Following your gut, your dreams and aspirations to become an entrepreneur requires you to take a big leap of faith, and go down a tough and long road riddled with occasional bumps and tough decisions. One of which could be to leave your corporate job, which may well be highly paid and has been a source of security and comfort for you and your family for a long while. It takes guts to make the switch. And when you do....WOW, it is indeed a liberating feeling. A sense of empowerment takes over and for the first time you feel like you are in charge of your life and your destiny!
For me, it has been over three years since I became my own boss and took ownership of my destiny. I waved goodbye to a 13-year corporate career...
Then, FEAR kicks in. The change of circumstances starts to settle into your psyche. Everyday activities are not the same anymore. No more 9-5 working. No more monthly salary. No more corporate credit card. It feels weird, uncomfortable, but still quite exciting. This is all very natural and happens to most of us who decide to make the switch from employee to entrepreneur.
Once you have passed this phase and get to grips with the new world you live in, and the opportunities it presents, then the real action begins.
For me, it has been over three years since I became my own boss and took ownership of my destiny. I waved goodbye to a 13-year corporate career and as much as I enjoyed what I did for all those years, and even experienced incredible success early on in my career, it was time for me find the courage to make the switch. The past three years (as an entrepreneur) have undoubtedly been the toughest few years of my life, and also the most rewarding. It's been epic, as they say.
I've invested in multiple ventures across three continents, own three businesses, launched a business in one of the fastest growing markets on the planet, spoken at many conferences, been quoted in over 25 newspapers and even won four global awards for my company, GrowthEnabler. I know it sounds crazy! I could have never imagined this happening to me. All this is truly amazing, for sure, but also comes with an equal measure of things that don't go in your favour. It takes sheer grit, sacrifice and a mission, larger than life, to keep you going.
The journey was far from easy though and it is foolish to think one can wade through it alone without any help. When I started out, I had all the drive and hunger to make things happen. What I did not have was proper coaching and guidance; a sound-board.
Without it, I learned some really tough lessons along the way, which I could have avoided.
I would like to share some of my biggest learnings with you in a series of articles so you can make the right decisions in your life and career, and pick the best routes to achieve your dreams and fullest potential. Even today, I rely on these lessons to keep myself energised, inspired and focused.
LESSON 1: DEAR ENTREPRENEUR, TAKE CHARGE!
It is a common belief that success leads to confidence. Successful people transmit and ooze confidence. We perceive them as being courageous and competitive. We imagine them to be decisive and focused. Confidence is a powerful "state of mind" and actually leads to success, not the other way around. Be confident first, and then see the world around you change.
Self-doubt feeds social doubt
Why would anyone believe in you, your words, your ideas, or your abilities if you don't believe in them yourself? Having clarity about your strengths and being able to play to those strengths enables you to be the best. This is called being in your zone.
Have you identified your zone? Self-doubt comes from the lack of self belief. The solution is to motivate yourself and refrain from telling yourself a story that inhibits you from doing great things. "I am ugly", "I am stupid", "I am not capable, "I don't take risks"... these are stories or excuses that you tell yourself, which cause self-doubt. These stories are used as coping mechanisms in instances where you feel under-confident and gradually, they become your reality.
Confidence is a powerful "state of mind" and actually leads to success, not the other way around.
Tackle your mindset. Be clear about your abilities and channelise your efforts towards them. Believe in and practice your strengths every day and know why you are good at them. The world will perceive your confidence and energy and you will be known for your strengths. If you really care about an idea in your mind, then you have the conviction to find ways to pursue that idea.
Confidence opens new doors and opportunities
Think about the people around you who seem to get all the luck. Well, it's more than just luck. These people use their confidence to progress. They get promotions and new projects by stepping out of their comfort zones. Conversely, people who are low in confidence, are insecure or fear change and stay in their comfort zones, limit their growth potential and miss out on new opportunities.
Growth always happens outside your comfort zone. It's only when you push your limits that you realise your intrinsic potential to tackle new challenges and achieve breakthroughs. Self-confidence is a by-product of this journey. It comes from experimenting with your capabilities, playing to your strengths, taking risks and embracing failure as a route to self-development, eliminating self-doubt and conquering fears. Mastering a skill through practice, gaining recognition and praise for your achievements follow. This confidence will give you a special aura and energy that others can sense and experience while in your presence. It's infectious. It helps you stand out and differentiate yourself in a crowd. It is a necessity.
People with low confidence fall into a victim mindset
Confident people don't let problems become barriers, they find ways to move ahead. Their attitude helps them find solutions, not more problems. They hold themselves accountable for what happens to them—good or bad.
"I am ugly", "I am stupid", "I am not capable, "I don't take risks"... these are stories or excuses that you tell yourself, which cause self-doubt.
Confidence is a crucial building block in a successful life and career, and embracing it fully will take you places you never thought possible. No one is stopping you from what you want to accomplish but yourself. It's time to remove any barriers created by self-doubt.
You are in charge of your life!
Always remember, you have been given the right to choose how you live your life. You can decide how and when to make a "switch" in your life. Your current circumstances and choices are your own—you created them and you can change them. Similarly, your future is for you to create. If the world around you is not helping you to be the best you can, then it's probably because you are not taking the risks necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams. Break free and do what you've always dreamed of. You are your biggest growth enabler.
There is only one certainty when you are an entrepreneur: that everything—from now onwards—will remain uncertain. The fix? Make friends with uncertainty—embrace it.
This is part one of a three-part series where I look at some important lessons for executives to keep in mind as they embark on their maiden entrepreneurship journeys.