10 years ago I started my own business. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do, it was something mainly related to the online thingie that was starting to rise at that time. Nothing clear in terms of business plans, financing, strategy or management but with a tremendous drive to succeed. I guess the main reason behind starting my own business was my unconscious drive to publicly show that I was good at something. For those of you into astrology this might also be related to my North Node in the 2nd house in Aquarius, but let’s not get too technical… Some of my initial motivations had faded during years, some had grown stronger and during this 10 years slice of my life some new motivations appeared. The official ending of my first business was several months ago, when I succesfuly sold it to one of the most important players in the Romanian online publishing. Quite a success, wherever you may look at it from.
That was the end of the business though, not of my entrepreneurship. Ater selling, I turned all of my energies towards this blog which I am building almost from scratch, but with different motivations and metrics. In this post I’ll share some of my thoughts regarding entrepreneurship, business and personal development.
The Definition Of An Entrepreneur
99% of the definitions of a business will have something to do with generating profit. Or with generating steady income sources. Or with creating a more indulgent lifestyle. The entrepreneur is then defined as the guy who’s going to do all of these. And entrepreneurship would subsequently be the action of starting a business. This type of business. Every decent dictionary will tell you that doing business will ultimately have something to do with profit, somehow. Put in some money and at the other end of the business take out some more.
Every guy who has the idea, the resources and the energy to create such a process stream will then be an entrepreneur. I have nothing against this definition, except the fact that it doesn’t really deal with the failure part of this activity. As an entrepreneur you can succeed, but you can also fail. There is nothing wrong with failure. This doesn’t make you less of an entrepreneur. Not to speak about the fact that it doesn’t make you less of a respectable person, one thing that is most of the times forgotten in the modern society.
An entrepreneur is a person who is pushing his own limits toward a new level of personal evolution. Being an entrepreneur is about committing to your creative drive and starting to make reality obey your wish. Being an entrepreneur is all about courage and trust, hope and discipline, inspiration and endurance. It really doesn’t have to do with a successful business, although most of the times the successful entrepreneur will end up with a successful business, too. But one can also fail in terms of business, but still succeed as an entrepreneur.
The most important reward of being an entrepreneur is the tremendous amount of learning you’ll encounter during this process. Each entrepreneur can have his own set of motivations for starting a business, going from making money up to making a better world, but in the end the real success is the fact that he’s actually following his dream. The reward is the new level of consciousness and evolution he will attend after the creative process will be initiated. I’ve been a successful entrepreneur, from wherever you may look at it, but it’s not the financial reward after my exit that is making me happy, but what I’ve learned during this 10 tears.
Risk Management And Risk Necessity
The first and most important thing I learned during my 10 years of entrepreneurship was risk management. As an entrepreneur you will have to take risks. There is no question about it, you will have to push yourself, to stretch your limits, to go beyond your current surroundings and that is always a risky activity. Because it takes you out of the comfort zone and pushes you into areas where you’ve never been before. Because it forces you to better analyze your odds, to make better choices and to accept the results of your choices.
I’ve never put my bet only on one business direction, trying to play quite a safe game, but I’ve been pretty close to do some gambling, several times. I took some serious risks as an entrepreneur. Some projects succeeded, some didn’t. But the ability of risking my time, my position, my money and my resources for any interesting project that I wanted to start, made me a lot more confident in myself. In fact, this ability strengthened over time and gave me something equivalent to intuition. Because I was in so many places, I was able to understand if some project will have a certain degree of success without even starting it.
Risking soon proved to be a necessity. Every period of risk silence was a period of stagnation, if not involution. I learned how to achieve some moderate success in some areas, but I also learned that if I didn’t risk to grow bigger, the value of my success would go cheaper. I might have a higher risking capacity than most of the people, thing that gave me some hard times in my life, when it manifested in form of money gambling, but you can understand the value of accepting risks in your life even on a safer lane. Risk management is all about accepting that you can lose something in the process of winning something bigger. And act on it.
Any entrepreneur will soon understand that he cannot succeed on his own. You need followers. You can create as much value as you can, but you need a way to transport it to the client. Regardless if your business is a blog and the clients are your readers, or if your business is a store and the clients are the buyers. You just can’t do everything by yourself. You need a way to broadcast your value.
