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“When you do what you love and are passionate about, you don’t need a master plan to know how things are going to turn out,” said Mark Zuckerberg . Throughout my career, I have read and received thousands of tips to achieve the success of my endeavor. Most of them emphasized passion as the engine that keeps everything going, and the ability to adapt the plan as you go. But there are many other tips, and very varied, because undertaking is not easy and sometimes it feels like piloting an airplane blindfolded. That is why I am not going to give advice in this note, but to tell my experience.
I also believe that entrepreneurship is about finding a passion and transforming it into an idea of impact. In my case, the trigger was to create a cloud-based platform to multiply flexible work opportunities for millions of women. But the story of my entrepreneurship is, like so many others, a path of permanent effort, motivation and courage that I travel better when I think about the rule of the three results of my business: #people, #profit and #planet (people, profits and planet).
2020 was a very particular year for global entrepreneurship. Although many businesses were affected by the pandemic, paradoxically there was an increase in activity . It is that uncertain scenarios are a fertile field for risk, the perfect setting to launch into the passion of doing that comes when the world stops. In this ever-changing context, I spoke with March Violante, at Entrepreneur Masters , about the challenges of entrepreneurship.
1. To undertake, you have to overcome fear
The first thing is to understand that what one always dreamed of is far beyond fear. Fears are overcome by dreaming big, thinking that there is nothing you cannot achieve if you are determined to do so. They are overcome when the entrepreneur is convinced that the most important opinion is the one he has of his project. But dealing with them is important. As Philipp Berger says in his book, The Role of Fear for Entrepreneurial Venture Creation , at the base of the entrepreneur’s fears is the fear of failure, which is very common but can be paralyzing if we do not break it down and confront it.
2. The personal brand is essential to push the project
The starting point is to find the cause that makes your heart beat. On top of that, work on the narrative and the online platforms that you are going to use to amplify your message. It also seems important to me to make yourself known, because sharing knowledge helps to position yourself as a benchmark in a specialty: analyze which forums to participate in, which awards to apply, which conversations to attend. But the most important thing is to offer something of value to the audience. The personal brand is built with a true message and through the correct channels.
3. In front of investors, it matters what you think you are worth
Entrepreneurs have to do the work of positioning our personal brand, which is the most valuable thing we have. Then build relationships with mentors or sponsors who can advocate for it. I am convinced that business is a contact sport, that creating relationships and social capital is essential for the success of a business. When presenting his project to investors, the entrepreneur has to present himself as a winner. The key is to understand what your business is and how to articulate your story. You have to show leadership, communicate well that you know what you are doing and that you are going to work very hard until you achieve what you are presenting. Because, at the end of the day, entrepreneurs have a great responsibility: to society first, to create companies that solve important problems, but also to their investors, to make the promises they make come true. In business it is essential to build credibility.
4. Before asking, it is better to read
- Rich dad, poor dad , by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechterme, made a big impact on me because it made me change my gaze. In this book the authors say that there was a time when working as an employee was plan A and entrepreneurship was plan B, which was activated when there was no work. But today things were reversed: millennials believe that working independently is plan A and the dependency relationship, plan B.
- Blitzscaling , from Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, which is like an elementary manual of what to do when you want to quickly scale a project.
- Thrive , by Arianna Huffington, I really liked because it is a book that redefines the metrics of success, which has nothing to do with money. Like her, I believe that success is being able to change people’s lives for the better, not money.
- The Hard Things About Hard Things , by Ben Horowitz, is a tremendous and very honest book about how hard it is to undertake, the work it takes. The author says that to undertake is to overcome many, many times.
5. You have to adapt to survive
The biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make is to quit. Resilience is a decisive element in the success of an enterprise. When the entrepreneur finds his project and is able to defend it, all that follows is the art of sustaining it. And this is going to involve many changes and adaptations along the way, everything that is required to not let it fail. Because the path of entrepreneurship is to deal with economic scenarios that change all the time, with shareholders who pressure and are in turn under pressure, and with cautious clients. An entrepreneur must be, above all, flexible and creative. You must learn to develop ways to present your project and adapt it to the needs of the market.
6. Entrepreneurship in the COVID-19 landscape
“A troubled river, fishermen gain”, goes the saying. I believe that the post-pandemic outlook reveals the opportunity that every crisis contains . The pandemic accelerated a process of digital transformation that had already been taking place for some time. Thanks to the uberization of the economy, to the fact that today accessing is more important than owning, we can build more economical companies. Today, with little money we can start a company on Google Cloud or on Amazon, we can hire talent remotely with flexible models and test, we can use infrastructure in the short term, we don’t need offices either … In short, the current situation is very favorable entrepreneurs, it makes everything easier. In addition, the pandemic opened the markets, because technology allows building exponential, more agile and more inclusive companies. Thanks to the Internet, the market is the world, there are no longer geographical or other barriers
When I left the corporate career to pursue my dream of entrepreneurship, a man with whom I worked and who was very important to me asked me a question, but he asked me not to answer him immediately until after some time had passed: After achieve what you propose, are you going to consider yourself successful? I did not know what to answer him. He helped me: I would like to hear you answer that you consider yourself successful because you are happy. I became an entrepreneur because I was looking for a dream. As Woody Allen said: “99% of success is simply insisting.”