Entrepreneurship is universal

People are quick to label someone entrepreneurial or even non-entrepreneurial. It’s a loaded word and is flung around all the time by tech bloggers and journos in Silicon Valley and New York. The word is associated with building something from the ground up, following your passion, seed money via credit card debt, venture capital, and making commitments to investors and employees. The thinking goes that if you’ve haven’t done all of the above, well then you just aren’t an entrepreneur. I disagree.

I’ve met successful entrepreneurs along the way who’ve had nothing to do with venture debt, angel funding and even passion.

How about a tour guide in Agra that makes sure the experience includes an “unscheduled” pit stop at a friends/business partner’s Persian carpet business while on route from the Taj Mahal to Agra Fort? (This is Agra’s version of paid placement).

Or a Salvadorian surf guide/taxi driver/B&B owner who rents you the board, drives you to a “secret surf spot” and even paddles out with you just to make sure you are sitting in the right place?

What about a woodworker in South Africa sitting out in the blazing sun on the side of the road selling wooden carvings of the “Big Five”? He’ll also try to up sell you on the warthog from the Lion King and throw in one of those African themed chess sets while discussing whether he’s still willing to accept euros.

Or the artist who leaves the day job and opens a bookstore that’s curated and marketed to a niche audience?

Being entrepreneurial is universal.  It’s about having the courage and grit to grow something (oh and it doesn’t have to be from scratch either), putting your name behind a product or a service, and hopefully making a bit of coin at the same time. Maybe you’re passionate about what you do or maybe you just got to make a living. Either way it’s entrepreneurial.

The warthog and the Big Five

Disillusionment is good

Most people undertake a project with an illusion of how much time and effort it will entail. Sooner or later they become disillusioned. That’s actually good news. Disillusionment means that they are ready to start making decisions grounded in reality.

Being disillusioned doesn’t make you a pessimist…it makes you a realist. There’s a big difference. A realist sees things as they are and then makes a decision. Give me a tenacious realist over a delusional optimist any day.

Don’t confuse illusion with vision. Illusions are fun and sometimes even inspiring but they are also deceptive because they create a false impression of realty…that’s dangerous territory.

Next time someone asks if you are pessimist or a optimist, tell them you are neither…tell them you are a realist.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

Have you earned your seat?

Have you earned your seat at the table or have you been gifted it?

“Earning it” means not giving up when the pressure is on, staying the course when people are telling you to change direction and in most cases building something from scratch without connections, a golden parachute or a “name”.

People who’ve been gifted their seats are hard to predict because you can’t tell how they’ll react when it really matters.

Ask yourself this question when evaluating a business partner or for that matter any partner. It may be enlightening.

Remember the toughest steel is forged in the hottest fire.