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How to Become an Authentic Entrepreneur: Choosing Yourself Over Business

When one thinks of entrepreneurship, the first image that usually comes in the mind is of a tiny office with people staring at laptops and sipping on their cappuccinos, hurriedly and worriedly working with ferocious intensity.

And truth be told, that’s a fair reflection of what goes on in the world.

My first ever job right after graduating was in an IT start-up which pretty much resembled the scenario described above.

But just because something is done in a popular way doesn’t mean YOU have to do it that way too.

I meet many entrepreneurs on a monthly basis and have observed that a majority of them treat entrepreneurship as some big burden that they have quite masochistically agreed to bear.

Long hours of work, pointless meetings, obsession with planning things, coming up with complex sounding business plans, etc. quickly become a daily part of their routine.

And the chief reason behind this I feel is how entrepreneurship is portrayed by media.

Many people who start a venture get sucked into this notion of entrepreneurship being an endless struggle without even giving it a thought.

And this is where I feel they get it wrong. They base their start-up idea on a wrong set of questions like the ones below:

  • Which is the hottest field right now?
  • Which is the most lucrative industry to be in at the moment?
  • What’s the market situation?
  • What’s the most innovative product I can come up with?
  • What are the needs that I can solve to quickly gain a lot of money?
  • How should I go about my business and marketing plan?
  • What is the possibility of scaling my business in the future?

Yes, all that is important, but to me, entrepreneurship should not start with the business idea or all the planning that comes along with it.

It has to start with YOU in mind. You have to be incredibly selfish in determining WHY you are doing whatever you are planning to do.

Hence, a better set of questions would be:

  • What makes me really happy?
  • What are the activities I would enjoy doing?
  • What gets me turned on?
  • What type of business would be in line with the things I value?
  • What type of a lifestyle would I like to lead?
  • Do I necessarily have to leave my comfortable job or is it something that I can do along with it?
  • Does my idea take me closer to the type of person I want to become?

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to the second set of questions because it doesn’t seem logical and entrepreneur-like.

In fact, I believe you should not even think in terms of a business. Frankly speaking, I dislike that word. It just signifies boredom to me. I prefer to focus on lifestyle, not business.

Choosing what you want to do should not be based on a product or service. Instead, it should be based on what you like to do, how you like to live your life and how it aligns with the person you want to become.

If your idea is not in line with these kind of aspects of your life, then it really is not worth pursuing.

It can even happen that your idea may not sound like a typical business. But who cares? It’s your life. If you have to invent something that has never been done before, do it, but don’t stick to some boring idea that you think will bring you millions in the future, just because it looks all formal on a piece of paper.

Here are three principles that can help you decide a path that is more authentic to you, no matter how absurd it sounds to the world:

 

Don’t worry about what other people think

I think a lot of people judge the quality of their plans on how other people perceive it.

An authentic plan will most likely not be understood by your friends, so do not get discouraged if they disapprove of it or even ridicule it.

Only you know what you want. Trust your gut.

You don’t necessarily have to create some sort of ground breaking company.

You can do something all by yourself. Yes, you may not become a Jeff Bezos or a Richard Branson, but then who cares?

Remember you’re doing it for you. If you’re happy with it, you’re doing it right.

I have such a small business myself but I love what I do. I would never want to swap positions with the names I just mentioned or any of the other big players.

Because unless it’s not coming genuinely from within, how will you feel satisfied?

Yes you may get it wrong or you “may leave money on the table” if you don’t scale up, but then again, who cares?

What’s the point of it all if you’ll be miserable throughout the process?

Take advice from people and learn from them whenever you can, but the final decision always has to be yours.

You are the captain of your ship. You do whatever the situation demands and what you feels right.

And you won’t have it any other way.

 

Don’t get attached to entrepreneurship

Be extremely flexible in what you do. It can easily happen that your plan may not work out, especially in the beginning.

Or it may happen that it doesn’t work out at all, even after trying a lot.

If that’s the case and you had left your job (which you should not have if you had serious liabilities), be fine with going back and doing a job.

Just follow the same principle of doing what you love. You can always try another venture and you’ll be better off because you would have learned what doesn’t work.

Similarly, if your authentic plan is working but a part of it involves you working for someone else some of the time, do it. Don’t get hard wired about the idea of entrepreneurship.

In fact, your entreprenurship plan can be something that you can do along side your job. Just because the world views entrepreneurship as something that has to be done without a job doesn’t mean you have to view it like that too.

Do it the way you feel it fits your life.

Being flexible and open keeps your stress levels low.

Life doesn’t always work out like the way we want it to. So you should be open enough to adjust and try once again.

The important thing is that you will not do something you don’t like, whether that’s in your own venture or for someone else.

When you have an open mentality, the fear of failure reduces and you enjoy whatever happens.

Something good is a bonus, but anything that goes wrong is also fine since it’s all a part of your plan.

 

Think hard about your expenses

This is perhaps the biggest problem I see in a lot people who are afraid to start something of their own.

They worry about that steady pay check.

And it’s definitely a valid worry to have, but not for all people.

I see so many people whine about the security aspect of a job, who actually don’t need that much security.

Most of the times, I’ve noticed that their expenses are totally on things that they can and probably should be able to do without.

For instance, if you’re always worried about having the latest gadget out there to impress your friends or to feel nice about yourself, you really don’t have any right to complain about the uncertainty aspect of entrepreneurship.

What you actually need to do is to really have a thorough look at yourself.

It may sound harsh but that’s the reality.

If you feel external things can make you happy before you’ve found happiness in your own being, then you’re playing a losing game.

Your dream business will undoubtedly require some sort of investment into it, not only at the start, but even at later stages.

From where you will be able to manage that if most of your resources are going into inessential things that you think make you happy?

I’m not asking you to deprive yourself of any joys of life. But just that you should dig deeper into your values and try and spend your money only on things that genuinely make you happy.

It’ll not only free you time and energy and make your life simpler, but also provide you with an opportunity to use your money as an investment for the kind of life you want to live.

 

The bottom line is to stop looking at entrepreneurship as some kind of a boring business thing and rather treat it as an extension of yourself and an opportunity to hopefully be able to live a life that is as close as how you really want to.

10 replies
  1. Umang Sagar
    Umang Sagar says:

    Nice post kush…i remember u had said about ur interest on this field..infact
    a lot of what u said will benefit and should be practiced by non entrepreneurs too. Looking forward to many more articles from you.

    Reply
    • Kush Sharma
      Kush Sharma says:

      Thanks for the encouraging comment Umang. Very true. We should all strive for work that brings us joy and is in line with our values, whether we are entrepreneurs or not. Yes, I’ll be rolling out more content in the future.

      Reply
  2. Mayank
    Mayank says:

    Kush,

    Knowing you from a very brief interaction I had with you, this came as a very passionately article writen right from your heart.

    I am sure this will create a sense on contemplation for people who either have already taken a plunge or planning to take one.

    Well written… and looking for many more like these in future.

    Reply

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