Stay focused on the mission. – Naveen Jain
For the last 6
I believe that entrepreneurship is the most important driving force for the progression of humanity. Innovation, creativity, and the future of our world depends on individuals who have the audacity and willingnesses to bring their ideas and dreams to life. You don’t need to look far to see the true effects of entrepreneurship. From the aeroplanes we fly in, to the tech we use, to the clothes we wear, to the art we enjoy, to the music we listen to, to the films we watch – they are all a byproduct of the field of entrepreneurship.
And who is guiding this field? Entrepreneurs. We live in a world where the days of gatekeepers and being given permission to create are coming to an end. Barriers to entry are breaking down and now the individual can create anything they want, which means that the future of humanity depends on more people pushing the boundaries of what’s possible by bringing their ideas and dreams to life.
My Entrepreneurial Journey
Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been fascinated with the idea of being my own boss, running my own business and creating something of value that other people could use. When I graduated from University in 2012 my destiny was clear. I knew I didn’t want to go into a job, so I decided to travel the world instead.
During my travels around the world I came up with the idea to start Podstel – a home for locals and travellers from all over the world to share their skills, stories and experiences with each other.
Since then, I’ve spent the last 6 years or so of my life building
Entrepreneurship is not
1. Accept the Downside
At its essence, entrepreneurship is inherently risky. The upfront capital required for your dream is an obvious cost, but what about the opportunity cost of your time/health/relationships associated with trying an idea that might not work?
I’m an optimist, and I believe that entrepreneurship, even if your idea doesn’t work, is one of the best games you can play in life.
Despite the obvious risks associated with entrepreneurship, it doesn’t need to cripple you. It used to cripple my life, because I let everything get to me. I’d get anxious about every decision I made. It wasn’t until I finally accepted the natural chaotic nature of entrepreneurship that I decided to reframe my perspective and shifted my thinking.
Being agile and making quick decisions is important in entrepreneurship. If you ponder and dwell on what the future might be, you’ll waste unnecessary energy on things outside of your control.
But what if you gave yourself a chance to approach things differently. When presented with a new opportunity, what would happen if you considered the worst-case scenario and accepted the downside before you even begun?
You prepare yourself for the absolute worst case scenario. Of
So when I began Podstel, I asked myself the following question:
The answer was obviously yes, so I proceeded with the uncertainty knowing that I’d be OK mentally, physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually if Podstel came crashing down.
And even today I continue to ask myself that question on a daily basis, using this Stoic way of thinking to inform better decision making. There is no sudden surprises or unnecessary time spent worrying because I’ve already anticipated the unlikely worst-case scenario, and that means I can use my energy and focus to get on with the important work that actually brings Podstel forward.
Learning: Accept the downside. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
6 years ago I was a young, naive entrepreneur. I still am in many ways, but back then it was easy to get distracted by the shiny things that take you away from your strategy and vision. Stuff like perfecting business cards, social media pages, holding long unnecessary meetings because you’re CEO, aimless networking, or spending your day answering emails. But most of this stuff is pretty unproductive, and in my opinion, actually a form of avoidance to make one feel like they are making progress.
It’s very important to distinguish between the shiny stuff and the real work. The real work is attached to your vision, strategy and mission. It’s deep and dirty, and usually not very sexy.
You have got to remain focused at all costs. No arguments about what font size you should use on a flyer, and instead get serious about strategy and vision. Because you can have the shiny stuff in place, but it doesn’t lead to progress, and if you’re not innovating, and improving, one thing’s sure – you’re falling behind.
Learning: Take a long hard look at what the important work and priorities are and work on them.
I would say I am more anxious than the average person. I try to control the future, despite how beautifully chaotic it actually is. My anxiety manifests in over-thinking, and for a lot of the day, I sit in my head with my thought. Couple that with a turbulent curriculum of entrepreneurship and you have a recipe for (a potential) disaster.
Although a lot of the ‘how’ is the same, entrepreneurship can be incredibly lonely because most entrepreneurs are walking different paths to each other in terms of ‘what’ they are doing. Having said that the feelings and emotions all entrepreneurs go through are similar, and there’s a lot of empathy and truth to be shared if only you are willing to open up.
