If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s something wrong with you. You have a genetic predisposition for risking it all. Your DNA is programmed to follow a blurry vision. You’ll slave away during all hours of the day to bring that vision into focus and subject yourself to all the tortures that precipitate success. It is truly abnormal.
You are a masochist who is mentally prepared to run an ultra-marathon with an invisible finish line. Yet, you are confident in the pursuit of your destination.
While your ultimate goal is to succeed in crossing that line, the path can be a dance with death. On this journey, it’s about survival mode. It’s about performing a daily gut-check to see if you have what it takes to make it despite seemingly insurmountable odds. You learn what it means to become a relentless warrior.
With over a decade of tech entrepreneurship behind me and even more to come, I’ve learned a lot about entrepreneurial survival. I’ve gone into debt with a lot of zeros behind it and magically turned it into profit. I’ve taken pockets full of hard earned cash, put it all at risk again, because, like you, I believed in something.
Entrepreneurial survival takes incredible fortitude. What works for me may not work for you. Take what you want and leave the rest; sometimes you get what you pay for. Here are ten entrepreneurial survival rules to live by:
1. Never complain about how hard things are. Nobody cares how much (or little) you work. The world rewards results.
2. Your body is the slave of your mind. Nurture your body with food and exercise, but know your body will do exactly what your mind tells it to.
3. You will accomplish nothing on your own, and what you do accomplish should be passed along as credit to those who help you get there. Ask for help, often. And, say “thank you” when helped.
4. Your job is to make something out of nothing. If you think you need cash to make it happen, you’re wrong. Creativity is a more valuable currency than cash.
5. You will experience some terribly dark days on the path to success. These moments can come in stretches or at random, so get through them. If you can make it through the night, there’s the bright of day.
6. Just like your body has varying nutritional needs, so does your mind. Feed your brain with new information and experiences to increase your mental stamina and problem solving skills.
7. “Failure is not an option” is a myth. Don’t be stupid. Confront the reality that failure is a possibility. Once you are at peace with the chance of failure it helps you cope with stress by reducing flight or fight response.
8. There are no shortcuts. There is only one right way to do things: the right way. Dig your heels in and be prepared to endure. ‘Overnight success’ can take years in the making.
9. There will be moments when you lose faith. These are temporary. Perceive your situation clearly by writing down why you are doing what you do, and your expected outcome. Your conviction will return.
10. Look up the word “stoicism”. Live it.
I am not here to inspire you, but I do have empathy to your cause. A large part of entrepreneurship is about developing a set of personal coping and survival skills. Remember: smart business people know when to throw in the towel and quit, but true entrepreneurs don’t know what “quit” even means.