Tuesday, 24 July 2012 Written by Marcella Chamorro
How Has Entrepreneurship Built Your Character?
There's something questionable about ditching a salaried job and jumping into the hectic life of a startup. You lose tranquility and peace of mind, but you gain exhilaration and complete creative control. It might sound incredibly fun and worthwhile to us, but the people around us might think we're off our rockers.
As an entrepreneur myself, I've encountered heavy resistance against my projects and ideas. Most people around me don't understand the risk I'm taking, so they question my decisions and give me a hard time. Families, friends, and mentors all feel a bit doubtful because they want what's best for me. That just means I have a bigger team supporting me, if only I can convince them that the entrepreneurial path is the right one for me.
So, you know what I tell those people about my decision to jump into the wild wild world of entrepreneurship? I say: independent of either succeeding or failing, I am learning more than I signed up for and building character in a way that affects every angle of my life.
As an entrepreneur, building character happens with each new learning, success, and misstep. It's something that can be applied to your business to help it grow and to your life to make it more enjoyable. Here are some ways your entrepreneurial venture is building your character:
1. Awesome ideas need nurturing
Scott Belsky wrote an entire book, called Making Ideas Happen, about managing the "idea plateau" that inevitably happens after the project's luster and excitement wears off. In his theory, Scott describes the plateau that most projects enter after the team loses energy in execution. What happens is, teams lose energy, the project plateaus, and then an exciting new idea pops up, and the entire process happens all over again.
While not all teams abandon projects when they lose their excitement, the truth is that all entrepreneurs face the drudgery of working on their great ideas at times when they no longer feel like it. By pushing through and doing the work when it needs to get done, entrepreneurs build character and stamina for important work.
2. Building a team means building responsibility
In past jobs, I had managed a staff before, but I had never been responsible for their salaries, benefits, and work methods. Hiring a team for my startup meant setting the work rules, but it also meant taking on the responsibility that each team member implied. Every person's choice to join my team (and leave their past job) meant that families and futures were in my hands. Failure is no longer an option when it isn't just your career on the line. Entrepreneurs can take this responsibility in two ways: 1) fold under the pressure and not build a team at all, or 2) use the pressure as motivation to make the project work in any way possible. It's up to each entrepreneur to make the leap and make it happen for the entire team.
3. Living for the weekend isn't proper living
When I signed up for creating my startup, I said goodbye to weekends and vacations. Entrepreneurs know well that weekends don't really exist. Every project is different, but most projects aren't limited to weekdays. Projects need attention constantly, independent on the day of the week. Startups certainly allow for more flexibility, so I can work and check in with the team from Mexico City or Portland, but I definitely always have my "working" hat on. By working some weekends and late nights, entrepreneurs prepare themselves mentally and physically to do hard work when it's necessary.
Entrepreneurship isn't only about the money — it's also about the life you're creating. Understanding how your projects impact your life and character is a great way to make sure you circle back and apply your learnings to the venture itself.
As an entrepreneur, how do you feel your project has helped build your character?
Marcella Chamorro just released a book on authenticity in marketing, titled To Be or Like to Be, and she also writes for her blog on lifestyle & marketing. She is a blogger, speaker, and consultant based in Managua, Nicaragua, working on creating technologies to help people be more creative.