Do you have the entrepreneurial stamina to turn that new venture into a successful and thriving organisation?
Unfortunately, when starting anything new, most of us don’t know the answers to these questions. They are too difficult to consider, or considered irrelevant. Why be so challenging at the outset when far more immediate problems require attention?
Resilience is everything
Choosing the entrepreneurial route is the Everest of career pathways. Uncertainty and change are guaranteed. Failures outnumber successes.
But if more people understood their entrepreneurial stamina at the outset and how three fundamental principles impact resilience levels, more people would succeed, or at least find financial sustainability.
Principle 1 – Love your work: Our resilience levels and desire to make something happen are greatest when we believe with conviction and passion. When starting out, ask yourself: Is this something I love to do and might do well? If ‘no’, then stop and re-think. Alternatively, accept the unnecessary time-waste associated with wrong direction. When inevitable challenges arise, don’t be surprised if the fight is too much.
Principle 2 – Assess demand: Is there evidence that what you want to do solves a problem or is in clear demand? If competitors exist, that’s a good sign there’s a market for your service/product. However, you need to assess how to stand out, so sound market research and audience feedback is critical. Don’t think research is unnecessary because your idea is unique; popular fast-track to early oblivion, you’ll find.
Principle 3 – Learning: Are you prepared to learn as you progress and learn from error? Do you have the capacity to change as you learn allowing you to pivot and develop judgement skills?
Let’s assume you have an idea/approach that ticks all boxes. What next?
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Having watched 7 shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I became fascinated with the demanding life of the stand-up comedian (part of me would love the spotlight, but I’m not sure I can cut it).
Professional comedians must love what they do and by definition be good at their job. And the monitoring of demand (bums on seats and audience laughter) means feedback is continuous, and when things are wrong, ruthless.
Edinburgh made me curious and lured me into a world I wanted to understand in much more depth. How do stand-ups get going, create traction and ultimately ‘cut it’? For fast-tracked answers I bought the autobiography by my favourite comic genius, Eddie Izzard.
Devoured in 3 days ‘Believe Me’ is 377 pages of joy. The book is also essential reading for any aspiring entrepreneur because the secrets of success are openly revealed. If you teach the subject, put this book on your reading list.
The overriding message in ‘Believe Me’ is about fulfilling dreams and not giving up. Today, Eddie Izzard is a global superstar, but did you know how long he spent in the wilderness?
“The 80’s were terrible for me,” he says on page 300. “I simply couldn’t get anything going.
“A lot of my early days at gigs involved me staring at completely blank [diary] pages.”
His first 3 years at Edinburgh were typified by a single experience: Silence. His only review in his early Festival days went like this:
“Your show was crap.”
Eddie Izzard failed and failed again but his love for performing drove him on. When you turn the pages you’ll discover how he continually learnt and pivoted at key moments in his early career.
“It was that kind of doggedness. Going for it, going for it, going for it – that made things happen.”
Discovering the ultimate solo comic within took years of ‘mining’. Crucially, he always believed in himself and believed he was digging for gold. But whilst he says he’s glad he didn’t ascend via Cambridge and the ‘Footlights’, he does admit he prioritised speed over quality for too many years. The allure of instant success blinds many wannabe entrepreneurs. Quality always beats speed.
But it must be noted that in his pursuit of success, Eddie Izzard never stopped learning. He learnt new ways to perform and entertain, he learnt from workshops and mentors and he also kept a sharp eye on the industry. About his comic colleagues and ‘competitors’, he says this:
Much more could be written. Izzard’s relationships with family, being a transvestite and running marathons are all relevant. But the words are already on the page. Invest in a future, whether yours or someone in need of inspiration, and buy the book.
Key Learning Points: Start-ups and stand-ups inhabit very similar worlds. Both jobs require huge resilience. Developing entrepreneurial stamina requires an intelligent state of mind underpinned by three key principles. Reading Eddie Izzard’s ‘Believe Me’ provides a fast-track assured way to understand that state of mind and what it takes to fulfil dreams.
PS. For more on the business of comedy, check out this Blog’s ‘Serious Business of Having a Laugh’.