“Expect the unexpected I always say and the unexpected never happens”
The Whetherman in The Phantom Tollbooth
As Head Coach at Mirasee, I have watched thousands of entrepreneurs work through our programs.
Some are a lot more successful than others, and because I know you want to be in the Successful Group, I thought I’d take a few moments to tell you what separates those who succeed from those who do not.
Today we use the word “entrepreneur” fairly loosely to mean someone starting in business, but let’s unpack that term a little to help you better understand what you are about as an entrepreneur and how you might find that success you seek.
What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur, Literally
“Entrepreneur” is a word of French origin. Some say it was first used in the 16th century to refer to persons who led military expeditions. They would have been prepared to take risks and faced uncertain outcomes as a result of their efforts. And as part of their planning for surprises that might otherwise topple their victory, these action takers would have included planning with an expectation of the unexpected.
Apparently, two centuries passed before the term “entrepreneur” was applied to business folk including merchants, farmers, craftsmen, and other sole proprietors who all shared the common activity of buying at an uncertain price and selling at an uncertain price—risk taking again.
If you continue to hunt down references to this term you’ll find risk taking at the core of the entrepreneurial journey—plenty of evidence of using scant resources to make more but with much uncertainty around outcomes with only plausible outcomes as a guide.
Risk and uncertainty surround the term entrepreneur as does taking action, being an adventurer.
We encourage our students to embrace the very heart of entrepreneurship in their course building. Course building is full of uncertainty and it is an uncertainty with lots of moving pieces.
There is the uncertainty around self: “What can I give?”
There is the uncertainty around what the target audience are willing and able to invest in: “What does my audience want?”
Then, when those two things are figured out, there is the uncertainty around how to make the offer: “What message will resonate with my audience?”
In course building, there are so many whens and whys and wherefores. Like a ping pong ball, plausible answers are hit back and forth often in quick succession and things begin to look good. And then it’s an idea down when the ball goes into the net. And sometimes once that ball has rolled off the table, you can’t even be bothered to stoop to pick it up and get on with the game by trying another tactic or simply getting better at the first one.
Instead you quit before you either won or lost, thus sealing yourself as a loser for the game you began to win.
Other doubts flood in too.
Students are uncertain that they truly know more than those they want to teach, and if they do know more, then the question moves to, “what exactly is the more I know?”
Students are uncertain that they truly know which bit of the “how much” to teach, and if they know which bits to teach then the question moves to, “how much of it should I teach and what is the order I want to teach this in?”
Students are uncertain that they can find those they want to teach and if they think of a way to find the target group then the question becomes, “how do I overcome my fear and talk about what I am doing?”
Students are uncertain that those they want to teach actually want to invest the time needed to learn this stuff, and if they do want to invest the time in it, then the question becomes, “how much time do my students want to spend learning this and at what times of day?”
Students are uncertain that those they want to teach actually want to invest the money needed to learn this stuff, and if they do want to invest the money then the question becomes, “how much money and how do I decide?”Uncertainty is the risk at the heart of the entrepreneurial journey. Click To Tweet
And so the uncertainties flourish because uncertainty is the risk at the heart of the entrepreneurial journey and if you are just beginning to try this new path then you are an entrepreneur.
Every step of the entrepreneurial journey demands a bold move. It requires embracing things that would normally scare away less courageous souls.
Below are the five things that successful educator-entrepreneurs embrace, even though they’re terrifying.5 things successful educator-entrepreneurs embrace, even though they’re terrifying.Click To Tweet
1. Fear and Doubt
Embrace fear and doubt as expected. This will empower you to boldly take action.
Fear and doubt are just part of your entrepreneurial journey and are best embraced. Yes, you’ll want to accept them and move through them rather than use them as excuses for inaction. I know, that sounds tough but keep reading.
Do you really think everyone else has it figured out? Do you really think everyone else feels confident and certain all the time?
The truth is, entrepreneurs are always stepping out into new territory and that is always somewhat scary. Typically the unfamiliar brings unfamiliar challenges that make us feel insecure. That’s normal and it presents you with an important choice, one you will face a lot on this journey into the unknown as an entrepreneur: “Will I let my fear and doubt stop me or will I lean into my fears and all the unknowns surrounding me in order to take action?”
Action taking is a must for entrepreneurs and it will help you build your entrepreneurial muscles along with your skill set.
Top Tip to Embrace Fear and Doubt:
When you feel too afraid to take the next step, pause, work out a way to be OK with whatever the outcome, and then take action. Just make a move.