In my case this had something to do with the way I was interacting with other people. I was always inclined to do everything by myself. Partly because the lack of trust in other people’s skills, partly because I just enjoyed to manage multiple skills [link to blog post]. But it was a very long period, several years, in which I was playing in a one man show. Things started to change for better only when I had to delegate parts of the business and hired specialized people.
Broadcasting your value has a lot to do with your level of trust in the outside world. You can’t broadcast value if you don’t trust your medium. You can’t broadcast yourself in your personal relationship if you don’t trust the other person. You can’t broadcast your love if you think love is only on your side, or love is only your job. Quite a tough lesson to be learned by being entrepreneur, isn’t it?
Acquiring Technical Skills
Doing business online forced me to learn a plethora of technical skills. I now know PHP, SQL, Linux administration, and some more. I installed and set up each and every server I had during my business. I know Linux since the version 1.0 of the kernel, since RedHat 4.0 and Slackware.
One may argue these skills are volatile because the technology in itself is volatile. What you know today will be obsolete tomorrow. Not quite. Once you know the basics of a Linux system, for instance, you can adapt to any new version in hours, if not minutes.
And the benefit is not at all in those lines in your CV that says: seasoned PHP programmer and experienced Linux administrator. But in your ability to learn more and more. Put yourself into a completely different business environment and you’ll find yoursealf learning stuff faster than everyone in your field. Because you took the risk to learn something new once, that proved beneficial, hence you can do it again and again.
Acquiring Management Skills
An entrepreneur will have to manage resources. He will have to manage his time, his people, his projects. Ultimately he’ll have to learn all the management skills he needs, if he wants his idea to become true. As for the technical skills, the management skill will remain in his bag and make for a quite impressive skill in other areas.
I remember that the most difficult part in my entrepreneurship was during the first 3 years. During that time I learned almost everything, from technical to management. I wanted to quit a thousand times during my first three years, but somehow I stayed in the game. And I did this by learning how to manage my resources.
Today I find things like time management or project management trivial. I do them almost by instinct. But it’s enough to imagine what my life would be without those management skills- itÂ would unleash quite a chaos around me.
Ideas are good but making them happen is the real deal. And you cannot make them happen by just projecting the desired results in your mind. It will certainly help, but the law of attraction must be doubled my action [link to law of attraction and action]. You have to do stuff in order to get stuff.
And that requires discipline. You have to go to your office first in the morning and get out of the office last in the evening. You have to take upfront every tiny little problem and solve it, otherwise it will become a giant problem in days.
Having a little bit of discipline in your life is a good thing. If only to enjoy the benefits of breaking it from time to time, if you know what I mean…
The Value Of Money
As an entrepreneur I learned that money is not at all an objective. You simply cannot do a thing for money, because money is a form of energy, and interacting directly with energy will shake the hell out of you.
Money is a resource. Took me years to understand that, but I finally grasped it. Detaching yourself for money is the best thing you can learn as an entrepreneur. Putting yourself between your idea and the final result is the best thing you can do. It’s not the money that is staying between your idea and the final result, it’s yourself. And you are the only one who can assess if you need money for this to become true, or not.
Before being an entrepreneur I always considered money an objective. A job will give me that amount of money, so I have to have the highest ranked job. A lifestyle will require that amount of money so I have to get it befofre having that lifestyle. It’s not like this, and entrepreneurship taught me that I am the center of my world, not money.
The Value Of Friendship
In the beginning of my entrepreneurship days I hired friends. And later on IÂ had to let go of friends. When hiring friends, I soon realized that not always their job was well done. That friendship was mostly a form of personal interest. Those so called friend expected to do less and receive more just because we were friends.
So, I had to let go some of my friends. Some of them understood my reasons, some of them didn’t. With some of them I remained friends, with others, I didn’t.
But what really counted was that powerful lesson: the real friendship is something that will stay with you even on tough conditions. In fact, friendship is real only if it stays with you on tough conditions.
An Entrepreneur For Your Life
Those are just a few lessons I learned by being an entrepreneur in the last 10 years. And the most powerful thing among all is that I can always start a new project for my life. Always start something new and fulfilling. I can always create something real and valuable.
An entrepreneur for my life.