Reflections on Entrepreneurship
I always wanted to start a company. In 5th grade there was a career fair and my friend Andrew and I ran out of stuff to sell, so we both other people’s stuff and sold it. The others complained to the teacher, the teacher came over and said as I was looking at the floor as if I was about to get in trouble to the other kids who complained, “That’s business.” I looked up and realized that I didn’t have to get in trouble, I could make the rules, and business was the way to go.
Well after a bunch of start and ends I finally am feeling a bit more like I understand business. But I realized that the types of businesses I ran were all reliant on me. I liked business but the limiting factor of the businesses I started were me. So I’ve been reading and reading and figuring out this leadership thing and I realized to do great things you can’t do it all by yourself. To do too many things means you burnout.
The role of an entrepreneur is actually 3 things:
- Create a Vision and Principles
- Bring on the People that live and breathe that Vision and Principles
- Remove obstacles from People so they can Execute towards the Vision and Principles
These are the things that seem to make great companies great. Is that every single one of the seems to have a Why and a How. The people then have What to do to get to those Why and How. I have to admit that I have completely failed at this.
I did not have a compelling Vision nor Principles. In fact I have to say I started for the prestige of being an entrepreneur. But prestige is not sustainable. Prestige doesn’t get you up in the morning. In the end doing stuff for yourself doesn’t make you happy. So what if I had prestige if I was constantly burning out?
An entrepreneur’s life is grind. 90% of entrepreneurship is not beautiful or exciting. It plain sucks. It is all the little details, all the things working together, all the things that you forgot and didn’t do. It is not glamourous work for the most part, the entrepreneur’s journey is loving the Sisyphean task of pushing the same rock up the mountain over and over and over. And doing things for prestige doesn’t get you up in the morning after a while. You wonder why you are doing anything at all.
I believe the antidote for this is that you have to do things for other people. It is easy in this day to see people as abstractions when we see through the lens of a screen. But in the end humans survived because we worked together, we survived because of each other, and it is each other that we need to count on for support. Most religions one of the pillars is community.
What this means is you have to be willing to put others ahead of yourself, it means having Skin in the Game to take care of others, it is a genuine love and concern for humanity. It doesn’t mean being a pushover, you can still have a sportsman like competitive spirit, but it does mean that at the end the journey is to take others with you.
So I’ve been sort of roaming this year, I haven’t been actively entrepreneuring. I’ve been reading and exploring and figuring out what it is that I am and what I am out to do. I started working on an app that I wanted to do one thing then, as I read more and more books on management I created a structure that I believe creates the most optimal solution for an organization taken from the many books on business that I have read. So the app became something else.
While I was working on this I have also been actively writing, and writing, and writing. While doing all of this writing I was able to discern what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are and why I am doing anything I am doing. What I have been working on all my life and what has interested me has always been business and engineering. How do I create and test new ideas quickly? I realized that this is the thing I love most. I love people releasing and testing new businesses and ideas that make the world better. This has always been my journey. My love of coding is the ability to test new ideas rapidly, my love of business is making those ideas available to others.
With the app and writing that I worked on creating the How, and I discovered my Why. So now I am at a point of What. But the What is always lead by the Why and How and I am super excited to start my new journey. When I get up in the morning I have my Why. A Why is important in life, Victor Frankl described it beautifully in Man’s Search for Meaning. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
When I wake up I am excited for the Why. The What may be change and it is less important over time, but to have a Why you wake up to everyday and feel like you need to rush to get started. That Why is important.
My Why? “Deploying Ideas Faster to Advance Humanity”