The exert below exemplifies very well why a wonderful entrepreneurial friend of ours, Donna Hadjipopov, told my husband Michael that “entrepreneurship is the highest form of personal growth”.
How right is Donna!
1. You’re going to be tested. Hammered, actually. When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, my vision was fixed on the financial rewards of growing a business. I had no way of knowing how many great personal tests I would face along the way. I was too inexperienced to anticipate how market factors, competitive pressures, cash constraints, and managing employees would create an environment of nearly constant pressure. New twists, turns, and surprises surface with exhausting frequency. There’s a wise saying that “…hammering hardens steel and plays havoc on putty.” It’s the opportunity for you to become strengthened and refined under the heat and hammering of business challenges. Sadly, many wilt, falter, or fail under these circumstances. So be prepared to face and conquer real-life tests as an entrepreneur and to be better for it.
2. You’re going to fail. That’s a good thing. Think of failure as the toll paid for future success. Every great success story includes painful chapters of failure and misstep. It’s a fact that through failure, questions are answered and solutions are discovered. Og Mandino said, “Failure is the highway to success, as every discovery we make of what is false leads us to earnestly seek after what is true and points out some error which we shall afterward carefully avoid.” And it’s the experience of failure that breeds the ability to be flexible, humble, and thoughtful—qualities required to create a company that can stand the test of time. Flexibility, humility, and thoughtfulness go a long way in life, too.
3. You’re going to learn patience. It develops as a natural result of the hammering and the failures that you’re sure to experience.Patience is the trait that truly separates inexperienced entrepreneurs from the seasoned and successful. Patience earned through experience is what allows a business operator to get beyond idealistic dreams and deal in the world of sound, realistic expectations. Pray that it develops within you as soon as possible.
4. You’re going to have a major impact on people. It’s inevitable. People—perhaps many people—are going to give a portion of their lives to your cause. This isn’t a small thing. Your actions toward your customers, vendors, and especially your employeeswill have a positive or negative impact on their lives. You will learn that managing people is really about leadership, and leadership is about inspiring people to reach their full potential. In The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey explains that it is absolutely crucial that we “…find our voice and inspire others to find theirs.” And again, from Drucker, “Management is about human beings. Its task is to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” I hope that as you build your company, you will find that it is an ideal platform for doing much more than selling widgets—the opportunity is there to change many lives for good.
5. You’re going to develop character. Sure, you might get rich, retire young, and travel the world, too. But realize that this isn’t really the end game. In time (sooner rather than later, with any luck), you’ll recognize that building a business is much different than what you might have initially envisioned. If you choose to pay the price for success, you’ll find that it’s actually much harder than most accounts of business success would suggest. But through that hardship, great rewards are available. While there is no guarantee of riches, through the pursuit, you will obtainrewards of character. And the development of sound character is perhaps the most important perk of entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, no one really cares how much money you made. They care about who you are.”