People have given lots of names and visuals, as well as provided many analogies, about life as an entrepreneur. They do this for good reason. It is difficult to be entrepreneur, so we like to set expectations through things potential entrepreneurs can relate to. Even seasoned entrepreneurs often need the visuals to remind them what they are dealing with. We all need to wrap our minds around something that provides us comfort.
So here’s my visual.
Being an entrepreneur is like “sprinting into the fog”.
I’ve been a “formal” entrepreneur my entire working life, and every company I’ve started, investment I’ve made, and company I’ve advised all share these characteristics.
Let me break them down quickly:
Entrepreneurs are driven. They have a deep desire to do something (make money, fix a problem, change a behavior, and so on), and when you have a desire to really do something significant, you MOVE. You don’t wait for others. You don’t wait for the money to come in or the contract to be finalized. You just go. Doing so means that you are moving at a pace that is sometimes uncomfortable for you, and certainly for others. Entrepreneurs sprint.
Even when you have a clear vision, when you are convicted and know where you are headed, the world around you is foggy. It is often foggy because it’s new. There is no data to prove your thesis, expert to consult, or book to read. You are charting new paths and that means things around the edges are hazy. You have to make decisions before the answer is obvious. You have to operate with “some” data and “a little” comfort, and, as my college roommate often says, “ish” (complete-ish, certain-ish, confirmed-ish, etc.). Remember, if it’s clear, others can see it too (so being in the fog means you can blaze new trails). Embrace fog.
So here’s the thing: sprinting into the fog is never about stupid risk and being caviler. It simply means you must embrace operating with incomplete data. It means being 100% ok saying that you were wrong, changing directions, and navigating turbulence. I often say the single thing that can make an entrepreneur successful is being really good at navigating through change. It’s not about being RIGHT; it’s about taking smart risk, learning quickly, and adjusting. Great entrepreneurs are wrong far more than they are right, but they are really good at sprinting into the fog.
Photo credit: Figarogirl