Joshua Conran is the Managing Partner at Deksia.View all articles written by this author
In the world of entrepreneurship, there are two groups: true entrepreneurs who put themselves on the line for their passion and quasi-entrepreneurs who practice playing the role with a safety net.
Quasi-entrepreneurs often possess many of the characteristics of the true entrepreneur, but they don’t deal with the same level of risk. Shifting into true entrepreneurship demands some essential qualities and a willingness to accept inevitable risk.
In this article, Joshua identifies the hallmarks of true entrepreneurship and explains what to do before venturing out on your own.
When someone strings a cord between two trees in a park and walks across it, people might turn their heads. But when Philippe Petit strung a cord between the Twin Towers and walked across, it made history. True entrepreneurship means ditching your safety net and walking across the wire.
Many business owners who claim to be entrepreneurs are really quasi-entrepreneurs, practicing in the park. A real entrepreneur has started something from nothing and takes full responsibility for any success or failure that endeavor may encounter.
If you have a side venture, you have equity in a business you didn’t start, or you don’t have to focus on cash flow for your business, you’re not a true entrepreneur. Starting your own business means putting yourself on the line, but the payoff is living your dream.
Prepare to Be Uncomfortable
If you’re hanging out comfortably in the C-suite, you might possess many of the qualities of a true entrepreneur: the ability to lead people effectively, knowledge of an industry, a well-developed network. But most business leaders don’t deal with the same level of risk as true entrepreneurs. You need three essential qualities to handle that increased risk:
1. Tenacity: If you stay down when you’re kicked to the ground, you should probably keep your day job. Successful entrepreneurs get back on their feet and ask for more every time they fall. Personally carrying the weight of your company is great motivation, but don’t take the risk if you give up easily.
2. Love of the thrill: You need to be at least comfortable with risk, and maybe even excited by it. If it scares you stiff, you won’t be an effective leader, and you won’t be able to keep a clear head when making important decisions. I suggest you keep playing with someone else’s money.
3. Support: If you don’t have the support of your family, entrepreneurship could destroy you. It’s one thing to have tenacity, but you need to consider the person or people along for the ride. Entrepreneurship can be as brutal and unforgiving as running with the bulls, so make sure your family is ready to fight for your dream with you.
Make the Shift to True Entrepreneurship
You may feel mentally ready to quit your job and invest your life’s savings tomorrow, but you need to do a few things before venturing out on your own:
1. Find a mentor. You want someone in your life who can answer any questions you’ll have along the way. Look for a mentor who has achieved your idea of success and can help guide your entrepreneurial aspirations.
2. Adjust your lifestyle. There will undoubtedly be lean times ahead, and you need to live within your means. Evaluate your personal expenses, and trim as much fat as possible. Turn your self-denial into extra motivation to succeed.
3. Put the gears in motion. Take a few months or a year to consult with other entrepreneurs, line up human collateral, and even begin operating to get some cash flow started. This will ease your transition considerably.
It’s possible that you’ll experience complete and utter failure, but that’s sort of a rite of initiation for entrepreneurs. And unlike walking a tightrope a thousand feet up, you won’t fall to your imminent death if you fail. You’ll pull yourself up and try again, like a true entrepreneur.