The ambitious 20-year old. How I realized entrepreneurship really is
Who am I? Why am I doing this? — 4 years ago, I had no idea how to answer that question.
Back then, being 16, I was very ambitious and did a lot of ventures in between. I started engaging start-ups, various businesses, speaking/lecturing at universities, and conducting seminars and workshops all around Metro Manila. Despite all these, I hadn’t arrived at the true essence of what I was doing.
I was in college around this time when I came to realize that most of what they taught in the university was quite contradictory to my experiences and insights. Seeking to end the confusion and to know what to classify myself as, I did a lot of research, followed various channels, sought advice, and ultimately, I fell in love with business and eventually settled with entrepreneurship.
However, despite believing that I was an entrepreneur, it was very stupid of me to call myself as such because back then, I never saw the bigger picture of what entrepreneurship actually is. Sadly, to this day, the same goes for a lot of young people who venture into the same field.
A little history
Entrepreneurship has been growing significantly over the past decades. If you go back to the 80’s, 90’s, and even the early 2000s, calling yourself an entrepreneur would bring the judgement of society on you. This is because people back then adhere to a stricter mindset of settling on getting a decent job, having a working salary, retiring at 65, and so on.
Yes, there isn’t anything wrong with that. However, today’s era is very different. We have advantages that the past decades didn’t have.
The internet and cellphones — these two new mediums opened a several bridges. These led to careers that people didn’t even think such careers could exist. And if you think about it, this is exactly how the story of civilization has progressed since the dawn of time. Everything that we have is a product of curiosity and development of it on a lot of aspects that led us to the creation of various advancements. And with that in mind, the popularity of entrepreneurship has been growing to the point that everybody wants to venture in the field.
Starting a business to “rightfully” call yourself an entrepreneur — that’s where I went wrong too. I kept proclaiming myself as one, without truly understanding what it took and meant to be one. This was a big downfall and a huge factor as to why I became depressed a lot of times.
You see, it’s easy to call yourself an entrepreneur. But the real challenge, lies in the fact that identifying yourself as an entrepreneur entails so much more. I, for one, learned that the hard way. I was stubborn and had the same mindset back then; I didn’t really understand what it meant to be one.
One thing to note is that entrepreneurship is far different from being a businessman, from being employed, or from working. It’s a collaborative field of all those things where you would have to take up a lot of responsibilities, including all accountability on what happens to you and your company. You’ll need to go through all the adversities people and life will throw at you.
Adversities of Young Entrepreneurs
In line with the adversities we ought to overcome, amidst the growing demand of this career, the local society is still far from being in support of the concept.
As a 3rd world country, our mindset is evidently different from those in other 1st world countries, which really frustrates me. In most cases, people bring down other people all because they weren’t able to achieve what they wanted when they were younger.
Whatever they think is wrong, they deem wrong, whatever they think wouldn’t work out, they deem pointless on giving effort , despite not having the judgement or prior experience to tell them why that is.
And the root cause of all that, I believe, is because they were or are still miserable. Misery loves company.
When people don’t want you to succeed, they degrade you and your abilities. Again evident in our own country, this serves as a real hurdle to those who are starting in their careers. What’s worse is that for some of those who have gone past this state, they become prideful; most especially, when success is reached immediately.
At 17, I “tried” to start my own company and began engaging in several start-up businesses. And as things progressed, I grew really prideful. I saw entrepreneurship as a something that I really loved, but the problem was I never really weighed the value of it, and so I just kept engaging. But of course, there are always pros and cons that come with this — the countless failures I faced molded who I am, and on the downside, I ended up having no goal in mind.
Moreover, I didn’t have anything to sustain me. I needed a goal far beyond my business. To prove my point, the only reason why Warren Buffett is pushing through with his billions is because he has a goal in mind — one that may not be particularly for stocks even when it could be relevant to it. The same goes for other billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. It’s all about the ambition that you have in these things.
Back then I had no idea as to what drives me. All I know is that I wanted money, success, and fame. And the consequence of all those was significant burn-out.
Because I wasn’t reaching the expectations I set out for myself, I was passively destroying how I saw everything, and how I viewed work itself — consequent to how I aggressively determined things to happen.
And when it didn’t turn out how I planned, I got so frustrated. This is one of the biggest issues for young entrepreneurs. They haven’t figured out what entrepreneurship is all about. They become too prideful, impatient, and aggressive. And worse of all, they quit.
That one action — quitting — will define whether or not you indeed are an entrepreneur.
Quitting and proceeding to have a break for a weeks, to a few months, even to a few years is fine; but quitting in full belief of your inability to achieve something, that’s a different story.
Inevitably, it can happen for a lot of reasons. You can go broke, grow in debt, or it could be because of personal issues or relationship issues. Whatever it may be, that’s the biggest part about entrepreneurship.
It’s the risk, the adversity, and all the other major setbacks you wouldn’t normally experience in a regular job.
Eagerness to be Molded
Being an entrepreneur means working 24 hours and 7 days a week in a whole year. It takes commitment, accountability, and responsibility, that is significantly higher than that of you having a regular job — and I don’t mean to insult people that are working. If you’re doing something you enjoy, by all means, go ahead. That’s an extremely great way to live life.
However, for those who enter entrepreneurship, you have to be willing to go through all the failures that will eventually refine you. Veering away from wanting a grasp at fame — the right mindset to begin with — is one that is set to take on all the risks and uncertainty this career comes with in all persistence.
Because trust me, I’ve also been through that phase. I had no idea about the meaning of what I was doing. Now, I am able to handle my finances well. Despite being in debt, I managed to generate a substantial amount of income to pay them off because I now know how money works and how to go around it.
In the end, it’s not solely about how much you earn and the visions you have for your company. It’s all about the experience and the willingness to undergo all the hard times, the moments of struggle and draining belief in yourself, and the times where you don’t have the support from the people closest to you.
Although it can be frustrating, you can’t expect everyone to know why you’re taking on this risk and you can’t always have them be in agreement to your every step. But at the end of the day, that’s how you’ll find yourself.