Here’s a look at three essential lessons entrepreneurship will teach you, principles you wish you knew sooner.
Lesson #1: It’s not about you—go ‘big’ for everyone.
When one contemplates entrepreneurship, it is usually a vision of Mark Zuckerberg in a college dormitory, Dell computers being crafted in a residential garage, or another myriad of grandiose creations—made possible by the innovative genius of some of the brightest individuals of our times.
While most startup ideas are just that—“ideas”—that never rise to quite the same caliber as the most renowned inventions of the time (e.g., Facebook, or a Microsoft Windows), there is one overarching theme: A bigger picture.
My point here is not simply that one must be cognizant and acknowledge others’ efforts, but rather that there is a much larger purpose, a vision, existing behind these “ideas” turned marvels. It is one thing to note the actual creation of the concept and another thing entirely to note the end result in mind.
One could view a Dell computer as having been a product with little significance beyond the construct of a physical item made of components. But, the entrepreneurial view moves beyond glaringly obvious; through this, the vision is such of what the creation, product or service represents. In Dell’s case, this was the vision of revolutionizing the personal computing standard, setting a global benchmark unparalleled at inception.
As a whole, the lesson is simple. One is only but a part of the grander vision. If one succumbs to the force of missing out on the “bigger” picture, the end result is stunted, narrowed to a scope with far less potential to make the most of an impact. As an individual it is paramount to see your place in this ultimate mission—realizing that social impacts have an audience much broader, the world-over.
It is not that you are making a cool product. You are making the product that has the potential to change the world. That is what “going big” is about.
Lesson #2: For the right reasons.
This concept is not simply a listing of why one wishes to develop an idea into a far-reaching product or service on a sheet of paper (though, that is not necessarily a bad thing to do). Rather, it is a point that one must wish to be an entrepreneur for a reason greater than personal gain.
In essence, this boils down to believing in the cause. Anyone may opt to venture down the entrepreneurial path; those who truly understand the significance of what they are proposing for society are better able to remain dedicated. It becomes more than running through the motions—it is living by and for them. Without passion, there can be little devotion to following through.
Though society often equates entrepreneurial gurus like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, albeit Steve Jobs, with remarkable wealth, this is not the primary reason one should engage in cultivating an idea.
The “get rich quick” mentality is prevalent in our society today; wealth may often be enabled through successful entrepreneurship pursuits, but ultimately that is a by-product of having believed in, and devoted endless effort towards making the “dream” a bona fide reality.
It boils down simply to this: You never want to stop working. Money is enticing; it often pales in comparison to the motivation gained from thinking about the massive improvement inevitable. Humanity is waiting for you. Do not delay—doing so delays a great gift to humanity (your company).
Lesson #3: Doubters will doubt.
And of course—the doubters. I am not suggesting an all-out affront against entrepreneurs. What I am suggesting is simply that (although maybe somewhat obvious) not everyone will be on board. Some people will simply not “get” it. Some will question the validity of the idea along the way, and some will only desire to point out and enumerate flaws.
Despite the influx of “doubt” that can be cast upon your vision, the main theme is to not let it overshadow your commitment to being an entrepreneur. Sure, not every idea or invention will pan out and be the next “big” thing. But, the commonality faced by all inventions today is that at some point they were ideas—potentially doubted by some along the journey, but benefited from the continued devotion and passion by the entrepreneurs who refused to let the opinions of some quell the desire to do something meaningful and impactful.
Doubt will persist—but so can the vision, the belief in why one wishes to be an entrepreneur. If you are fortunate enough to surround yourself with a team of those who support you and are willing to work endlessly together to make a vision into reality, that goes a long way, too.
Go ahead, follow your vision. Trek the path not yet known; the journey often reveals as much as the final result.
Be on the look-out for doubters. Seek them. They are the best people to glean ideas from, finding the holes in your ideas. It is the process of charging forward with a fuller gait, a quicker stride, that doubters allow. Having your roadmap that takes you to something vast and far-reaching is a part of this process. Always be on the look-out for how to improve.
In this series: Read 3 More Startup Lessons You Wish You Knew Sooner.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Daniel S. Williams is currently an Advanced-Standing senior at Boston College, majoring in Management with a concentration in Finance in the Carroll School of Management. He also is actively involved in serial entrepreneurial pursuits, including Sandbox SEF and Xperii. Xperii connects subjects to researchers, enabling better scientific research and a stream of income for subjects. Medical breakthroughs are around the corner – Xperii helps accelerate them. Connect with @xperiiapp on Twitter.