“Entrepreneurship is a mindset”
That was my answer to the question,” What do you think entrepreneurship really is” ,which was posed to the room by Selwyn Cambridge, Founder of TEN Habitat at the monthly TEN Habitat Mixer on Friday, October 18th, held at their HQ, 1st Floor Carlisle House, Hincks Street, Bridgetown, that evening.
From there, the conversation flowed around the topic for October, The Real Truth about Entrepreneurship and for the first time in a very long time, I felt comfortable, I felt seen and heard, as the group of less than twenty spoke candidly about some of the trials, successes and the overall journey they were going through as they built their businesses.
I admit that I like most entrepreneurs when starting out , had no EARTHLY idea what I are truly signing up for, a fact that was only reinforced by some of the stories that swam and echoed around the cozy room that night.
And yet, despite the obvious frustrations and struggles to find their ‘What Next Step,” none of the entrepreneurs who came to the discussion were prone to not pouting or being reticent, the stench of fear and giving up were nowhere to be found.
This was not a whine fest, rather it was a safe space for those who were in the process of finding themselves, and working to achieve their visions, could speak their truths, encourage each other and build a community.
The egos were checked on the grey streets of the town, prior to entering the building, the pizzas were hot and the beverages flowed. There was no putting on the spot, no bashing and no feelings that you did not belong.
The channels for communication were open and available to all who chose to speak.
Entrepreneurship is not a linear endeavor, there is no quick strategy that will automatically work and make you rich. There are only long hours, being in the zone, trial and error and sometimes straight up failure.
And yet even with tales of “how my business crashed, burnt and was mocked to my face”, none in that room gave any sign of giving up.
Rather I was so proud ( of the strangers yes) that while they spoke of their fears, their issues with grinding and how their lifestyles had changed to accommodate building their dreams, dealing with the copycats ,and sabotages, they were all determined to continue making their visions a reality.
They were learning to deal with their fears, to express themselves, to learn more and be heard by those in the trenches right along with them.
They were willing to add their voices, and realize that entrepreneurship is less about building a strategy and more about nurturing the self.
From the lively discussion, it became clear that one of the cardinal sins every entrepreneur has made in their lifetime was to be a ‘grinder’. This is where they let the business orchestrate their lifestyles and not delegate where possible.
Entrepreneurship brings out the workaholic in you, that’s a fact, especially since in most cases, you’re a solopreneur.
One of the things I learnt and will share with you, who have stumbled upon this article, is that you have to take back control, set and adhere to your boundaries and put your health and happiness first.
The reason you started this journey was NOT to become a slave to the job, it was most likely to provide a better lifestyle to you and your family, it was to see a dream become reality, it was to see how far you can go.
Yet, we end up overworking so much that we don’t spend any time with family and friends. We no longer feel free and taking time to chill, is instead seen as time we should be working out the latest challenge to the business. We forget to eat, shower, actually say words and enjoy life.
Our self worth becomes embroiled in the business’ finances and we isolate ourselves even more than we could have dreamt possible. We place negatively above the good and forget to celebrate any of the wins because it’s not the big goal we set for ourselves.
We take on everything and distrust that others can execute our vision properly, so when our bodies inevitably break down, so too do our businesses.
I was exactly all of those things, until I really started to do mindset work and slowly I realized I did not need to punish myself, I realized that if this journey was not fun for me, did not fill me with joy, there was no way I would be able to relate to my customers.
I realized that I had to take my power back and run my business, not allow it to run me. I did a crazy thing then, and it has paid dividends.
This thing was expecting my problems to fix themselves and I no longer dedicated days and weeks to them, instead I focused on all that was going right and soon, I had more things flowing and going my way than not.
It was fucking terrifying to feel as if I had a noose hanging over me at first, because we are 1) hardwired to be hyper-aware of all threats- which now take the form of debt, no likes on a social media platform, a drop in or straight up no sales of our products and ends in us self castigating to do better.
And 2) to solve the problem as quickly as possible because if you do not, are you even an entrepreneur?
So yeah, it was crazy pants for me to make the decisions to turn my gaze away from the issues and to enjoy what I could, but here’s what honest to God started to happen.
In the middle of me dancing and singing off key one evening, the most brilliant of ideas came to me about how to resolve the issues I was having around the delivery of my products.
Another came when I was doing my early morning walks about the possibility of how to increase cash flow.
Truth is guys, the problems want to be fixed, they want to be heard and they can only be when you’re open to it. If you’re in grinding mode, you’re feeding your stress which wants you to be stressed so no viable possibilities or real solutions there.
However, if you’re feeding your joy, then you’re open to more joy which means all the solutions come to you.
Keep feeding your joy and remember that entrepreneurship is actually NOT about building a business at all, instead it begins and ends with building and nurturing yourself.
For those who were like me and are trying to get their minds ‘right’, trying to shift their mindsets so that they can come through on building that lifestyle you can see and are going towards, allow me to recommend three of my books to you.
I wrote each of these books when I was going through the thick of it and needed guidance. So I did the research, I lived the life, walked the walk and talked the talk, then laid it all bare in these books.
I will be doing a series soon, where I talk more about them and what prompted their existence.
Until then, you’re amazing and more valuable than you can ever imagined.
Ashlee Cox .