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Embrace failure for what it teaches. This will empower you to perceptively learn.Embrace failure for what it teaches. This will empower you to perceptively learn.Click To Tweet
It is just fine to meet with failure on your entrepreneurial journey. Most successful people have failed more often than most unsuccessful people for the very reason that they have pushed harder and more often at the edges of their competency.
You may not have any control over the number of times you succeed but you can increase your chances of that success. To succeed more often, you’ll want to try more often. And you have control over the number of times you try. So it works best if you do choose to try a lot and become inspired rather than deflated with any failures.At Mirasee we encourage our student entrepreneurs to go after failure and here’s why.Click To Tweet
It may seem strange, but at Mirasee we encourage our student entrepreneurs to go after failure and here’s why. Failure demonstrates that you’re reaching out into new territory, into places where you have more to learn. At the end of each day we want you to ask, “What have I tried and failed at today?”
While you’re not in control of how your choices land for others and whether your attempts are “successful” or not, you’re always in control of what you choose to try to do. Keep trying because what we do know is that the more times you try at something the more likely you are to see success. It is just statistics.
Top Tip to Embrace Failure:
When you feel discouraged by failure, remind yourself that there are lessons to be uncovered and that you’ll want to expend your energy noticing the lessons learned so that you can try again. Just go spot the lessons.
3. Flagging the Problem as Your Own
Embrace flagging the problem as your own, which empowers you to be responsible to find a next-step solution.
The entrepreneurial journey is one that provides a place for the growth of your entrepreneurial muscle. So while you may have lots of people around you to support you, you’ll want to own your own problems because that gives you the space to solve them!
Avoid creating a situation in which you become dependent on blaming others or your convenient circumstances for your lack of success. Until you own your challenges you can’t be the one to fix them. Learn how to succeed as an entrepreneur in the long term, not just in the here and now.
Top Tip to Embrace Flagging the Problem as Your Own:
When you are tempted to see yourself as a victim, remember that you’ll need to see yourself as the “victor in training” if you want to empower yourself to have a chance at fixing things. Just grab the challenge.
Embrace fortitude as the cloak you wear. This empowers you to generate the energy you need to keep trying.
Dogged hard work is unavoidable. While conversations around you are all about working smarter not harder, do not underestimate what it does take to get going as an entrepreneur. It’s like pushing a car: once it’s moving it might be easier to keep it moving but to start with it’s just a lot of effort.
Successful people typically work harder than unsuccessful people to reach their goals. So find the extra effort you need for the adventure.
Top Tip to Embrace Fortitude:
When you are tempted to quit because things have got tougher than expected, remember there is more in you that you can find to push on—that is simply put—just push on. Just do it.
5. Fabricating a Future
Embrace fabricating a future that matters. This empowers you to craft a big enough vision to stay motivated to complete the task at hand.
You’ll want a big why for your journey. You want to have a reason bigger than yourself as the motivation for your success.
Dan Pink, in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, talks about three things. Two of those are learning new things and being in control, which are covered in points 2 and 3 above. The third factor Pink mentions is serving a purpose bigger than yourself. You all know of amazing feats of courage and success accomplished because a Mom was rescuing her child.
This is your time to find that purpose for your message going out to the world. What makes it important enough to move you? Be sure to get that big reason why for this adventure. Your fabricated future vision needs to be big enough that you will take all the moves and risks necessary to grasp it and make it real.
Top Tip to Embrace Fabricating a Future:
Make a plaque in which you have drawn those things you are going after, a plaque you can look at every day to sear your purpose into your subconscious daily.
“Freedom lies in being bold.” -Robert FrostHere are the bold moves you need to make to succeed as an education entrepreneur:Click To Tweet
Here are the bold moves you need to make to succeed as an education entrepreneur:
- Welcome fear as the trigger for adrenaline to flow for action taking.
- Welcome failure as the trigger to learn about all the ways that don’t work so you can find the ones that do.
- Welcome owning the messes that come from your action taking as your trigger to find a better way and become a stronger person along the way.
- Welcome the struggles when you feel you don’t have the energy to do another thing and push on because you know that fortitude is what separates the successful from the simply brave.
- Welcome the future vision that makes this matter as your trigger.
When you are tempted to quit on your dreams remember that while you might have to adapt the plans and find a better way, you’ll want to hang on to your dreams.
Successful educator-entrepreneurs behave like successful entrepreneurs and do the things others refuse to do, believing that is just what it takes.
What are you honestly prepared to give and take for your entrepreneurial success? Of the five things mentioned above, which one do you find most frightening? What’s your strategy to embrace it?
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