My name is Kim and I am an entrepreneur. As self made success stories are become all the rage across the world, I imagine entrepreneur addiction treatment centers will become quite necessary. Yes, I truly think that it may be an addiction. I live, breathe and dream everything business. I am the CEO of this self built, from the ground up, business wonderland world I live in. Many people experience a business epiphany, an insanely great idea for a product or a service that you just know the world needs. Most people think about it, some will run their ideas past a few friends or family members, a small percentage will act on it, but very few will succeed into a productive business. I am graced to be one of those people who take action, who is driven enough to battle my way through the process of learning and developing. Unfortunately those traits alone do not guarantee success.
My life used include time for fun and enjoyment. I once worked 70 hour weeks to bring home a pay check decent enough that I could afford to indulge in my favorite activities. I used to spend my free time fly fishing, sun bathing, and enjoying anything I could outdoors. My life today has traded in leisure for work and education. I spend my sunny days inside at my desk in my shaded office. My time outdoors consists of errand running, taking care of my family and household responsibilities. I squeeze in just enough time to be a partner, mother and occasionally, a friend. I take one night out every two weeks to spend time with my love, and I do my best to drop work when my kids need me. The pets, 2 dogs and three cats, live for the moment I rest on the couch and they can curl up beside me. I usually have an hour to catch up on news or watch my favorite entrepreneur shows such as The Profit and The Shark Tank (of course). I spend another hour catching up with my love, while the pets struggle to be the center of my attention. When everyone closes their eyes for the night, I boot up my computer, again. I sacrifice rest, meals and even showering on many days. This is the lifestyle I live during my climb to success. Some days, I miss my old paycheck. I have self funded my business for 3 years now, only paying out and never receiving in. The savings and retirement is gone and the credit cards are racked up. Sometimes I miss the days when I only worked 70 hours a week and my work day was over when the bell rang. My average day consists of letting the dogs out, making a coffee and positioning myself at my desk where I will remain until 7 or 8 pm, with the exception of 2 days a week when I run errands and clean for a couple hours. After my evening break, I head back to my desk and work until 3, 4, 5 am. This is the road, and the price of growing something big. I am often isolated with little human contact each day. Usually I am alone 21-22 hours of the day. Every day. When I do converse with others, I can only discuss one topic as it is all I experience. No one really gets me, my struggles or why I have chosen this life. Few ever understand the pressure and the desire. Few can grasp my vision. I am thankful at the least that I am good company to keep and that I like myself enough to not mind spending lots of quality time alone, at least that’s what I tell myself. You see, the reality of entrepreneurship, at least at the beginning, is not an easy one and it is deep with sacrifice and risk. The more sacrifice and risk you bear, the greater the reward, because one does not reach a great success by paying a small fee.
So why on Earth would anyone ever want to be an entrepreneur? Because that’s what our spirit identifies with. We posses character traits, skills and ambition that enables us to reach levels that many would have no interest in. Because we care about the big picture and bettering our world for the people in it. Because we are filled with passion for a particular interest or cause. Most of all, we desire true independence in the world. We determine if we succeed or fail. We determine what our value is. We do not rely on anyone else to hire, review or set our pay rate. We hold our future in our own hands, no ceilings, no limits. A natural born entrepreneur experiences these challenges, sacrifices and risks as a fulfillment of their calling. It’s simply who they are born to be, and although difficult, it is the only route that makes them feel real. They are born looking up at the biggest mountain knowing that the top is where they belong.
How high is your mountain? The beauty of climbing that mountain is as rewarding as any great feat that non-entrepreneurs reach, but on a magnified level. The harder the struggle, the greater the reward and joy of achievement. If you were hiking up a mountain and your goal was to make it 1/3 of the way to the top, and you did it, your sense of achievement would be great. You may be winded, cramped and thirsty, but the achievement is exciting and fills you with pride. But imagine if your goal was to reach the top. Imagine with every step, the exhaustion increases. The fatigue, cramping and thirst is hardly tolerable! At moments, you want to quit, at times you have to sit and rest. Self doubt fills your mind “Can i make it”? “Am I strong enough”? The fear and challenge increases with every step. You pull yourself up on your feet and persevere, you are dedicated, intent and focused on the goal. Imagine the level of victory and self satisfaction that this person achieves when they reach the top, when they achieve a goal that is set at the highest level of performance.
Smelling the roses. I have had many friends advise me to stop and smell the roses on the way. What they do not understand is that if I stopped to smell every flower on the way up, I may not ever make it to the top of my mountain. In today’s technical driven world, it is imperative to move at a rate which is consistent with your competitors or one could find themselves tumbling down that mountain in an instant. So, no that is not an option. Instead, I drive forward to the day when I have reached the top. A day when I can smell the roses and grow them too. A day when I can bask in the beauty of the climb and enjoy the life I have created for myself, my family, and many generations to come. Until then I will continue with an unwavering perseverance and faith. I will recognize my achievements and be proud of them. I will recognize my weaknesses and strengthen them and I will be happy doing so.
My advise to new entrepreneurs. If you you can relate with my experience, if I described you to a t, congratulations for being one of the chosen few. If you are new to entrepreneurship or are considering it, the first step is to do your research. Make sure your idea is a viable one. Determine if there is a need or desire for your product/service. If there isn’t a need, will you be able to create that need in the mind of the consumer? How saturated is the market? Who is your competition? Can you improve something that they are doing? How will you differentiate yourself? How big is your market, where are they, how old are they and what are their buying habits? This is where you need to shed the ego and understand that just because you may think something is cool, doesn’t mean anyone else will, so take your time and do your due diligence. If the answers don’t add up, if the benefit doesn’t outweigh the risk, bury that idea in the yard and clear your mind for the next epiphany. However, if your research concludes that your idea is a winner, it’s time to step up to the task and educate yourself. The human brain is capable of great things. It CAN learn what you need it to. Learn and learn some more. No degree? The internet provides us constant access to any piece of information we require, just look for it. Everything you need is at your fingertips. Some days you will tell yourself “I’m not smart enough”, but you are. Just keep trying. You must have faith, you must be dedicated. You must never quit. Be tough as Stallone and endlessly humble. Don’t accept limits, break through them. Build your strengths, identify your weaknesses and build a team that compliments what you need. And finally if you truly want to succeed, drop the ego. Confidence and ego are two very different things. Confidence is good, ego is bad. Your ego will fool and lie to you. It will ooze into everything you do, every conversation you have and every deal you make. Be humble, kind, thankful, honest, polite and always be good for your word. Lastly, forgive yourself of your digressions, as holding a grudge against yourself will defeat you. We are all human and flawed. Recognize the bad and wake up committed every day to changing it and becoming the best person you can be, while always keeping your eyes focused on your mountaintop.