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Entrepreneur Survival Tips

| August 6, 2009 | 21 Comments
hanalei1

As the sun begins to set, the work day does not end. Instead, work continues late into the night with sleep the last thing on one’s mind. This is the life I have chosen. — An Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, if you want to ’survive’ and make it off the ‘island’, then you must succeed. Failure is not an option, yet it is the most common result. In what can be called odd, so many people choose to play this game of ‘entrepreneurship’ even though they are fully aware that odds are against them.

The biggest question that one may ask is “Why play?” For some it is the thrill of watching their dreams take flight while for others it just comes natural. Just how some are born natural athletes, some are just natural entrepreneurs. For those that choose to follow their dreams and ideas, they find themselves stranded on an island with only one way off: success. This is as real as it gets. No one tells you how to play the game, nor how to succeed. You have to trust your instinct and most of all your dream.

The Island

With little resources and new problems at every corner, an entrepreneur is essentially on an island of his own, trying to find a way off of it. An entrepreneur stuck an on island is never there by accident. This is the path they have chosen. This isn’t some reality TV show where producers are making sure that they are safe and secure. Instead, this is as real as it gets. If you lose, you don’t get to try again, you just have to keep moving forward.

Your “Tribe”

Once on the island, an entrepreneur quickly realizes the difficulty in trying to ’survive’ without any help. Without help, the chances of success are lower. Thus the concept of the ‘tribe’ is introduced. The tribe that one forms as an entrepreneur shares a common and important trait: the belief that they will succeed. When one member of the ‘tribe’ begins to waiver in confidence, group morale is affected.

Just like in a company, a tribe has its own hierarchy. From the leader of the group to the support lines, each part of the tribe plays an essential role. The startup ‘tribe’ is unique in that individuals within the group may be asked to take on different roles and assignments. For a tribe to be successful it is imperative that there be some sort of flexibility within the group. A member that is able to take on many different tasks is far more valuable than someone that can only do one.

Create Your Own Map

As an entrepreneur you can read as much you want on how to start a business, but in the end their is no blueprint to success. No two success stories are the same. They may be similar, but no two are identical. As an entrepreneur not only are you an island, but you are also without a map. Instead you are to make your own. There is not set path you can take, you decide where it goes.

The hardest part about not having a ‘map’ are the distractions you come across along the way. Because you make your own decisions and don’t have to follow a set route, opportunities that may seem like the right choice may in fact just be a distraction and slow you down. I believe Jack Ma, CEO and Founder of Alibaba.com said it best:

If there are nine rabbits on the ground and you want to catch one, just focus on one.  Change your tactics if you need to, but don’t change the rabbit you’re focused on.  Just stick with it.

Being able to identify between good opportunities and dead-ends is crucial. Time is money and dead-ends are just a waste of time.

Giving Up

As an entrepreneur when one finds the odds against them and no end in site, giving up shouldn’t be an option. Instead of giving up, one needs to realize that as humans we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes. From those mistakes, we need to learn from them and make the appropriate adjustments the next time around. Giving up means you are accepting defeat. The enemy of an entrepreneur is doubt. Doubt that what they have been working toward is nothing but a failure. If one intends to be successful, being able to cast away doubt must first be done.

The island for entrepreneurs symbolizes two things: isolation and dreams. The isolation refers to the experiences that an entrepreneur faces when they leave the 9-5 jobs. People can offer you help, but as an entrepreneur, you are alone. No one but yourself and team will be able to say “I understand. Also on the island, dreams can become reality. An entrepreneur starts with an idea and works to making it become a reality.

Many have succeeded in making it off the island, but many more are still waiting for ‘big’ break. It may take weeks, months, and even years, but we are all looking for the day we make it off the island.

Joseph Yi is currently working at Future Delivery as the Director of Marketing and does Social Media Consulting with sports teams.

