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Not all startups are unicorns and IPOs. The struggle for start-up is real.
You never see this image of success with the right arrow going up to the left that says, “What people think it looks like”, then a wavy arrow to the right that curls up in loops and looks like a mess and says: “What does it really look like”? The more I am experienced, the more real the representation becomes.
I am not here to write about the sweetened BS that is not found in any self help book. I want this to remain real with you, because I wish to establish authentic commercial relations with all my readers. This is the reason why I write about my personal difficulties (How my life as an entrepreneur shaped my time in prison, 3 lessons learned from my bankrupt business with a guy I met on Craigslist and 6 life hacks learned in prison that will maximize your productivity), not just my success.
Related: 5 Ways To Build The Resilience You Need To Succeed
Here is a brief chronology of my personal start-up difficulties:
- In 2020, I was building one of my startups. I had sold my car for extra money on my fundraising route. At the 11th hour, when my savings were on the verge of running out, and all my invoices compounded and the rent due, I received a six-figure investment.
- That same year, after building my businesses in the past two years, just when things started to take off, I was sent to jail for two years and lost everything.
- In 2020, I had $ 200 in my name and a lot of ambition.
- Later that year, while we were working with someone else, our relationship deteriorated and all of my clients and funds disappeared. I had to struggle again to figure out how to continue to persevere in the face of negative circumstances.
Start-up difficulties occur, and it is at these moments that our strength, tenacity, resilience, courage and motivation as entrepreneurs are tested and refined. Here are some tips and examples of difficulties encountered by other entrepreneurs to help you overcome these difficulties:
1. Realize that you are in good company.
Henry Ford went bankrupt five times before founding the famous Ford Motor Company. Bill Gates failed with his first business, Traf-O-Data. Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple. While J.K. Rowling wrote the original Harry potter book, her life was a self-described mess: she was going through a divorce and living on government aid and in a tiny apartment with her daughter before building her $ 15 billion mark.
Reading stories of successful entrepreneurs is encouraging and helpful. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, and when we realize we are in good company, it relieves the pressure of difficult circumstances.
2. Adopt the change.
There are countless examples of entrepreneurs, technologies and businesses disrupting competitors, business models and entire industries. See what Facebook has done to MySpace, Napster to the music industry, Craigslist to local newspapers and Amazon to bookstores (and countless other spaces). The disruption occurs when companies fail to embrace the underlying change.
As entrepreneurs, we must realize that there are countless opportunities in times of change. The reality is that change is usually a threat, something (a situation, a competitor, or a technology) that can damage your business, and if we don’t accept the change, we risk total extinction. An excellent book to read that explains this is the Dilemma of the innovator by Clayton Christensen.
Related: How do you see the obstacles in your life?
3. Be creative.
Did you know that the glue used on Post-it notes was created by accident when scientists tried to create a super adhesive for space exploration? Talk about being creative.
More often than not, the fight will require you to be creative about the way you approach your startup. I learned that it is in these stockings that I find my most creative ideas.
4. Develop your resilience.
Mark Suster, the Los Angeles franc venture capitalist of bothsidesofthetable.com and Upfront Ventures, wrote about his personal story of resilience when his business ran out of money and struggled to figure out its next steps.
Many have said that resilience is the most important trait an entrepreneur can have. Resilience is an acquired characteristic that can be the result of personal or professional experiences, so it is great to realize that when you are tested, you probably develop resilience.
5. Focus on the big vision.
Early in the creation of his first business with his brother, Elon Musk slept on a sofa and showered at the YMCA. During the construction of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk was at its last $ 3 million and had to sign it to pay for Tesla as the company floundered to find its market position. He never doubted his vision and moved on.
A great vision can help you to look beyond obstacles and difficult circumstances. Keeping your focus on the big vision will allow you and your team to overcome your wildest adversity.
The success of a startup requires work. No one said it was easy, but it was worth it. Use your difficulties to help you develop the necessary skills that will ultimately lead to success.
I created a Facebook group for entrepreneurs to share advice, work together and ask questions to become better entrepreneurs. Join me and about 6,000 other entrepreneurs. Request an invitation here.
Related: 5 visionary CEOs and their key characteristics that each leader should master