What are the Personal Challenges Faced as an Entrepreneur?
Do you know what it takes to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Is just a great idea enough to be an entrepreneur and found a sustainable company? It could, but as we can see over and over again there is a lot more in it.
Oh, it became so easy these days to start up a company through the entire internet infrastructure. The mass of money in the system and modern education also favor the new age of entrepreneurship. This is just great! I am so happy about all the possibilities for everyone to develop their ideas and projects in this space! This makes the world flourish!
Sometimes I get jealous about all these youngsters with a tech startup getting millions through funding. But then I let it go by telling myself: “This is not for you”!
My story of Entrepreneurship
I was never attached to the popular side of the market, where the hype and the money lies. I went into a very narrow niche to start my journey into entrepreneurship in 2004.
I ran into a 20 years old percussionist with amazing skills in Cuba. Then Cuba was still very closed down and there has not been a lot of information leaving the island. Even less about the still quite discriminated black culture at the time.
I started to develop my ideas of providing an insight into the beauty of the culture. It was my challenge to provide the artists with a voice outside of Cuba by shooting videos and publishing them over the internet. This was the start of a journey that did not end until today.
The young percussionist developed into a great leader over the years and became Nr.1 on his instrument in a culture of highest competition. He never passed any formal education after 9th grade. He started up his own group in Cuba 5 years ago and will play at the Lincoln Center in NYC in June 2019 with an international project.
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We talked the nights through in front of his small house of maybe 7 square meters where he lived with his wife and his son until I helped him with my limited possibilities to get a little more space to be able to better develop his ideas and craft.
While I edited and produced our documentary, he kept developing his artist friends, recording and teaching while living in absolute poverty. The documentary documents the first era of his creation.
At the time I got married and had to change my original ideas to find a way to make a living. I couldn’t provide the support I wanted to provide. It turns out, life made the right joyce so he could develop his own ideas and find his true path.
What I always admired was his denial of selling himself short to just make some dollars. He always told me: “Don’t worry, I am fine. I lived here for a long time and I will until I got the possibility”.
The journey of shooting, editing and producing the documentary was a big challenge for me. I had to learn the entire craft from scratch without any funding in the old economy. In 2010 when I had a first version ready I was in NY several times to set up the premiere in Queens. After paying 1000$ for the reservation of the venue, the owner of the place went into bankruptcy in the turbulence of the financial crisis. I had to postpone the release for several years while I went broke myself and went back into IT to cover my expenses.
There was no possibility to sell the documentary online at the time. Then, a producer still very much depended on a distributor. The only chance would have been to invest several thousand $ into the production of DVDs. This would have been a big challenge concerning distribution in an international environment.
Times fortunately changed and in 2016 I programmed the website to provide the online download and sale of the documentary. At the time I was burned out and it was the last big effort before getting into a deep dive of personal transformation.
When I married I changed the perspective of the company completely, providing an environment for my ex-wife to grow as a dancer. While I never had the incentive to bring artists from Cuba to Europe or bring tourists from Switzerland to Cuba this became the main focus. I took the challenge, even if I knew that it would be hard if not impossible to build a business on this basis. At the same time, I left my classical career aside.
Cross-financing projects through my freelancing burned me out and in 2013 my friend told me to take care of my health while we have been on tour.
There have been several reasons for burning out during that time. Analyzing it now from a perspective of distance it comes down to 3 major topics:
- I had to do things I know I am not good at as I had no one to do them for me
- I had no perspective to turn around the wheel for good
- Fear of the transformation happening to the world and the uncertain outlook
In 2016 I started an education in online marketing and it turned out to go a lot deeper than learning just a craft. Getting a different angle on entrepreneurship and going through a deep mind-shift about what the transformation of the world into a digital age means triggered a deep dive of study. At the time health was at its lowest.
After my divorce by end 2017 all projects I had built over 8 years of marriage became useless. I had to let them go completely standing in front of nothing. I knew they have not been what I wanted. At the same time, I accepted that I had learned a lot in an incredibly challenging environment.
Some month ago I started to recover for real and while reinventing myself once again, I started to restructure everything, asking myself what I really want to do in life.
It is 15 years now that I am in this space of entrepreneurship and I write this down for all those who just started their journey.
My friend and brother in Cuba didn’t follow an easier path in his journey, while he was still living the old world for real until the internet became available in Cuba some month ago and we finally have the possibility to communicate frequently through social media.
We both use the comparison of boxing and entrepreneurship a lot as there are many similarities. I love the Rocky movies as they represent the lifeline of an entrepreneur. It isn’t a coincidence, Garyvee’s book is called “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook”. If a boxer gets too comfortable with being a winner and gets lazy with his training he will get smashed from his throne by a youngster who is ready to do what it takes to win.
In entrepreneurship, there is no real opponent to smash you down. There is no competition to a real entrepreneur as they are all unique and can’t be copied.
As an entrepreneur your opponent is life and if you get comfortable it will punch you in the face until you give up or you reinvent over again to stand up and win.
Entrepreneurship is the art of leadership. I question myself a lot if it can be learned? Shouldn’t it be a fundamental requirement for any manager to experience what it takes to start your own venture?
The education I started in 2016 requires anyone to go through this process. This makes it so valuable in comparison to any lecture at the universities. Fighting with a business perspective and finally crushing it with your own efforts is the goal.
Garyvee points out that he likes to lose because if you are at the top it just gets too easy and this feeling of inner desire gets you lazy. I went down to the ground, lost my most valuable asset “health”, but I am up for the next round.
Lately, I heard many people telling me you can’t do this and you can’t do that. This drives me into a different motivation status.
Do you think my friend and brother would have started his group without education and completely broke if he would have listened to everyone telling him he can’t? Do you think I would have shot and produced a historic full feature documentary if I would have listened to everyone telling me I can’t?
Skills can be trained, motivation not!
#entrepreneurship #leadership #boxing #marketing #transformation