2 Unexpectedly negative things people say about entrepreneurship

In the past, we’ve discussed inner soundtracks, and how the negative dialog we repeat to ourselves can be destructive. Throughout the course of reading and responding to your emails over the years, I find that many of you have entrepreneurial attempts or aspirations that are silenced by your own negative inner soundtrack.

I love the spirit of entrepreneurship. I especially love it when I see fellow Filipinos driven to build SOMETHING in the world – whether it’s a large corporation or a small corner carinderia (may paborito ako na malapit sa amin – they have great customer service, and even if they have a cheaper competitor less than 3 meters away, people still flock to them).

Anyway, got distracted. Sorry.

The point is that entrepreneurship – being innovative and building something for yourself and others – can accomplish great things if done right. And I’m not even talking about the money. I’m talking about using entrepreneurship as a way of solving other people’s problems, making their lives better, and transforming yourself in the process. My approach to business is all about legacy – not for the sake of one’s own vanity – but to create lasting change in anything, be it myself, my readers, and maybe even the world. Something passed on. Something that lasts.

So imagine how much it ANNOYS me when people tell themselves (and others) destructive, irrational, and morale-lowering “soundtracks” about business. Here are my top 2 annoyances:

1) “Follow your passion.”

Otherwise known as “Do what you love and the money will follow.” This is meant to be a positive statement, but when taken out of context it can be negative. I’m going to start out by saying there is nothing wrong with doing what you truly enjoy – but to expect this:

What You Love/Enjoy = What You Do For a Living

Well, it’s an equation that leads to dissatisfaction and cynicism.

While it’s best to enjoy the work that you do, to expect it to be The One and Only Passion in your life is to expect too much from a small area of your life. And this is often unrealistic. For example:

a) You could be passionate about something obscure, like creating mosaics based on the paintings of Fernando Amorsolo. That’s nice. You should do that. But you can’t expect to make  full-time living out of it. How many paying customers will you have? Three? Two? One? None?

b) You may feel like you’re drifting in life and you haven’t found your Passion. So you just sit and wait around, not committing to a specific direction because you’re waiting for “The One” to arrive. So you quit job after job, idea after idea, saying to yourself “I’ll know what my Passion is when I see it!” Well that’s just like sitting at home, hoping to eventually meet Mr./Ms. Right. Good luck with that.

c) You might also be the type who’s just curious about EVERYTHING. You feel torn in pieces every time you choose to work on one of your dozens of projects – you feel that by choosing one, you reject the others. How can you possibly work on Your Passion, when you seem to have more hobbies and interests than you can handle?

The key is to not stress out about this passion thing. It’s not The Passion that counts, it’s The System. It’s your ability to:

  • Chose tasks or paths that are challenging, and serve a purpose (solving interesting problems, etc.)
  • Know which ideas you should explore, which ones to throw away, and which ones to file for later
  • Test different ideas, solutions, habits, and tactics.
  • Understand and apply everything you learn
  • Establish enough autonomy in some areas of your life to do all of the above

So instead of wasting time and energy obsessing about Your Passion. Try the things above. You might not be surprised that as a result of these things, passion will follow.

BETTER STATEMENT: “Work on things that matter to yourself and others.”

2) “Work hard and you will be rewarded.”

Again, this is meant to encourage people to work through their difficulties. Diligence is important, that’s true – but there’s a more important question: Are you working on the right things? Are you working on the things that will have the greatest impact?

I see a lot of people who, when they want to create a business, start with the following things:

  • Go to BIR and DTI and SEC and register all the necessary paperwork
  • Creating the perfect business plan
  • Lawyers, accountants, etc.
  • Have business cards printed
  • Distribute flyers
  • Rent a place of business or office
  • Build a website
  • Pay for advertising such as print ads, classifieds, ads in the phonebook

They’ve spent all that time and money and yet they have NOT even asked themselves the question “Teka lang, meron bang bibili ng ibebenta ko?”

And even if they’ve asked it, they have NOT conducted real-life tests if people really are willing and able to pay for their goods/services. Their answers come from magical fantasy places like “kutob ko” or “sabi ng kumare/kumpare ko” or “sabi nila magaling raw ako dito”. While these sources are useful, are you really willing to invest tens and thousands of pesos and weeks of your time on something that might not work out?

Are you aware of the stats they always say? Something like “80 to 90 percent of businesses fail”? If that’s actually true, this is probably the reason why. “Business people” invest so many hours and so much money on unimportant, non-revenue-generating tasks.

If you ask me, starting a business is really just 3 steps:

  1. Find a problem/need people or businesses have
  2. Create a solution
  3. Charge them for that solution

Most people start at #2 – Create a solution, without first asking themselves if there’s a problem that other people/businesses have in the first place.

BETTER STATEMENT: “Work on the essential things first, and you will be rewarded.”


So what do you think about these 2 better statements I proposed? Do you think they’re valid? Do you know other positive statements with unexpectedly negative consequences?

Photo by Flickr user JD Hancock

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