The Ideal Entrepreneur — a Happy Sisyphus
Quite recently, I met a good friend for dinner. We decided to meet up at probably Houston’s best ramen place (name undisclosed). We had both been busy at our ends with business meetings, so what could be better than enjoying good food, feeling comfortable, and “detoxing” from the days’ events?
First of all, the ramen was excellent! For my good friend, this was a new place. I am always happy to share some of my great food experiences with friends — creating collective experiences; yeah, we are both cravers of food experiences.
Getting this type of ideal frame, we also had room to talk, discuss and analyze the events of this day. We have been working together in various settings, and over time we have established intuitive protocols with advice and support, supporting the creation of improved business solutions.
It was another magical night in that sense. There was such a good exchange, support, and suggestions on improving.
We are both entrepreneurs, caring about our business and wanting to build beyond a Proof-of-Concept — that is just the starting point. We know that this is such a difficult phase. WHY?
There are a variety of factors to consider. Let’s look at some external aspects first.
Funding: You have to find the right investors to build the venture. It is not just about finding the deal that gives you the money. Be more intelligent than that. What are terms, do they support your mission, can they contribute to your success with some own activities (network, business knowledge, and similar). Remember, you will be “married” for probably a long time, so make it worth it! All the meetings, pitches, and NO’s can grind down your morals and beliefs, but I always try to avoid getting this under my skin. Instead, I try to learn from it: can I pivot, or were there any comments that cover blind spots for my solutions.
There are always some take-aways from the meetings, don’t forget that. Don’t focus on the NO! Money is abundant, so there should be a way to find the right investor(s).
Customer acceptance: So here you go to market. No references (with this actual business). No-name company. Relatively small bank and insurance coverages. Also, you go against the standard practices and established value chains. Why would customers buy from you?
Major hurdles with a significant burden on yourself. The boulder, the big stone that is yours to roll. It never stops. You develop so much grit, persistence, and capabilities. Remember that you are not invincible, and please don’t build alone — being a team is more powerful and capable. That way, you can go far, and also, the competition (with legacy products and services) will come to fear you.
Then let’s look at some internal aspects.
People. Always remember, people, are your most important asset. It comes before any funding, product, media coverage, or anything. Always!
Hands-on. Don’t let anything slip. It is hard if you have to go and check every aspect by yourself. Micro-management is not just totally out, but it will also not take you very far. You learn most from mistakes. Build processes that generate data from your work. Evaluate, improve.
Continuous improvements rapidly are essential for success. Being an innovator, a disruptor, you must have urgency. Time is of the essence.
You can continue to grow that list of external and internal aspects. All the mistakes, hurdles, and non-supportive players you will encounter are just enormous. My friend smiled and said: “hey, this is still what we wake up to and are ready to do — every day. And we enjoy it.”
I guess he expressed what makes an ideal entrepreneur. We know what it takes to build successful companies, but it is more than that; being entrepreneurs, we know our tasks, our burden — we take on to roll the stone toward the peak with pleasure. Rolling the stone is how we learn, and apart from Sisyphus, we will succeed.