“For each person who cares enough to make something, who is bold enough to ship it, who is generous enough to say, “Here, I made this.”… There are ten people who say, “I could have done it better.” A hundred people who say, “Who are you to do this?” A thousand people who say, “I was just about to do that,” and ten thousand people who don’t care at all. And all of that is okay, because the person we need, the one we cherish, the one we would miss, is the first person, the initiator, the one who cares…” ~Seth Godin
Every week someone sits in front of me and tells me their new business idea. Often with an infectious enthusiasm and certainty most of us are too self-conscious to show. And as I listen, evaluate and start to strategize on their behalf – usually formulating tough follow-up questions – I might neglect to say the thing I almost always think.
I’ll admit it, some ideas are better than others, and sitting in that chair I’ve seen quite a range in preparedness, forethought and business savvy. But bravery is ubiquitous amongst the entrepreneurs I meet.
And here are some of the reasons why:
1. Entrepreneurs are willing to start. Most people spend time thinking, planning, or finding reasons not to start. Entrepreneurs fight apathy, fear and naysayers to build something that may, or may not, be successful. But you can’t succeed, or fail, if you never begin — it takes bravery to start on the path to entrepreneurship.
2. Entrepreneurs don’t need permission. When it comes to work, most people have an outside authority. A boss, business partners, even a parent or spouse that we are trying to support or make proud. While entrepreneurs both have business and personal relationships, they are less likely to be swayed, discouraged or reined in by outside influence. In a society that seems to run on praise and validation, it’s brave not to need permission.
3. Entrepreneurs know when to hit the brakes (most of the time). Like I said earlier, not all ideas are created equal. Knowing when to slow down, pivot, or even cut your losses takes as much bravery as beginning. We all know a lot of startups fail but the courageous entrepreneurs who are willing to face the reality of research, testing and the market, and respond accordingly, stand out from the crowd.
4. Entrepreneurs have a healthy relationship with fear. We hear a lot about fear these days. And the message seems to have changed from conquering fear to making peace with it. Fear and bravery go hand in hand. I recently heard someone say, “It’s not brave if you aren’t scared.” True. Being an entrepreneur is scary — freeing and exhilarating, as well — but holding your breath is part of the adventure. Entrepreneurs are often scared. Scared of failing, scared of wasting time and money and years, scared of the future – they just don’t let fear drive the bus. It’s along for the ride but appropriately in the back seat where it can shout out warnings but can’t grab the wheel!
5. Entrepreneurs are often outside of their comfort zone. Nobody likes doing things they don’t enjoy or know how to do. But the entrepreneurs I meet can admit they don’t have all the answers. They watch an endless number of how-to videos, read everything, contact everyone in their network, cold-call businesses to figure out a solution to a problem. They push through discomfort to do all sorts of things.
It’s a pretty impressive list. So are you brave enough to get started?
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