Entrepreneurship is Freedom. Entrepreneurship is Slavery. What??

Sep 8, 2023

The other day, a young entrepreneur told me he wants to start his business because he wants more freedom. I could not help but pity him but said nothing as I did not want to dim the sparkle in his eyes. We have seen others who have tanked ideas, and you read of many who did not and continued until that breakthrough came. There is a delicate balance, which you only come to understand once you have felt it to your bones.

Starting a business is a thrilling endeavour, but it’s also rife with challenges that can test an entrepreneur’s resolve. Many aspiring business owners find themselves at a crossroads, wondering whether to persevere or to call it quits. The decision to continue or pivot can be a defining moment in an entrepreneur’s journey.

My story is the same, and I can’t even begin to articulate what entrepreneurship experience has been like. The other day, a young entrepreneur told me he wants to start his business because he wants more freedom. I could not help but pity him but said nothing as I did not want to dim the sparkle in his eyes. The sparkle he will need if he will ultimately break out into that freedom he seeks. I do not want to be a wet towel in all this; bear with me.

What is freedom? The dictionary calls it “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants or the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

If I can say what it is like, I will say this: At first, you are excited that the boundlessness of the creation phase is fantastic. It’s a drug of some sort and perhaps why many entrepreneurs call it quits to try something new again. Then comes prototyping and testing. This can be gruelling, especially if your idea is not accepted as you had hoped. Money is tight, so you are not just testing – you are doing books, trying to make a few sales and keeping the rest of the admin in check. Then you go to market, and sales are slow. You have seen others who have tanked ideas, and you read of many who did not and continued until that breakthrough came. There is a delicate balance, which you only come to understand once you have felt it to your bones.

So, I am not discouraging entrepreneurship. Not at all! What I am saying is suit up. Get ready for battle – because in reality that is what is going to be required. To have autonomy or freedom as an innovator or entrepreneur, you must establish a functional prototype, product, client base, structures, systems and processes. Only then is space possible, in my understanding of it.

In many ways, we are enslaved by our entrepreneurial ambitions until that is achieved or, put differently, the battle is won.

So, is the key not to ensure that we are smarter than others before us? Before we plunge in, should we know what we are up against to ensure we are innovative, smarter and realistic? So, here is what I would recommend:

Passion and Purpose – If you’re still deeply passionate about your business idea and believe in its purpose, it’s a strong indicator that you should keep pushing forward. Passion fuels determination and can help you weather tough times.

Market Feedback – Positive feedback and growing demand for your product or service suggest you’re on the right track. Pay attention to market validation as a sign to persist.

Competitive Analysis – If you discover that the market is saturated with similar products or services, or if competitors consistently outperform you, it’s wise to reconsider your strategy. Pivot to find a unique selling proposition.

Customer Feedback – Pay close attention to customer feedback. If it consistently points to issues that can be addressed, consider iterating and staying the course. However, if the input indicates a fundamental misalignment, pivot accordingly.

Long-Term Vision – Revisit your long-term vision and goals regularly. If your concept remains compelling and achievable, it’s a powerful motivator to keep you going through the challenges.

The entrepreneurship journey is rarely a straight line, and knowing when to persist or pivot is a skill that comes with experience and self-awareness. While persistence is often championed in entrepreneurship, it’s essential to recognise when a strategic pivot is a more intelligent move. Ultimately, success may come from knowing when to stay the course and when to adapt your strategy to better align with the ever-changing business landscape.

Trust your instincts, gather feedback, and make informed decisions to maximize your chances of breaking through in entrepreneurship.

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Nicolene
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