Am I mad?, are you mad? are we all mad?
Maybe not all of us are mad but I do think that there are a growing number of entrepreneurs who could be seen to be mad. Well, that’s the wrong word to choose, I don’t mean mad, I mean we have two personalities, maybe more.
I like many others have to project confidence to the people in the team, to customers and to suppliers alike. But under the quiet calm of the confidence there is often raging terror beneath. I am Henry Jekyll wrestling to keep Edward Hyde inside. I have two personalities both equally vying for attention, both wanting to escape.
The source of this terror can be anything from employee issues such as recruitment, retention, training or just managing the different personalities that exist within the workplace to fundamental business issues such as cashflow, keeping customers happy and finding new customers. If this sounds familiar, then you’re an entrepreneur, like me, but like me are you open with yourself and others to know that you’re not infallible?
Magic and sparkle, the fairy dust
The magic that we sprinkle is the ability to exude confidence whilst our mind is working on how we can find a solution to the problem presented. If you use visualisation, then think of the swan on the Thames gracefully gliding past. Whilst it may look majestic, under the surface its legs will be working hard, damn hard. This is the state of the entrepreneur; our minds are always working, always looking for the new angle, the new way to provide a solution to a problem, the solution that we can exchange for cash, lots of it.
This is the game we play as entrepreneurs, we step outside of our comfort zone and see how we can provide a solution to a problem. One that someone will pay us more money for than it cost us to deliver.
The entrepreneurial spirit.
When I look at other entrepreneurs, in particular those who are at the early stages of their journeys I talk to them about getting to market quickly. Not to take ‘first mover’ advantage but to test their ideas. I coach them to develop a ‘minimal viable product’, something they can deliver to market to test demand and price point before refining and launching in earnest.
This is what drives us, this is the obsession in me and in other entrepreneurs.
We find problems.
We then seek solutions.
Some even find solutions to a problem that we never knew we had. Do you remember carrying your walkman and wearing a watch, or then your Sony Discman, watch and phone? Then iPod, watch and phone. And then someone put them all into a single unit and told us about it. In 2007 Steve Jobs told us about a revolution product that changed everything. Do you know what it was?
This is the addiction, the thrill that we seek and at the same time the source of our exhaustion. This is the point at which we project our strength the most, when we are hiding our inner weaknesses. This is when we sell ‘the best idea since sliced bread’ knowing that ‘everyone will want it’…..or at least this is what we think. There is no safety net if you fall. If you fall then you fail. But the entrepreneur knows how to manage risk and how to adaptively change as the markets demands. We walk along the tightrope with a balance bar, slowly and carefully.
Mental game of chess
This is our obsession, our addiction. It didn’t start when we started our businesses, it started a long time ago, when we realised that life is just a mental game of chess where you carefully position yourself one move at a time to beat your opponent.
And if life is just a mental game, then believe me, life is what you make it, not anyone else, just you.