“It’s a good idea. I sure I could make some money wit dis” I pondered while braiding some multicolored wires together in my parent’s living room one wet Saturday afternoon. If it were dry outside I would have probably been out playing football or cricket but that day I was trapped indoors.
I could have been no older than nine or ten at the time. My older brother who was in secondary school, came home one day and showed me how to make bracelets with wire and immediately I thought of a way to capitalize on my new found skill.
I always had a liking for nice things (mainly Kiss Goodies, Flavourite lollies on the weekend and slug marbles to play “takes” in school). However, I knew that my parents would not have financed my vices so I had to think of a way to finance them myself.
The very next week after working tirelessly on my craft I packed fifteen wire bracelets and a few rings that I made from the scraps into a bag and headed to school, intent on charging $1.00 for single colour bracelets, $1.50 for multicolored bracelets and 50c for rings. My ten year old self was not mentally ready for what came next.
To my complete and utter bewilderment, no one in my class – not even my best friend Jarrel – was willing to part ways with their money in exchange for what I believed was exquisite craftsmanship in my bracelets….No one! I was simply crushed, so I quickly resolved to terminate my bracelet making operations and cut my losses.
This brings me to the first Inner Enemy of an Entrepreneur. I believe if we as creators and innovators can expect these mental squabbles, then half the battle is won. It was an old African proverb that said
“If we know the enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm”
Rejection is the first of what we call mental enemies. For an entrepreneur, it comes like a thief in the night, lurking around corners, ready and waiting to pounce on all unsuspecting victims. Rejection comes usually from people who are close to us; friends, family and neighbours who for one reason or the other refuse to patronize your enterprise or service. This could come in the form of excuses. “No, I can’t afford that now” or “that’s not for me” or “I’m not interested, sorry” or “I don’t think that would sell”. These are some of the ways the ones close to us choose not to support us. A lot of the times, they do not even know that they have rejecting us. We must know that they do not do this to deliberately hurt us. Some people just won’t see the need for our product or service. Some people see it as a way to “save you from yourself”. Bottom line, don’t take it personal. They are not rejecting us but our product or service at this time. The best thing we could do is move on to the next person. Remember each no is bringing you closer and closer to that coveted yes we all desire.
The second inner enemy is deception, which in my experience is even more painful than outright rejection. Michael what do you mean it’s painful? Well if you are anything like me, you would hate, I mean absolutely abhor when people lie to you. To me it’s like building your hopes up to cut it back down with a forty calibre machine gun. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like people lie to you on purpose all the time. Sometimes they have every intention of giving you that contract, or meeting you to close the sale, but things just come up. A couple of years ago I was looking at expanding one of my businesses to another Caribbean island. I had come into contact with a highly influential person in government and when we spoke about my expansion idea she was extremely excited and we joined forces, promising a very lucrative partnership. She promised to connect me with some movers and shakers in her circle so that we could get our enterprise up and running. Needless to say I have not been able to get back in contact with that young lady since. Did she deceive me on purpose? I can’t say for sure, but what I can say is, if I had expected it, I would have been able to bounce back much sooner than I did. It’s OK. This is normal in the life of someone pursuing an entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Can you remember when you formulated that million dollar idea? The zeal and enthusiasm you had? Not a moment passed that you were not doing something about your idea, talking to someone about your idea or thinking about your idea. Then you got tired, or you ran into some difficulties, someone rejected you or even lied to you, and the enthusiasm you once had began to dwindle. You began to lose your passion, your drive, your energy. This is apathy. This is the killer of dreams. I have learnt from my own experience and the experience of others that went before me that one of the ways to combat apathy is to develop and keep close to my WHY statement. If your why, the driving force behind you becoming an entrepreneur is strong enough and deeply rooted apathy can be overcome.
I mentioned earlier that apathy was the killer of dreams… I may have to recant that statement. Attrition, by far, is the most lethal of the mental enemies. Why is this?
After attrition it is very difficult to bounce back , especially if we are not prepared to deal with it. Attrition in a nutshell, is quitting. This can happen in a team or in a solo enterprise.
I have seen large organizations crumble after key team members quit. The fall usually occurs when we take our eyes off continual growth and forward movement to try to convince the quitter to reconsider his or her decision. I heard it being described as beating a dead horse; no matter how much you whip it, it’s not going to budge.
As an individual entrepreneur attrition is just as dangerous. What would have been the case now if Thomas Edison had quit after the first experiment he conducted failed? Imagine it would have been a very dark future. He kept sowing and sowing and sowing and sowing until he found a solution to his problem. As entrepreneurs we must know that some of our seeds will fall on rocky ground that will bring no fruit. Furthermore some of our efforts will fall on ground where the soil is shallow. There will be some growth but at the first sign of a challenge the fruit dies. If however, we persist, relentless in our pursuit, we will eventually sow in soil that is well nourished and well watered and fruit will come forth in its glorious abundance. We must not quit! At the expense of sounding cliche, winners never quit and quitters never win.
So as we continue along the long, winding, treacherous road of entrepreneurship, I implore you, keep your eyes open and prepared for these four inner enemies. If you are able to overcome them, ultimate success is just around the corner.