Luckily, there I have Jason and Sam to share the journey with at
Learning: Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be lonely. Reach out to fellow entrepreneurs and share your struggles. We’re all in this together.
There’s no substitute for the curriculum of entrepreneurship and how it helps you learn about yourself and humanity. However, the mindset you hold and the way you frame “failure” is crucial in determining whether you will
Inevitably you’re making 100s of mistakes daily, and if you self-sabotage and beat yourself up about
A great entrepreneur is gritty. They do not take things personally and they do not see things going wrong as them failing. Instead, they see the entrepreneurship curriculum as a big experiment and an opportunity to learn, knowing that there is a lesson to be taken from every experience they have on their journey.
Indeed, it sucks that your business hasn’t been profitable for the last 3 years, but don’t forget about everything you’ve experienced and learned on your journey. It’s very easy to get consumed by tangible metrics and data, but if you look beneath these metrics, there’s an abundance of intangible things that derive as a by-product of entrepreneurship (e.g. the smiles of your customers, the relationships you build, the off-shoot opportunities your journey leads to).
Learning: There’s always something to learn from every experience you have, you may just need to look a little deeper to find it.
I’ve seen this idea of “never stop hustling” thrown about in the entrepreneurial world like it’s some kind of heroic act to be working 20 hours of the day, never sleeping and keeping yourself up all night on energy drinks and all kinds of unhealthy products.
Although there’s an element of truth in working hard, I think this notion of hustle has been glorified serving as a cunning narrative, which could, if listened to, have a drastically negative impact on budding entrepreneurs.
The idea of “never stop hustling” is unsustainable. It’s inherently short-term focused, long hours, no sleep, no time for developing relationships or family, or for anything else in your life. In short, it’s a sure path to burnout. Yeh, you can get away with skipping sleep for a little while, but if you want to be serious about entrepreneurship it’s a game that commands respect. The truth is that entrepreneurship is a long game, and to play that game correctly, you need to be in optimal shape physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
I see many entrepreneurs, to their own detriment, dedicate their life to entrepreneurship, while neglecting other aspects of their life. I don’t think this is healthy, and instead, I believe that a holistic approach is important which comes down to taking time to look after the fundamentals. The composition of the fundamentals vary from person to person, but here
- Sleep – Getting the right amount of sleep. 7 hours a night.
- Exercise – Moving my body and exercising for at least 1 hour a day. If it’s outdoors and in nature, even better.
- Diet & Nutrition – Eating a wholesome diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Mindfulness – Taking time to relax, introspect, manage stress levels and my emotional state. e.g. journalling, visualisation, meditation, walks.
- Loving relationships – Taking time to develop meaningful relationships and be around people who lift me up.
- Meaning – Having something to wake up for that’s bigger than
- Giving – Being there to spread gratitude and help other people thrive through giving and sharing.
Learning: Look after the fundamentals, and your entrepreneurial journey will be much healthier, happier and fulfilling.
Like the past, progress on Planet Earth will continue to be pioneered and pushed by the field of entrepreneurship.
I am aware that entrepreneurship has some negative connotations attached to it, especially when such pursuits lead to powerful companies throwing their weight around and exploiting individuals. There’s certainly some truth here, however, I think the outcome of entrepreneurial pursuits comes down to the intentions and values and belief system of the entrepreneur.
With that said, I think that entrepreneurship, approached with a conscious mindset that cares for humanity and the preservation of the world is beautiful and that we must be grateful that we live in a society that allows us to bring our own ideas and dreams to fruition.
I am grateful for what I have learned on my own entrepreneurial journey. I approach each day with a beginner’s mind and see myself pretty much the same way I did 6 years ago – naive and young in the mind, but always eager to learn. And that’s what I’ll continue to do, sharing what I learn on this magical journey in hope that other people will embark on their own entrepreneurial mission.
After all the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations and the uncertainty experienced as an entrepreneur, I still haven’t found a better game in life that can match entrepreneurship, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So if that burning desire is there and you have an idea in the back of your mind that you’ve been holding off for years, put a plan into action and make it happen, because the world is crying out for more people like you. And if you need any support along the way, be sure to give me a shout – I’m with you all the way on what will certainly be the most turbulent but exciting ride of your life.
All the best,
Monday 11th February 2018
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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