What Is Killing The Entrepreneur In You

It was lunch time. Dan quietly took out another book on entrepreneurship called “The Lean Startup”. He planned to read while having his lunch at his workdesk. Reading books on entrepreneurship and business happened to be Dan’s favorite hobby, since the day he joined the corporate. These books would flush him with ideas and he would talk about them when meeting up with friends. Even during management meetings, Dan would make use of opportunities to “showcase his entrepreneurship ideas” to the upper management. At times, the top management was so impressed with him that they actually told some project leaders to get business advise from Dan.

In spite of all the talk, sadly, people like Dan belong to a group called the wannapreneur. They wanna-become-entrepreneur but they have yet to find the motivation to execute their “entrepreneur ideas”, that has the potential to catapult into a real business. They remain in this level for a myriad of reasons and you might able to relate to some of them:

1. EGO

Most people like Dan, only the part of bragging interest them, when it comes to entrepreneurship. Yes, they might have some business acumen but, that should be about all.

A former colleague of mine used to brag about himself being in the center between a corporate person and an entrepreneur. This guy, Ko, was a Business Development guy from an insurance company before he joined the healthcare industry. Ko was ambitious. He took an MBA after joining the new company and they duly promoted him to the position of Marketing Director. As part of the prestige that came with the new position, he became one of the twelve lieutenants of the powerful CEO Council that determined the policies and direction of the whole organization.

Ko was a power monger. Due to his influential position, he could poke his nose into any business unit that belonged to the healthcare institution. Although my business unit reported directly to the CEO, the Marketing Director did not spare us the agony. He would come and tell us all the things that we did not do to grow the business unit bigger. A few of these so called directors had actually tried to shove their business insights to us due to their authority.

Where are these “business leaders” nowadays? Sad to say, many are still struggling to find stability within the corporate structure. In spite of their “business acumen” why aren’t they starting new businesses? Ironic, to say the least?

2. FEAR OF FAILURES

Ronnie was flabbergasted. Not another MLM talk, again! He worked in a confectionery factory as a Senior Production Leader. Well, Ronnie used to be quite enthusiastic about the job, and frankly speaking, he was good. The Management promoted him a year ago, despite him joining the company for only three years, fresh out of college. Unfortunately, he became bored with the routine. The daily pound cakes and the annual moon cakes did not excite him anymore. “One day, I’ll have my own business!”

This kind of dissatisfaction is not uncommon among wage earners. As I was a salary man myself once, I could relate to the feeling of deep fear when circumstances threatened our jobs. Discontentment should have propel capable wage earners into real business owners.

I am sure many of you have heard of a Silicon Valley darling called Theranos. The founder did such a good job in fooling the world, that bankers once touted the startup to worth a whopping $ 9 billion in valuation. Elizabeth Holmes, the founder claimed that they discovered the Holy Grail in blood testing. Instead of the normal protocols of taking vials of blood samples, they only needed one vial of sample. The secret “lied” in their state of the art blood test machine, named The Edison.

This is blog section isn’t about the entrepreneurial ideas of Holmes. In contrast, I want to touch on the fear of one of Theranos pioneer scientist called Ian Gibbons. Ian was once a leading authority in the area of blood test. His superb credentials lead Theranos to hire him so as to create a facade of legitimacy to the fake innovation. The company wanted his name on the patent. As a result of his lengthy engagement in the technology, Ian witnessed lots of shady going ons within the company. He knew the technology doesn’t work. Instead of getting out of the situation, Ian lamented in the fear of losing his job in Theranos because of his objection to the fake technology. Foolishly, he chose to commit suicide.

Why would an expert like Ian decided to commit suicide? I don’t think a scientist like him would have a problem getting support to start a clinical blood test laboratory, if he wanted to. Why did an intelligent person let fear blind him from the many escape routes that others could only dream of?

3. BE LAZY

An Indonesian TV network once did a social experiment. They gathered two groups of people from different socio-economy background and changed their position. The TV network paid both groups to just switched places for a duration of time while the former recorded their behavior in reality TV style. In days, interesting things started to manifest.The once wealthy samples started performing tasks to make their poor village homes better, while the poor guys remained idle in their new “rich”.

I started looking forward to start my own business when I did sales. How hard can business be? I foolishly thought that business was all about doing great sales. My enthusiasm peaked when I did my MBA in 2002. Give me a company and I will make it great! Well, God granted me my wish.

After two companies, my view of entrepreneurship changed. There were simply too many things to do if I wanted to sustain a company’s business. I needed to coach my team to create wonders, as in innovation and creativity. Mind you, if you are in business long enough, there are some differences between these two. Gosh!, I was tired when my Operation Manager kept repeating the same mistakes in credit control despite meeting and coaching with her every fortnight. And, I was exhausted, listening to my Sales Manager about his plans to open up a new sales area every week, then blaming his failures to other departments.

I gave up for a while. I decided to just continue working for others after my double stints as GM to two different companies. To be a leader of a group of people with different personalities is to say the least, exhausting. Bear in mind, as your business grow, the work that you and your team put in will increase. Don’t expect your team mates to be as eager as you though. Growth might just mean more income for you, but to your team members, it means more work. You might think about ROI, but they expect ROR (Return of Work).

There aren’t any room for laziness when you need to satisfy the different stakeholders to reach your business goal.

4. LACK OF GRIT

In the history of entrepreneurship, one guy stands out for his raw persistence and tenacity. Colonel Sanders’s story of starting his first Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 80 years old, has become an iconic motivation for every startup owner.

Do you need to have the grit of Colonel Sanders to be a successful entrepreneur? It definitely helps. If you want to test your business stamina, I would advise you to start something simple. A blog might just do the trick. Bear in mind, 90 % of bloggers will give up by the ninth month of working on their blog.

In most cases, the lack of grit is especially obvious in older startup owners. Older executives and managers who are used to high pay packages are susceptible to giving up at the first sign of trouble. They do not fail from cash flow problem like the younger entrepreneurs, but due to giving up too early in their new venture. If given a chance, most of these former high flyers will quickly abandon their business entrepreneurship for a new salaried opportunity.

How about you? What are stopping you from realizing and living your dream as a new business owner?

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