During my brief stint in entrepreneurship, and hanging around Silicon Alley for as long, I’ve realized there are two mindsets that extremely important. They seem to big challenges entrepreneurs face, yet not many seem to talk about them. I’m talking about the ability to tolerate uncertainty and to be self-reliant. Here’s what I mean:
Tolerance for uncertainty
Most people hate the feeling of uncertainty, or not knowing what to do or what’s coming next.
In starting a company, there’s a ton of uncertainty. You don’t know if the path you’re going down will lead to reward. “Will this deal close?” “Will this marketing channel lead to profitable customer acquisition?” You may not know if you have a viable and sustainable business for a year or more. There’s also a million different things you Could be doing at any time.
Most people don’t like to make decisions. People like having a “path.” They prefer stability and certainty in career, income, and in the ability to live a stable and “normal” life. I think lack of tolerance for uncertainty is a big reason why some people choose graduate school (and potentially even undergraduate school). It allows you to delay making serious decisions and puts you in a path dictated by someone else, where you don’t have to make as many decisions.
Dealing with uncertainty has been tough for me too, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Plus I’d hate the alternatives hah so I just try to enjoy the process. I just acknowledge the feeling, accept it, and take the action that’s needed at that time. I’ve learned that developing a strong tolerance for uncertainty can help both my personal and professional life.
In a startup, nothing happens unless you make it happen. You might have an “idea,” but nothing will happen until you build a product or get a customer. You might have a product, but nothing will happen unless you go get customers.
At a job, you’re told what to do. Work comes to you. As an entrepreneur, you must create for yourself. You’re not dependent on others. You must either sell a product or sell a service to build a business.
Being self-reliant means using one’s talents and discipline to take action and create for yourself.
Simply tolerating the uncertainty, making tough decisions, taking action, and accepting risk, seems to be what really separates entrepreneurs from the crowd. As I forge on with my “career” as an entrepreneur, I will keep these two factors in mind.