Birth of an entrepreneur
In a speech at the Sorbonne in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
I was honored to be interviewed by C-VILLE [“The Work Issue: 9 to 5 or 24/7, the way we make our living,” March 13] and give some words on running a business; I hope they spoke to some people. Most of what I’ve learned has been a result of my failures—large and small—and not the successes. It’s easy to skip reflection when everything is going along swimmingly.
However, that’s not what an entrepreneur is. There are hundreds of ingredients that can lead to batch failure, but there is one very potent ingredient to success—perseverance. Most entrepreneurs who have “made it” will tell you about failed previous businesses, bust products, nights on futons, stereotypical ramen meals, and premature gray hairs. Besides the futons (and of course no grays at all), I am right there with them.
Despite all this, I consider myself an incredibly fortunate person. I wake up every morning and absolutely love what I do and who I work with. Mondays are not terrible and I do not use the acronym TGIF. Yes, these jobs exist and no they are not easy. They’re scary and risky and there are many moments of self-doubt and yearning for the cushy jobs that your friends seem to have when you lose that deal to a competitor or stress about cash flow.
There will always be people who surround you—colleagues, employees, investors, bosses—that are happier to dim your light than to pursue their own happiness. Sympathize with those people and move on. Their actions say much more about them than about you. There are many more people that stand behind you and believe in you.
You will fail. You will fail over and over, but when you find it within yourself to get in the arena and to continue putting one foot in front of the other, no one can say that you have not succeeded.