myself. I've found strengths and weaknesses that had not been discovered. I've found lost courage and determination like no other. I've even found a hidden stubbornness that has evolved and continues to grow.
There are definitely pros and cons to taking the plunge. I think it may be a little different for some, but for most, the same basic pros and cons apply. Here's my list:
I am self-employed
My income depends on how much effort is put into the business
My time is my own. It does not belong to anyone else. No one dictates my time to me. I don't have to clock in or clock out or report to anyone. I can work till 3am in the morning and have my days free or I can work all day and all night. It really depends on how successful I want to be.
My success is completely dependent upon my actions.
I work for myself. No one to tell me what to do or guide me or give me a job description.
My income depends on how much effort I put into my business.
Long days and long nights
At first vacations are hard to come by
It can be a lonely journey
May lose fickle friendships and relationships
I think the pros and cons are pretty self-explanatory. Many great things about entrepreneurship are also the things that make it not so great. It is certainly not a cake walk. I've found that if you have the guts to step out into this world you already know that.
Some of my clients ask me how do you know if you're ready or what are the qualities and traits of an entrepreneur? I am sure these qualities and traits will evolve over time, but I think these are definitely the very basics.
Qualifications and traits of entrepreneurs
Confidence in your abilities
Determination to win and not let failure deter you
Willingness to try until you succeed
I think these foundational traits will take you far. If I had to offer any suggestions for budding entrepreneurs I would suggest the following:
Prepare yourself mentally, spiritually, emotionally and financially
Take some time to prepare yourself for this journey. Do your research in the market you are interested in pursuing. Do your research on entrepreneurs who are successful as well as those who have failed. Most times they are one and the same. Ask questions. Prepare yourself mentally for the journey and don't expect an easy payday. As much as possible, save money for the first year. Imagine you will be out of work for the first year and save enough to cover you. However, this can also backfire. I think not having enough kicks you into third gear.
Prepare yourself, but don't procrastinate. Fear is operating when you are just waiting for that perfect time. There is no perfect time. Entrepreneurship is risky. If there was a perfect time it would be called something else. Understand you will never feel completely prepared. It is that emotion, that uncertainty that will keep you grinning.
Be willing to ask questions
Don't reinvent the wheel. Know that somebody somewhere has already tried what you are attempting. Google is a great resource, use it often. People are a great resource. Never underestimate their experiences. Keep in mind that you can actually learn the most from those who failed. They can certainly tell you what not to do.
Never envy your seemingly successful colleagues
Taking the time to watch others stops your progress. Always support and help as many as you can. You never know when that hand will be coming back to you.
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