Becoming an Entrepreneur — Three Essential Ingredients
In my last article, I wrote about our origins, what initially made us what we are and what was the foundation which moved us towards pursuing this entrepreneurship journey once “grown-up”. I also mentioned that not everyone departs from the same point in life and thus meritocracy is an unrealistic idea in most cases. If we want a more fair society, we have to acknowledge the issues and try to do something if we can.
When we decide to become an entrepreneur, we follow a long way. One that doesn’t follow a straightforward path. No, it’s far from that.
You can be certain you will question your decision more often than not.
But remember: questioning is not a synonym of being against something. It’s a necessary exercise in life that makes us develop more critical thinking, and that’s a nice thing to have.
I’d like to mention in this text, three ingredients which play an important role in walking this path, I will share some of my experiences connected to such ingredients to give you a real-life example. (based on the impressive sample of 1 person).
The three essential ingredients:
- learn to get loose in life
- read as much as you can
- practice confidence
What exactly means to get loose
I had to learn to get loose pretty early in my life and this has more pros than cons. Because of my father’s work building hydroelectric dams (well, he was part of a very large team), we used to move from city to city as soon as each dam got up and running. The first time we had to move was so difficult that the entire family was crying together as soon as when we got the news (try to picture that). This was in Foz do Iguaçu, land of the Iguassu Falls in Brazil, a city where we lived for about 8 years, almost my whole childhood. So we were sad and our only alternative was to accept and adapt.
And my friend, believe me when I say that: we do adapt. The next time was not so difficult, and the next one was easier, and so on and so on. Now, when I think about it, it’s clear to me I got used to changing, I’m not afraid of changing anymore, I’m not afraid of the unknown. Or should I say: I am afraid of the unknown, but it’s not something that scares me or stops me anymore.
Now I realize that to be an entrepreneur it’s important to be able to handle changes and the unknown as smooth as possible, without freaking out, because a lot of scary situations will come up out of nothing and you have to handle them. That’s why I always say:
“Get loose yet be mindful about each moment. When things change, you’re loose and off you go have fresh challenges, new friends, new adventures, and still a lot of wonderful memories from your previous experiences”.
The more changes you go through in life, the more you learn, the more your comfort zone expands, the easier things will get for you. You don’t need to seek changes super actively, but don’t be afraid of them, use them to your favour.
Ever since I can remember, I “read”. Well, even before that since I have seen pictures of myself “reading” with my grandfather. And the habit of reading my friend is a hell of a good thing to inherit from your parents and/or grandparents. It’s obvious that at that point I wasn’t actually reading anything, but I did get used to always having books and comics around throughout my whole life and I got quite addicted to storytelling.
When you read you exercise your imagination “muscle”, you are curious about what’s next, you enter that world portrayed in the text you’re reading. It makes you imagine, dream, question, think. Just start reading consistently, and suddenly you’ll realize it’s second nature and almost a basic need in your life.
If you wanna become an entrepreneur, you need your imagination, you have to be creative, one way or another. At the very least you have to find a creative way to pay your bills while you’re building your business. That requires a lot of creativity, believe me.
Besides the imagination thing, you also learn a lot, you think, you consider different ideas, you develop your critical thinking. All of that goes on improving who you are, preparing yourself for what’s next. In my case, at some point, I had so many things in my mind, I had to do something with all that. One of those things was starting a (failed) company in 2000. I’ll tell you more about that later.
“Come on, confidence? Are you going this way?”, you might ask. You’re right to do so, but wait, hold on with me, maybe I’ll come up with something different, you can tell me later.
I don’t wanna come here and say “be confident” just because, but what I realized is that you can be mindful of your life, your little achievements, your experiences through life and then realize that you have reasons to practice confidence.
This is related to the previous two ingredients I mentioned: get loose and read.
Once you become more accustomed to changes, you become more confident that you’ll get through those changes one way or another. On the same note, if you read a lot, you acquire a lot of useful information and knowledge to handle different situations in your life.
What I mean is you have to build your confidence with what you’ve got, not just wishful thinking. It’s not simply telling yourself “I can” in front of the mirror that will give you confidence. Maybe this might play a very small part, but the concrete experiences and the mindfulness about them are what will pave a solid way towards becoming more and more confident.
Again, being confident doesn’t mean, not being afraid. Fear is a good thing, it makes us think things through. Being confident means being mindful of who you are and what you’ve done so far. And that’s something you can exercise and make a habit of it.
But, what about that 1-person experiment?
You’ve got it! Due to the way I was raised when I was very young, I’ve become a dreamer. I’ve been always able to visualize the things I wanted with all the specific details. And so far I was able to get most of them.
I’m not going to talk about the “secret”, I didn’t get them because I could visualize them, but the combination of the three ingredients I mentioned above played a good part. Visualization (remember imagination?) gave me a clear target, and so my attitude was calibrated to hit that target, and that’s what makes the difference.
Changing became easier and easier for me, so when an opportunity to move to Florianopolis (one of my earliest dreams was to move to that paradise), showed up, I said yes. I didn’t have money, I didn’t have a job, I only had a place to stay with some people I met for the first time only when I got there. I was 20 years old and I’d never lived by myself before that (seriously).
I had a lot of challenges, like not having money to buy food (I had good friends, though), but things worked out pretty well. Things were even better than my “visualizations” and this is because I knew I was going to survive yet another change in my life. New city, new friends, new everything, just like when we were moving to another city with my family.
From there, I was able to make some other dreams come true. Besides having a great time in paradise (Floripa), I got a nice job with lots of travel opportunities, I finished my master’s degree, I got offered a job in Germany (which was another bold move, considering all the details), I met a lot of people who helped me grow and develop quite substantially, I moved to Canada, among others.
All of those “dreams” were always a clear target in my mind. I knew many of the details of those dreams and I set my attitude, my actions, my learning, my social life, towards getting where I wanted. As I was achieving those goals, I was having a bit more confidence that I was making the next one happen. But, don’t fool yourself, being confident doesn’t mean I wasn’t super afraid. I was! Every step of the way.
So it’s clear by now that becoming an entrepreneur is not a matter of “I wanna have a company and I know I can”, it’s more than that. It has to do with your childhood, life experiences, what you want, why you want, what makes you smile, the way you see your goals, the way you get prepared for the next day of your life (be it just another day, or a radical change), the knowledge you go after and very importantly, it has a lot to do with your core values.
The path is not straightforward and we think of quitting several times along the way. We think we’re not good enough, more often then we should and this is normal. We have to find a balance in our thoughts and actions to make us go after what we want. Being truly mindful of who we are, knowing our strengths and weaknesses, help a lot.
Be sure there are more "ingredients" to help us get there, like being around people who make you better, for instance. We might talk about them at another time. For now let us know…
What’s your experience in this journey?
This series is not done. So far we talked about the foundation, the essential ingredients that helped me move through life, but it’s not all beautiful and easy. I wanna go over some of the real-life struggles we face when we decide to become an entrepreneur or go after any of our dreams. Real-life will always happen regardless of your wants. You control your actions, but there’s a lot more going on around us. Stay tuned for the next chapter.
Disclaimer: I’m not the holder of the truth. This text represents my current opinion, questions I ask myself, impressions I brought from my own life and my own experiences. Our opinions might diverge and that’s fine if we can always keep a civilized conversation to make our world better.