Entrepreneurship isn't easy. To demonstrate this there are many, many metaphors I could throw at you. We've all heard the one about business being a marathon and not a sprint. Personally, I think it's more like climbing up a mountain. Here's why.
It's long and arduous, and you can bet you're going to experience blood, sweat and tears during the journey, but you persevere because the view from the top is amazing. On your way up, you reach little lookout points which serve as a reminder of why you're doing it and it encourages you to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Sometimes you look down and realize how far you've come and you feel immensely proud of yourself. Other times you look up and feel overwhelmed at how far there is left to climb.
Also, there are numerous ways to get up that mountain and no path is right or wrong. As entrepreneurs, we're all metaphorically making our way up to the summit. Some of us are sprinting up the steep incline while some are moving at a steady walking pace on the well-trodden path. A handful of budding business owners may be taking a more scenic route and admiring the stream and the tulips out back. Heck, others are climbing straight up the cliff face, heavy backpacks on their shoulder with no safety net to catch them if they make a wrong move. But we're all on our way to the same place and the truth is we can all get there, no matter which route we take.
So what's the problem? The challenge is, there are a smorgasbord of people out there telling you the best way up the mountain. Here are three people to avoid if you ever want to leave base camp.
Yep I made it up, and nope it's not a real word. As the name suggests, these people will never be entrepreneurs. Sticking with the mountain analogy for a second -- these are the types standing at the base of the mountain, hands on their hips, arguing over the best way to get to the summit. Or better yet, many of these folks are sat on the couch at home watching other people scale great heights and muttering about how they are doing it all wrong. It's easy to be an armchair coach. It's much tougher to get out there and actually get it done. If you're going to take advice from anyone, make sure it's from those who have gone out there and done what you are hoping to do. To look at it another way -- don't take advice from someone unless you want to end up where they are.
When I was starting out, I met with a friend-of-a-friend. I was told this person was in the know about business and could help guide me on the path to entrepreneurship. What I didn't know is how this person's business had failed and so he didn't exactly have a rosy view of life as a business owner. As a result, I was met with was the following: "Do you know how many entrepreneurs fail within the first three years? Let me tell you the stats." You know what? Thanks, but I'm going to decline your offer. Because as a new entrepreneur, the last thing you need is someone telling you how tough it's going to be and how likely you are to fail. You already know this, because you're smart and if you weren't then you wouldn't be thinking about setting up shop on your own. My advice? Steer clear of meetings with people who have failed in business. It will totally kill your vibe.
Family and Friends
This one sounds counter-intuitive. You love what you do and you want to share it with your loved ones, right? Of course. But here's the thing. Your loved ones are just that -- they love you, and so any advice they give you will be clouded with this love. And that can be awesome, knowing you can go to them for support when you are struggling and in need of some encouragement. But as for constructive feedback, your family and your friends are not going to give this to you (and it's a good thing).
Thinking back to when I was a kid, my mom would keep all of my artwork and display it along a prominent wall in the kitchen. We would see it every day and it made me feel proud and happy that my creations were in full view. It gave me my first platform to showcase my creativity and for that I'm truly grateful. But I also recognize that those creations were, if I may say so myself, absolute garbage. Why am I sharing this? Because those we have known for a very long time rarely change the way they see us. And so to your family and long-time friends, you're still that little kid holding up a drawing made of sloppy paint and dried spaghetti. Of course they're not going to tell you it's crap -- that would hurt your feelings.
Above all else, do you know who's the best person to take advice from? Yourself. Yep, you read that right.
You're smart and you already know what you need to do. So get out there and scale that mountain.
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