YSN

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Really awesome post. I like the point about making your own map. There are a million books out there trying to help you build a successful business. But none of them can show you the exact steps or the exact path in front of you. You must remember they are simply guidelines but in the end it falls onto you and you have to create your own story and path.

  • http://twitter.com/jfeldstein jfeldstein

    Make your people happy.
    Confidently stick to your guns.
    Know when to cut your losses.

    Good basics and a nice post!

  • http://beyondfreelancing.com Jeffrey Tang

    Three things in your post really jumped out at me:

    1. You don't become an entrepreneur by accident. You have to make a conscious choice.

    2. In order to succeed, you must learn to work with other people and be flexible in your role. I definitely agree with this; flexibility and versatility are crucial for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I would also add that entrepreneurs must learn to trust other people with certain tasks. Learning to delegate was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

    3. The quote from Jack Ma. As an entrepreneur, you never quite know what opportunities will come your way, so when something opens up, you gotta pursue it with all your energy, even if it's not quite what you expected.

    I like the analogy too :) Though I was never a huge Survivor fan.

    Incidentally, I discuss some similar topics in this post: http://beyondfreelancing.com/2009/08/are-you-af

    Yes, that's a little bit of self-promotion … hope you don't mind too much! It's relevant, I promise.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    I like the 1st point you said. It really is a choice. A lot of people talk about accidental entrepreneurs. I think they exist but what happens is they have a hobby or do something that for some reasons catches on with some people. But once they realize whats going on they have to make that decision to turn it into a business and not just treat it like a hobby or whatever it was at 1st.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    If we were looking to follow someone else's lead—we wouldn't be innovators. Sure, there are biographies of other successful people who we can model after, but in the end entrepreneurs are leaders.

    I have certainly been guilty of chasing multiple rabbits in the past… I like the quote a lot.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Jeffery, thanks for becoming such an engaged member of the community–we don't mind a little self promo as long as it's relevant. There are so many people who call themselves “accidental entrepreneurs”, but really it was no accident–they decided they were passionate about something, they decided to make a side business out of it, and they decided they would much rather be doing this with their life than pushing papers for someone else….

    Everything you do is a choice, not an accident!

  • http://beyondfreelancing.com Jeffrey Tang

    Very true. I think it's possible to have a little success by accident, but in order to really get somewhere (in life or in business), you've really gotta commit to it. Getting from the “hobby” mindset to the “business” mindset isn't easy though; it's something I'm still struggling with myself.

  • nyinsbroker

    This is fantastic. Just when you think you're alone, there's a sea of people in the same boat.

    Glad I read what I thought was an insignificant email that contained a blurb for this site!!!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey are you a graduate of Bryant University? I'm trying to figure out where we had an email blurb for this site.

    Let me know if I can help you out in any way matt @under30ceo.com !

  • http://www.clearpathbrokerage.com nyinsbroker

    Class of 2008 Baruch College NYC.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Where did you see an email blurb??

    I'm class of '08 too… Bryant U.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hi Jeffrey what is your business? How can I help?

  • http://www.clearpathbrokerage.com nyinsbroker

    NY Report – look me up on linked in, and I will forward via email. Rodrigo@ClearPathBrokerage.com

  • http://www.clearpathbrokerage.com nyinsbroker

    Class of 2008 Baruch College NYC.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Where did you see an email blurb??

    I'm class of '08 too… Bryant U.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hi Jeffrey what is your business? How can I help?

  • http://www.clearpathbrokerage.com nyinsbroker

    NY Report – look me up on linked in, and I will forward via email. Rodrigo@ClearPathBrokerage.com

  • http://www.clearpathbrokerage.com nyinsbroker

    Class of 2008 Baruch College NYC.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Where did you see an email blurb??

    I'm class of '08 too… Bryant U.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hi Jeffrey what is your business? How can I help?

  • http://www.clearpathbrokerage.com nyinsbroker

    NY Report – look me up on linked in, and I will forward via email. Rodrigo@ClearPathBrokerage.com